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Saturday, February 24, 2007

alfredo indulgence

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I am seriously the worst new-years-resolutionary ever. So I start out the new year thinking I"ll lose a few. And I did (like 8!)....but now I've stalled and started creeping up again.


This is no good.

So what, dear readers, would the solution to such an issue be? Apparently, drowning my wobbly sorrows in alfredo sauce. Ugh.

Can't knock it though, this stuff rocks.....again, I can't vouch for authenticity or anything like that, but if you are looking for pure, unadulturated richness....I suggest you pick up a weeeeeeeeeee bit of cream and parmigiano-reggiano on the next visit to the store.

It seems that one of the hazards of hosting a dinner party is that I end up with little bits of ingredients leftover - things I wouldn't normally buy, like whipping cream (35% fat). SO, it would obviously be such a shame for this to go to waste.

So why not combine it with parmesan cheese, butter and eggs and make a SUPER nutricious meal. I didn't even make a freaking salad. Bah. Oh, and if you make this, eat it all at once. Cream sauce reheated is pure raunch - oily, separated-y gross crap. If you can't eat it all (and you can...heehee), toss the leftovers, as it would be a crime against food to eat them!

Linguine Alfredo (would have been fettucine, but I didn't have any!)

250 g dry wide pasta (like fettucine or linguine)
3 T butter
1 small shallot, minced
1 T flat leaf parsley, minced
3/4 c. whipping cream (or double cream, for the brits)
1 cup finely grated parmesan (I've said it before and I'll say it again, TOSS THE CRAP IN THE GREEN CAN). Grating cheese is NOT that hard.
1 egg
dash nutmeg

linguine and flat leaf italian parsley
(okay, so I'm not sure why one of the pieces of linguine is giving us the proverbial finger....weird)

1. Start water to cook pasta.
2. Over medium-low heat, melt butter and add shallots. Sauté until shallots are translucent and fragrant (5ish minutes). Add parsley.
3. Add cream and heat over medium-low (or low) heat. At this point, you should be able to start cooking your pasta - you don't want this sauce sitting for too long and you definitely don't want it to boil.
4. When the pasta is almost done, start whisking in the cheese - I toss very small handfuls over the sauce and whisk constantly. I've never had lump issues using this method.
5. Taste the sauce and add salt, pepper and nutmeg (optional) to taste.
6. When the pasta is done, drain (keeping about 1/2 cup of the pasta water) and do not rinse.
7. Throw the pasta back in the hot pot. Add in the egg and stir like mad (the heat of the pasta pretty much cooks the egg....and I'm skeeved by runny eggs....this is fine - trust me!).
8. Add the sauce, using pasta water if necessary, to make sure pasta is nicely covered.
9. Serve, topped with additional grated parmesan and pepper. Eat immediately. This dish really doesn't hold well.....but it's so rich and delicious. You'll love me forever if you eat this baby. Classic, unadulturated, pure indulgence.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

tarte tatin...old-fashioned, french fun

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For those in the know, the word "tatin" evokes images of a caramelized, buttery, apple tart. But for me, even though I'm somewhat 'in the know,' the word tatin has entirely different images.....

Tatin means France to me. When I was in my second year of university, I was toying with the idea of a third-year exchange overseas (I mean, who wouldn't want to live in France for a year???!!!??)....initially, I had thought about going to Nice, where there was an established exchange program, with over 35 Canadian students going.

But then M. Tatin stepped in. And I was no longer going to Nice. M. Tatin was a charismatic, compelling speaker...he milked emotion through his words, and conveyed enthusiasm like no one I've ever spoken to. And M. Tatin was there to promote the town of Tours. And so I went to Tours. M. Tatin was a 'dixhuitièmiste" (French literary specialty involving the enlightenment period in the 1700s) of course I took all courses I could find in this era.

M. Tatin was SUPPOSED to be our exchange advisor, yet magically could almost never be found. M. Tatin, while compelling, was also elusive, frustrating and absolutely the worst administrator I've ever met. But I still look back SO fondly at this man whom I'm certain doesn't remember me, but due to this tarte, whom I can't ever forget.

And I thank him. Tours was way better than Nice would have been...though Nice is still nice. ;)

And back to that tarte.....

I have never made this before. It was a bit of an adventure....but one that I'll happily indulge in again and again....and it was also a fabulous way to break in my brand new cast iron skillet. WoohoO! I based this on Mark Bittman's recipe (I love that man) with a few north-americanised the addition of a little sacriligious cinnamon and vanilla bean....not authentic, but I like it.

7 large tart apples (I used 3 granny smiths and 4 royal galas)
1-2 T lemon juice
8 T butter (1 stick), cut into pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped clean

Tart Crust
1.5 cups flour (plus more as needed)
1/2 t salt
2 T sugar
10 T butter (cut into 10 pieces)
2 egg yolks
3 T ice water, plus 1 T if needed

1. Make tart crust - combine flour, salt and sugar in the container of a food processor. Pulse once or twice. Add the butter and turn on the machine. Process until the butter and flour are blended and the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds. Add the egg yolks and process another few seconds.

butter flour egg crumble

2. Place the mixture in a bowl and sprinkle 3 T of water over it. Use a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula to gradually gather the mixture into a ball; if the mixture is dry, add another T of ice water. When you can make the mixture into a ball with your hands, do so. Wrap the plastic, flatten into a small disk and chill the dough for 30 minutes. Ostensibly, this will ease rolling but it's still a HUGE pain.

round dough disk

4. Unwrap the dough and place it on the work surface. Sprinkle the top with flour. Roll with light pressure, from the centre out....if it seems extraordinarily sticky, add a little flour, but if it becomes sticky DURING rolling, just chill it a little bit. I actually tossed mine out in the snow (I had it on parchment paper) so I could peel the little bugger off.

(I let the dough chill was I was dealing with the apples, and then rolled it out while the apples were bubbling away!)

FOr the apple part of the whole deal....

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.

2. Peel core, and quarter the apples; toss with the lemon juice.

3. Melt the butter in a large cast iron skillet, and stir in the sugar, vanilla bean and cinnamon. Oooooooo....yummy golden goodness.
Mmmmmmm....butter and sugary goodness

4. Press the apple slices into the sugar, arranging them in concentric circles and making certain to pack them as tightly as you can (they'll shrink).
raw naked apple slices

5. Place the pan over medium-high heat. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the butter-sugar mixture has turned a very deep, dark brown. While it is cooking, roll out the pastry. When the apples are ready, remove the pan from the heat. Lay the pastry on top of the apples, bringing the dough to the edges of the pan to seal it. Prick the dough with a fork and bake about 20 minutes or until the pastry is a luscious golden brown.

6. Remove the tart from the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Shake the hot pan to loosen any apples that might be stuck. Invert the apple tarte onto a large serving dish, taking care not to burn yourself (the juices will go EVERYWHERE). Trust me. I got hubs to do this part....cast iron pans are freaking heavy. And not one of my apples stuck! :)

tarte tatin

I served this with a spiced whipped cream - 3/4 c whipping cream, 2 T sugar, 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/4 t cardamom. Make sure the cream is well chilled and whip away. :)

tarte tatin with spiced whipped cream

This should be served warm and pretty much right out of the oven....I made it earlier and just reheated so I could keep my sanity....

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for camping cooking adventures!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

a labour of....stuffing?

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There's something about the act of stuffing something that elevates the humble chicken breast, the rustic squash....or anything, really....

When I'm trying to figure out what to serve to guests, I always want to make sure that I'm not stuck slaving over a stove for an hour while everybody else has a great time.

So I found a great solution - send hubs out into the deep freeze to barbecue! I wanted an entrée that was out of the ordinary, but kinda homey feeling. I came up with roasted acorn squash, stuffed with bulgur risotto (with asparagus and peas) alongside prosciutto-rosemary stuffed grilled chicken and topped (or'll understand when you see the pic of the final product) with a cider vinegar reduction sauce.

I could lie and tell you this didn't take quite a long time to put together...but I won't. This isn't really a dish for a weeknight, but I think the squash would make a credible veggie entrée if you used a bigger squash. And the chicken was delicious.....I brined it first, which is crucial to getting a moist, yummy inside and grilled delicious outside. Have I mentioned before how much it totally rocks to have a hubby who will venture outside to barbecue mid-winter? Sweetness.........

Bulgur Risotto with Peas and Asparagus
Shamelessly stolen from epicurious.

5 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups bulgur
4 cups (about) chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups frozen peas (don't bother to thaw)
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
Additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until light golden, about 5 minutes.

2. Mix in bulgur. Add 1/2 cup stock and cook until absorbed, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup stock 2 more times, simmering after each addition and stirring often until liquid is absorbed.

3. Mix in asparagus. Continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time until bulgur is just tender and mixture is creamy, simmering after each addition and stirring often until stock is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

4. Add peas and cook 3 minutes longer. Stir in 3/4 cup Parmesan, cream, tarragon and remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Serve, passing additional grated Parmesan, if desired.

Serves 6 as a first-course. (I stuffed 6 small squash halves and had a TON leftover...which I promptly forgot about and left in the pot to congeal overnight...oops....).

Roasted Acorn Squash stuffed with Bulgur Risotto

(for side dishes, use small cute squash, for a main dish, use bigger time shouldn't be too different!)

3 small (or medium) acorn squash
1 recipe bulgur risotto

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Using every ounce of strength, cut the squash in half (it's at times like this that I jump up and down for having a chinese chopper).
2. Using a spoon (or knife), scrape out the seeds.
3. Place cut side down on parchment paper (or silpat, if YOUR hubby didn't cut through it with a butter knife). Bake squash for about 30-40 minutes, until soft but NOT collapsing. :)

steamy acorn squash

4. Fill squash with bulgur risotto. Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes. Serve topped with grated parmesan!!!!

Chicken stuffed with prosciutto and rosemary, topped with cider vinegar reduction

6 chicken breasts
1/4 cup kosher (coarse) salt
2 T sugar
1 cup hot water, 7-8 cups cold
6 slices prosciutto
1/4 cup (give or take) dijon mustard
2-3 T chopped fresh rosemary (don't use dried - I initially wanted to use basil, but my store was out)
montreal steak spice (or salt and pepper)

1. In a glass 9x13 pan, dissolve the kosher salt and sugar in the 1 cup of hot water. Once it's mostly dissolved, add the cold water.

2. Place the chicken in the brine mixture and let sit for about 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, take the prosciutto, and spread each slice generously with dijon mustard. Sprinkle with some fresh rosemary, and roll up into a tight little tube like a cigar.

stuffin' for my chicken

4. To stuff the chicken (and not have it all fall out!), take a butcher knife and make a hole in the thick end of the chicken (stab it straight in, and wiggle it around, so the chicken has a little slit in it).

5. Take the prosciutto roll and gently (or not so gently) stuff it into the end of the chicken. Make sure that none of the prosciutto is sticking out. With this stuffing method, you should be able to do pretty much anything to your chicken without it falling apart! :) It's a revolution! To season, sprinkle with some montreal steak spice.

stuffed chicken!

6. Preheat the grill to medium heat, and cook for about 25 minutes (or until chicken is completely cooked through - cut to check if you're not sure).

I served this with a tangy, yummy sauce....

For cider vinegar sauce
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup sliced shallots
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt broth
1 1/2 cups beef stock or canned broth

Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add shallots; sauté until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add sugar. Sauté until shallots are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add vinegar; boil 2 minutes. Add both stocks; boil until liquid is reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 40 minutes. Strain.

This sauce never thickens, so you *could* perhaps add a bit of cornstarch if you like your sauce thick. It was nice the way it was, but it was definitely just plain old liquid on the drizzly beauty here.

Anyway, hubs is getting annoyed with me for bloggin' away for so long tonight, so I shall have to end it here. Watch out for tarte tatin! Thanks for reading!

prosciutto stuffed chicken, bulgur risotto in acorn squash and cider vinegar sauce

souperoo with parsnips and cauliflower

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A dinner party is not a dinner party without a soup. I LOVE soup, and if I weren't so lazy, I could happily eat tasty homemade soup every day for the rest of my life.

So of course, when I was doing up the menu for my dinner party on Saturday, I HAD to have a soup. Yummy, yummy soupiness. I came across this recipe on Chowhound and thought that it might be rather tasty.

However, as written, it is bland city. I know there are those who would argue that the vegetables should stand on there own, but really, if boiled veggies were haute cuisine, then Britain would be the culinary epicentre of Europe....

You can check out Chowhound for the original recipe (only serves two - wtf is with that??? who makes two bowls of soup? if you're going to dirty all those dishes, don't you at least want some leftovers?)....anyway....

Cauliflower-Parsnip Soup with Beet Crisps
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, rinsed, and thinly sliced
Freshly ground white pepper
1 pound peeled, chopped parsnips
1 head cauliflower florets, chopped
5-6 cups stock (I used chicken)
1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron threads

1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter melts and foams, add the leek and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened but not completely cooked, about 3 minutes.

2. Add the parsnips and stir to coat with the oil. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until parsnips are softened but not completely tender. Do not let the vegetables color (bah, I don't really see the importance of perfectly BLAND white soup - let 'em colour)

3. Add the cauliflower, stir, and cook for about 1 minute. Add the stock and crushed saffron threads. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium low, and cook until vegetables are completely tender, about 8 to 9 minutes (due to inattention, mine probably bubbled away for 30 minutes or so).

4. Remove from heat and allow soup to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Purée the soup in a blender until it is completely smooth (again, I LOVE the immersion blender - less mess, less work!) Return soup to stove over medium-low heat. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve topped with beet crisps (which are hopefully crispier than mine)

Beet crisps

So, hubs still hates beets, and I'm still in LOVE with their fuschia brilliance. Not so much in love with their awe-inspiring ability to dye me pink, but gotta admire something that has that much natural power.

I *really* think this recipe would benefit from either the use of a mandoline or someone with far superior chopping skills...I did my best, but my slices weren't really thin enough to get crispy. They still worked pretty well though - and when you stirred them into the soup, they added a lovely touch of pink.

1 medium beet
1 cup vegetable oil

For the beet crisps:
1. Trim the top off the beet and peel it, leaving a 1-inch-wide layer of skin near the top so that you don’t dye your hand while slicing. Using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, make very thin slices of beet. (Yeah right - the vegetable peeler sucked, I ended up using a knife and rather awkwardly making the thinnest slices my amateur hands could do)

beet carnage

2. In a small saucepan, heat oil to 375°F. (The oil should be a depth of about 1/2 inch.) Add several beet slices and fry for about 30 to 45 seconds, shaking the pan a little. Remove beets from oil with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining beet slices.

Here are my beet slices afterward....decidedly mushy, but still kinda pretty, no?

sad and sorry looking beets

Serve soup topped with beet chips. I almost think it would work better to julienne the raw beet and kinda stack it on would be just as pretty, but less work! Overall though, this wasn't the most amazing soup I've ever had - it was definitely decent, but could have used more seasoning....I initially thought to add some of my beloved smoked paprika (which would have been great), but since I've added it two my last couple soups, I thought I would step out of my newfound comfort zone.


cauliflower parsnip soup with beet "crisps"

a slightly sad start

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So I hosted some friends of ours this past Saturday for a fun dinner full of overindulgence, wine, water (oops) and food. I tried a whole whack of new recipes, as usual guinea pigging my unsuspecting (or perhaps at least slightly suspecting) guests on new recipes, culinary experiments and delightful nibblies.

Sadly, I had all of these delusions of a wonderfully sophisticated appetizer....belgian endive leaves, capped with fresh figs, crumbled feta and candied pecan halves....sweet, salty, acidic, all in sounded like a rather enticing beginning to what I hoped would be a tasty meal....

Well....I was foiled. Normally, when I have people over for dinner, I do most of my prep the night before (i.e., shopping, making soup, dessert, etc.) so the day I of, I usually need only worry about salad and bread. It didn't quite work out that way this time, so at 10am Saturday morning, hubs and I whipped out to our friendly neighbourhood Loeb to pick up the things I needed.

They didn't have endives. They didn't have figs. They didn't even have freaking pecans! Clearly, the endive appetizer was not meant to be.

It was actually kinda funny, I'd whipped through the store (while I sent hubs to the butcher and liquor shops) and then wandered back to the produce/cheese section. It was there that hubs found me, standing, lost, forlorn and highly peeved that I had to think of a new appetizer on the spot.

Eventually (after a few minutes of staring and scowling at the cheese in front of me), I decided on something quick and easy - smoked salmon with cream cheese on rye. I had capers, red onion and little slivers of lemon to garnish. It wasn't quite what I initially wanted, but I think it did the trick, especially because dinner was subjected to a weeeeeeeeeeee delay.

Totally my fault too. Some days, I really just shouldn't be doing anything that requires coordination. I was pouring water. And, because I'd set the table beforehand, I was pouring it at the table.

Bad bad BAD idea for me. Of course our Brita filter doesn't hold quite enough for six glasses of part-way through, I had to refill the thing. And by this point, I was getting impatient for dinner (hubs was late) and didn't want my guests to feel forced to stay uber I made the fatal error of NOT waiting for the water to gently and oh-so-slowly trickle its way through that blasted filter.

The next thing that happened is perhaps a bit too obvious.....of course the lid popped off the Brita. Of course the Brita is super huge and like a litre of water splashed across the table. And of course I used a table cloth and not place mats. And of course I have a brand new custom solid maple dining table. Gah.

Hence another dinner delay. Had to UNset the table, and throw the table cloth in the dryer (because OF COURSE it's the only tablecloth I have that fits the new table).


But at least we had salmon to tide us over!

lazy lazy appetizer

Friday, February 16, 2007


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First, I'd like to thank Jasmine over at Cardamom Addict for hosting this month's Sugar High Friday. :) The theme is sweet seduction.....

I have now officially been seduced by the fattening witch who is Nigella Lawson. Thus far, I've not been privy to the food porn featured on the Food Network, because I've been unable to commit to digital cable (I'm SO cheap and just can't fathom paying hundreds of extra dollars every year so I can get fat).

So I've never seen the shows that people rant and/or rave about (depending on if they are on chowhound or not). For our romantic Valentine's dinner, I was all set to attempt a tarte tatin (probably a silly dessert idea for two people - instead I'll make it for a dinner party tomorrow).....but then I read about Nigella's chocohotopots.

And there was no way that I wasn't making them. I'm not even hormonal and yet this chocolatey richness just sucked me right in. It's so simple, and yet so decadent. It was a great choice for a weeknight dinner because I threw it together the night before, and it was the absolute perfect foil for some nummy strong italian coffee.

The rest of our dinner was not bad - I made brie en croûte (don't be impressed - you take a brie wheel, cut it in half, fill with hot pepper jelly, and then wrap in purchased puff pastry and bake at 400F for about 25 minutes), french onion soup (ended up being decidedly underwhelming due to the ridiculous overfruitiness of the sauvignon blanc used to flavour it), steamed king crab legs (AWESOME, but not exactly a recipe...ya just steam 'em!).

And so this really was the crowning glory of this romantic meal. Hubs is so cute, on V-day, it took me TWO freaking hours to get home from work due to a massive snowstorm, and so I was cold, tired and highly grumped out. But when I opened the door, I saw a dozen red roses, a table set for two, I heard gentle jazzy music and all my grumpiness melted away. What a cutie pie.

So we both enjoyed this amazing dessert. I think Nigella's cook times are quite off, so I've modified the recipe just a touch. You can see her video of it on YouTube...umm...the entire internet community seems to have a rather unhealthy fixation on her if you ignore the comments, at least you can get something out of the video...hahahaa.

Nigella Lawson's Chocohotopots with Berry Coulis

1 cup frozen berries
1/4 cup superfine sugar

1. Combine berries and superfine sugar.
Frozen Freshness

2. Blend away until smooth. Some would argue that straining is a good idea. *Personally* I am not in this camp, as I attempted to strain this stuff, and all I succeeded in doing was covering my pepper grinder and counter in the stuff. ANd the blasted coulis wouldn't even go THROUGH the strainer. Seeds add fibre anyway.

3. I put the coulis in a small ziploc bag at this point - when you want to drizzle, just give the corner a snip and go nuts.

1 stick butter (1/2 cup or 1/4 pound)
125 g chocolate (I used 76% dark chocolate for 100 g and semi-sweet chocolate chips for the rest)
2 eggs
3 T flour
1 t vanilla
3/4 c superfine sugar (i've heard you can sub granulated, or you can just stick granulated in a food processor for a bit)

Special equipment: 4 (2/3 to 1-cup capacity) ramekins

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter the ramekins with 1 tablespoon butter.

2. Either in a microwave or in a bowl suspended over a pan over simmering water, melt the dark chocolate and 1 stick butter, then set aside to cool a little (microwave all the way my friends!)
Butter and chocolate

3. In another bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar and flour and vanilla with a hand whisk and beat in the cooled butter and chocolate mixture. Divide the mixture between the 4 buttered ramekins.

4. Bake for about 15 minutes, by which time the tops will be cooked and cracked and the chocolate gooey underneath. (Nigella's recipe says 20 minutes, but it's TOO long).

5. I drizzled berry coulis on the plate and then put the ramekin on top. It looked pretty. :) Place each ramekin on a small plate with a teaspoon and serve. Make sure to warn people that these desserts will be HOT!

seduction in a ramekin

Yum! Stay tuned for a dinner party extraordinaire....stuffed chicken, tarte tatin and more!

pizza perfection

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I loves me a good pizza. This is one food that I seem to obsess over, relish and cherish in just about any format. I love thin crust, delicate Italian pizza. I love thick crust, greasy, Americanized pizza. I love anything in between. I'll eat almost anything on pizza (barring pineapple - sorry, just doesn't go).

But I always love trying something a little different....a little off the beaten track. Something so plain and boring, that somehow it seems exotic and fascinating. While pizza here in Canada seems to be a little over-cheesed, over-sauced and overly meaty, other countries have such interesting takes on this classic pie.

When I lived on my own in France, ordering a pizza was an indulgence for me. Cooking for one got old REALLY quick (particularly when your kitchen consists of a hot plate and bar fridge!), so it was a great treat to order (and devour!) an entire pizza. Yeah, I know...bad. Anyway, in doing so, I got a chance to explore some rather different pizza of my favourites was the reine pizza, festooned with the simplicity of mushrooms and ham (can't go wrong there!), but I discovered a truly amazing piece of pizza awesomeness.

It was the pizza dauphinoise from Allo-Pizza. I initially ordered it because it was cheap, but then I continued to order it because of its sumptuous yumminess. The toppings are simple - oregano, potatoes, cheese, persillade and crème fraîche.

My foray into persillade last week reminded me that it had been nearly five years since I last tasted this wonderful delicacy. So I hung on to the last vestiges of my persillade and started to plot....

And awesome pizza was had by all. Even hubs, who normally eschews my vegetarian pizzas for pepperoni-laden monstrosities, dove into this, having seconds and then thirds. Really yummy.

On a very sad note though, it is an RIP for my Silpat. I left my hungry hubby unsupervised and he CUT THROUGH IT with a butter knife while trying to get himself more pizza. I'm crushed.

;) He promised he'd get me a new one though.

Pizza dauphinoise

Crust (adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, a book that any budding chef should aspire to own!)
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 c cornmeal
2 t fleur de sel
1-1 1/4 cups warm water
2 T plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

1. Combine the yeast, flour, cornmeal and salt in the container of a food processor.
Pizza dough in progress!

2. Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water and 2 T olive oil through the feed tube. Process for about 30 secs,m adding more water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a sticky ball. If it's too try, add another tablespoon of water (if too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour).

3. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface (I like parchment paper) and knead by hand a few seconds to form a smooth, round dough ball.
Pizza dough
(it's smooth-ish, alright????)

4. Grease a bowl with the remaining olive oil and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let rise in a warm draft-free area for about 1 hour (I think my yeast is toast because mine never really rose that much).

5. At this point, you can make pizza, or freeze your dough for up to a month. May I suggest pizza? I used this to make one large rectangular pizza (about 11x17 inches).

1 recipe pizza crust
1-2 small cooked potatoes, sliced (I nuked mine while I was waiting for the dough to rise)
1 onion, minced
1 small can pizza sauce (about 1 cup - you could go all martha on me and make your own, but seriously, I think if you make your own dough and persillade, you've totally earned the right to canneriffic sauce!)
5-6 ounces grated mozzarella
1-2 ounces grated manchego (or use cheddar)
1-2 ounces grated parmesan
2-3 tablespoons persillade (blended mix of evoo, flat-leaf parsley, garlic, salt and lemon zest)
1/4 c crème fraîche (I just used low-fat sour cream)
italian seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 450F. Spread out your pizza crust on a greased rectangular cookie sheet (if you're lucky enough to have a baking stone or pizza peel, use that and adjust accordingly - I presume if you have one, you should know how to use it....if you don't, feel free to pass it along! hahahahaha). Use patience to get the dough to spread. The gluten needs to relax, so give it a few tries.

2. Brush your crust with olive oil. Then top with sauce.

3. Sprinkle cheese over pizza - I grate my mozzarella coarsely, and use a fine grated for the additional cheeses. I like a blend of cheese, but you could forgo the others in lieu of just mozza if that's to your taste.

4. Sprinkle your cheesy pizza with italian seasoning.

5. Top with potato slices and minced onion, then add dabs of persillade and crème fraîche.

6. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Keep an eye on your pizza and make sure the toppings are done to your liking (I like my cheese browned, some people prefer it runny).

Enjoy! I suggest wine. Actually, no, I command wine. dauphinoise

Sunday, February 11, 2007

m-p-v done right

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Regular readers will know of my periodic rants about unadventurous eaters.....people who maintain that a meal is not a meal unless it includes meat (m), potatoes (p) and vegetables (v...duh). And they better not touch. Or have any weird sauce or seasoning.

Drives me nuts. But that's not to say that m-p-v type meals are precluded from being tasty.....they just have to be done right. Sure, you could have well-done steak, boiled potatoes and frozen vegetables.....but just imagine if you took it to the next level.....a nice thick steak (from a happy cow ;) ), drizzled with a rich green peppercorn sauce......potatoes that have been stuffed with tang and flavour....and a salad befitting its own regional nomenclature.

Now we're talking food. And it's actually courtesy of my brother......he's a more than occasional weekend visitor (not sure if he comes for the food or the company), and tends to be more of a typical m-p-v eater. So he bought me some steak, some massive potatoes, bocconcini and spinach.

And so I played with it a bit, and came up with grilled top sirloin with green peppercorn cream sauce, twice-baked potatoes with horseradish and dijon and caprese salad. And if I hadn't downed nearly a half pound of chorizo while I was cooking, I probably would have eaten a little more. :)

Insalata Caprese
I can't say how much I love this salad. There are billions of version out there, mine's definitely not anything close to authentic....but it's yummy. Generally, this salad consists of fresh buffalo mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, olive oil and basil. I change it up a bit, but the flavour inspiration remains.

fresh baby greens (mesclun mix, arugular or spinach)
1 pint grape tomatoes
200 g bocconcini (minis)
1 bunch fresh basil
balsamic vinaigrette (1 T balsamic vinegar, 1/2 t fleur de sel, 3 T evoo, 1 T dijon mustard)

1. Arrange greens on a place. Top with grape tomatoes and mini bocconcini.
2. Drizzle vinaigrette and sprinkle basil. Yum.
Oooo....and check out my fun new triangle plate. I'm sure you'll see it again soon. :)
Insalata caprese

Twice-baked potatoes with horseradish and dijon
3 MASSIVE baking potatoes
2 T horseradish
1 T dijon mustard
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t black pepper, cracked
1/3 c sour cream
1/4 c whipping cream
garnish - parmesan cheese, paprika

1. Set the oven to 400F. Pierce the potatoes so they don't explode. Bake for about 1 hour (or until soft).
2. Set the potatoes on a flat surface....figure out their most stable side (i.e., so they don't roll over once stuffed). Cut the top 1/2 inch off the potatoes. Hollow them out with a spoon, putting the flesh in a bowl. Be careful, as the baked potato is really brutally freaking hot (yes, I burnt myself yet AGAIN). Meh.
Hollow potatoes!

3. To the potato flesh, add the horseradish, dijon mustard, sea salt, black pepper, sour cream and whipping cream. Use an electric mixer to beat this until it's nice and fluffy. You want a consistency similar to icing, because you want it to be pipe-able, but still hold its shape. Add more liquid if needed.

4. Using a spoon, fill the potatoes until they're just below level.

5. I have a very handy little icing gun (picture above) and works great for simple piping jobs. Since I'm really not a baking/pastry person, this is totally adequate for my needs. I fill it up and use it to decorate the very top of the potatoes.
Decorated, waiting to be browned

6. Top with grated parmesan and or paprika. Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes. Alternatively, you could fill these with goat cheese, chives, roasted garlic, etc. I used what I had available (which wasn't much), but you can use your imagination a bit for these. People will be super impressed with their pretty potatoes.

Steak with Green Peppercorn Cream Sauce
2 pounds grilling steak (I like top sirloin due to lack of fat and marbling - it's still quite tender and flavourful too. A good balance all around).
Top Sirloin

montreal steak spice (for grilling)

1. Allow steaks to come to room temperature. Trim of visible fat. Sprinkle with Montreal Steak Spice and grill to desired doneness.

Peppercorn sauce
1 T evoo
1 shallot, minced
3 T marsala wine
1 cup concentrated beef broth (i.e., if you're using bouillon use 2 packages, or if you're using homemade, take 2 cups and boil it away until it's reduced to 1 cup)
1 cup whipping cream
2 T green peppercorns in brine, drained and rinsed (these are fun to find.....ask your grocer if you can't find them!)

1. In a small pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until translucent. Add marsala.
2. When marsala is evaporated, add broth, whipping cream and peppercorns. Boil until it reduces to sauce consistency (about 30 minutes). Serve over steak.

Hubs rocks at bbq'ing.
Dinner time!

one of many reasons why I totally married the right man

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My husband is so cute. Like really, honestly, one of the most adorable men I have ever met. One night a week, I have a three-hour night class, leaving hubs to fend for himself....sometimes I'll stick something in the crockpot, but more often than not, he has to come up with something on his own.

When hubs was first left to his own nutritional devices (like seven years ago), he lived primarily on Lipton Sidekicks, dining on such delicacies as instant risotto, scalloped potatoes, or the perennial favourite, teriyaki noodles. It was in this state that I found him....a connoisseur of sodium, preservatives and articifical flavouring.

In the last six years, hubs has discovered the joys of virtually any cuisine (he's way less picky than I am) and has actually started to cook a bit. And spaghetti is his specialty.....usually he fills it with ground beef, lotsa garlic and all kinds of other yummy things.

Due to my newfound aversion to grocery-store meat, meat has been in scarce hubs decided to make himself a big pile of veggie spaghetti for dinner, while I was away trying to get smarter.

Not only did he make AWESOME spaghetti, he actually took pictures and documented it for me. How darn cute is that. Hubs is a far better photographer than I am....if you like haunting amazing places, you can check out some of his stuff on flickr. He typed out his recipe and everything....and he actually one-upped me on the photos - I usually just crank the ISO to 1000 so I don't need to drag the tripod into the kitchen.....he actually the tripod all set up too! Granted, that tripod has been in some pretty sketch places.....but really.....he's so cute. What a guy.

Hubby's Vegetarian Spaghetti

- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 2-3 cups chopped mushrooms
- 2 cups diced peppers (red or green)
- 2 cups diced red onion
- 1-2 cups diced cherry tomatoes
- 1 finely chopped hot pepper
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 3-5 basil leaves, finely chopped
- Montreal Steak Spice
- extra vigin olive oil
- 3 cups your favourite tomato sauce
- 1 pound spaghetti

1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Using a deep frying fan, pour enough olive oil to spread out and barely cover the bottom.
2. Shake in a healthy amount of Montreal Steak Spice.
3. Press the garlic into the pan and stir on medium heat.
4. Add red onion and continue stirring.
Red onion, garlic and evoo
5. Add the various chopped vegetables gradually over several minutes. As a rule of thumb, begin with the firmer/crunchier
veggies (celery, peppers) and leave the softer ones (mushrooms, tomatoes) for last.
6. While stirring, season to taste... I added a few shakes of dill weed and thyme.
7. Add pasta sauce and simmer until your pasta is ready.

Veggie spaghetti, prepared by hubs

:) Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for steak and potato madness!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

scovillian sacrilege

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Chowdown in t-3, 2, 1.....

So I ate something so hot last night I almost couldn't breathe. I've never had anything burn quite like that before....

I'm actually quite peeved, because the cause of my pain, misery and wretched burning was not actually even a hot pepper, as far as peppers go.

It wasn't the mighty habanero that seared my entire mouth and esophagus, but the lowly jalapeno. The heat of a chili pepper is measured in the amount of capsaicin it has (in parts per million), in Scoville units. I like a nice pepper, and often fill curries with Serrano peppers (technically, like 5 times hotter than jalapenos). I have no problems with amounts of Serrano peppers in my food.

But the blasted jalapeno is the most inconsistent beast. It drives me NUTS. Sometimes I buy a jalapeno and it's so mild, it's more like a bell pepper than anything else. No spice whatsoever. And other times, it's SO spicy it actually makes the food have an almost 'chemical' taste to it. It's not a tasty pepper. (Case in point: last night). a sauce to go on my wraps (which were awesome, eventually), I thought it would be tasty to mix together fat-free plain yogourt and minced jalapeno pepper, thinking that the yogourt would cut a lot of the heat. Maybe it does, but not enough.

I actually even attempted to bbq - the shrimp for our wraps was marinated in a yummy yogourt chipotle marinade, and then skewered and grilled. Hubs wasn't really up to grilling outside, so I decided to give it a whirl. I don't seem to have great luck when it comes to outdoor grilling (usually end up charring something beyond all recognition because I forget to go check it), and this incident did nothing to improve my track record.

After what seemed like an eternity out in the arctic blast, I thought the shrimp were done (though it was FREEZING and snowing, so it was hard to see, so I brought them back inside. I made a very pretty looking wrap with them, but when I cut it, I could see that the little guys were not cooked enough....decided lack of opacity the whole way through. So I took the remaining shrimp and shuttled them back out onto the grill.

But I didn't want to waste my yummy wrap that I'd already put together, so I decided to eat a bit of it (undercooked shrimp and all). The first bite was wonderful - tangy shrimp, sweet mango, the distinctive taste of coriander, and a pleasant, creamy bit of heat from the jalapeno yogourt. Delightful. Eagerly, I scarfed down the rest of that half of the sandwich.

And that's when things started to go wrong. What started as a pleasant level of heat just escalated and escalated until I actually had trouble breathing. My whole throat felt like it was swelling shut, my eyes were streaming and on top of this, the stupid shrimp were still out on the bbq. So I'm wildly grabbing the first creamy thing I see in the fridge (a large tub of vanilla yogourt) and forcing it down my throat, while grunting and gesturing to hubs to go save the rest of the shrimp.

It took two pounds of yogourt and nearly 30 minutes for me to be able to talk again. All from a STUPID jalapeno. Hubs was laughing at me, and I couldn't even yell at him, because even a five second break from yogourt scarfing caused my throat and mouth to absolutely burn. It was the worst thing ever.

Needless to say, my second wrap had NO jalapeno.....just plain yogourt. Hubs didn't have a single problem with scarfing down the hot peppers.....I'm not really sure why I did, as normally, I quite enjoy reasonable amounts of heat in my food.....this just wasn't pleasant though. I don't mind a burn where I sweat a little, but the whole "I think my throat is closing" feeling just sucked the big one.

But the wraps are AWESOME. This really is a yummy combination. And winter bbq'ing is always such a lovely treat. I LOVE the taste of grilled food, so this wrap was almost like a little touch of summer to liven up the cold. If you don't eat shrimp, you could easily use chicken, or even marinated roasted veggies for this. Highly recommended. Just maybe not the evil jalapeno......

Tandoori Shrimp Wraps with Chipotle and Mango!

1 pound shelled shrimp
1 cup plain yogourt
2 T fresh garlic, minced
2 T ginger, minced
3 chipotle peppers, minced
2 t adobo sauce (from chipotles)
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T fresh lime juice
1/2 t cumin
1 t curry powder
1/2 t salt

1. Combine yogourt, garlic, ginger, chipotles, adobo sauce, lemon and lime juices, cumin, curry powder and salt. Let marinate for 1 hour (prepare your toppings in the meantime).

Marinated Shrimp - pre BBQ

2. To cook, skewer the shrimp (unless you find it fun to have them all slip through the grill and burn!) and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, until shrimp are done.

Here are my mostly-cooked shrimp....not quite cooked....back on the grill they went!
BBQ'd shrimp (kinda)

1 cup diced mango
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup chopped coriander
1/2 cup yogourt (mixed with 1/2 jalapeno, at your discretion)
1 cup baby greens
8 flatbreads

In this picture, if you look carefully, you can see the little green pieces of jalapeno that led to my throat itches just thinking about it...gah.
Wrap toppings!

To make tasty sandwiches......
1. Warm up your flatbread. Top with baby greens.
2. Add one skewer of shrimp (about 6-7), some mango, red onion, coriander and a bit of yogourt sauce. Again, hot peppers at your own risk.
3. Wrap up and enjoy!

Yummy wrap!

Loved this. Will make again, but sans jalapenos.....burn, baby burn.........

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

redemption...sweet squash pepper redemption

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The cheese incident yesterday was not boding well for my cooking this week....the lingering odour when I got home from work today had me wishing we had one of those ionizing air filters to rid the house of all vestiges and memories of that putrified dairy product.

But today brought new food and new scents to the kitchen. Lovely, sweet, veggie scents. Soupy yummy scents. The taste and colour of spring, providing a bright spot in a dim, dreary winter.

Is there anything more cozy-smelling than soup bubbling away on the stove-top?

I'd argue there isn't (though roast turkey comes close). Soup is such a warm, filling comfort food....and puréed vegetable soup is a personal favourite of mine. When I was trying to come up with our menu plan this week, I was flipping through Cooking Light and came across a pumpkin-yellow pepper soup recipe that someone else has been so kind to post on RecipeZaar for your perusal. What attracted me to this recipe was not the pumpkin, but the fact that it could be adapted to use the 400g block of no-longer-frozen squash I had sitting in my fridge. Initially I defrosted it, thinking to use it in ravioli...but then I filled my ravioli with crab and had this squash.....sitting purposeless...

So I made squash pepper soup with smoked paprika. And while I was in the midst of making it, I decided that parsley leaves (initial garnish idea) were boring, and that persillade was the thing to top this soup. Persillade is kind of like a French version of pesto - fresh herbs, garlic, lemon and salt. Very simple, but a little blast of fresh flavour and a flash of colour.

Also, the initial recipe called for pumpkin seeds (that my discount grocery store didn't have) so I used wee little sunflower seeds to make mine look pretty. I served this with my classic green salad (using baby arugula and a red wine vinaigrette) and a few little cherry tomatoes. Yum. Hubs says two thumbs up. I concur. If you like soup, you'll love this. The bonus is that it offered me a chance to use a little bit more of the fabulous smoked paprika I bought a couple of weeks ago.

You should all throw out your regular paprika right now. Toss it! Find yourself some good spanish smoked stuff and you'll never look back. Ever. Again. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmy.

Sweet Squash Pepper Redemption with Persillade
1 T olive oil
3.5 cups chopped yellow pepper (about 3 medium)
1.5 cups chopped carrot (about 2 big ones)
1 chopped red pepper
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
3/4 t smoked paprika (I used bittersweet)
900 mL low-sodium broth (I used chicken, you could use whatever) (about 3.5 cups)
16oz/400g container squash purée
2 T lemon juice
black pepper to taste

1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add peppers, carrot and onion. Sauté for about 10 minutes, until the veggies are softened and *just* starting to fuse to the pan.
Yellow pepper, carrot and red pepper

2. Add garlic and smoked paprika and stir to combine.

Bittersweet smoked paprika

3. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes (or until veggies are soft). *If you're making persillade, now is a good time to do it. :)

4. Using an immersion blender, purée the softened veggies until relatively smooth. Add the squash and lemon juice and purée a little more. I like my soups relatively thick, so this was a perfect texture for me. If you like your soup thinner, simply add a little more broth or water and blend a little more. Yummy! Heat through.

To serve, top with persillade and a few sunflower seeds. This will warm you up on a winter night fo sho.

1/3 cup (packed) flat leaf parsley
1/2 t lemon zest
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t fleur de sel
3 T olive oil


Put everything in a container and blend away. :) You can drizzle this on chicken, fish, or soups. I've actually had it on pizza (with sliced cooked potato) and it was amazing. I need to do that again sometime....

Squash Pepper Soup with Persillade

This dinner totally redeems yesterday's mess. I can't wait for soupy goodness for lunch tomorrow. :) Provided, of course, it doesn't explode all over my briefcase before I get to work...stay tuned for indian-mexican fusion tomorrow....chipotle....tandoori...shall the twain ever meet?

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 05, 2007

if it smells bad, it tastes....

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I've long been a believer in the power of involuntary memory. Sometimes, the mere scent, sound or taste of something can have the power to literally transport you (or your consciousness at least) to some other place.

For some people, it could be the smell of a campfire, or the taste of some long-forgotten treat. While songs tend to be a trigger for me, there are certain scents that have marked themselves indelibly in my memory, and whose reappearance never fails to bring about a strong bout of nostalgia.

In the literary sphere, Marcel Proust wrote a TON about this, devoting one entire portion of his giant epic, À la recherche du temps perdu, to characters who lived their mundane lives, enlivened only by the appearance of this type of memory (like in Du côté de chez Swann). But's a really long long LONG book. You don't want to read it. I only had to read like 100 pages of it, but it was so dense I nearly lost my mind.

But I digress....where was I.....oh....involuntary memory. The thing with this is that it has the propensity to strike in the most unusual places. Like Costco. That evil big box behemoth where I now longer purchase oh SO many things due to factory farm support. Hubs and I were wandering the aisles, in search of laundry detergent and frozen shrimp, when I decided to head over to the cheese aisle, thinking I could pick up some gruyère or emmentaler for our crêpes this week.

Lo and behold, I spotted what looked like a beautiful little Camembert sitting in its wooden box, beckoning to me. I was drawn to its simple, european rusticity, so devoid of shrink wrap and industrialization. It seemed fated - the small alluring box, the $2 off sign overhead. This was meant to be.

And so I picked it up. And sniffed gingerly at it.....and instantly, I wasn't in Costco. I was in a French market, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of artisanal produce....not the shove and bully of massive carts overstuffed with such wares as toilet paper, chips and pop. I had to have this cheese. The seductive earthen scent drove me to madness....

Stinky, yucky cheese

I should have known better.

The thing is, as 'sophisticated' a palate as I attempt to have. I REALLY don't like very many cheeses...I really haven't evolved much beyond cheddar. Mind you, I love a good, really old crumbly block of balderson or perron...but still cheddar. It has a particular that I love and crave. But, I thought I would try to branch out.

I actually enjoy many sorts of brie and camembert (mild cheese, admittedly), generally on some nice baguette. I thought that mixing this kind of cheese in with egg, sauteed veggies and galette de sarrasin (buckwheat crêpe) would really be quite lovely.

And to some would have been. But OMG....that was awful. It was almost as bad as the time that hubs and I ended up on a six course tasting menu in France. One of the courses was a cheese course, and as we still like to of them, the "ass-cheese" (as hubs so eloquently dubbed it), just kept on tasting and tasting and tasting. A lot of value for your buck, that one.

YUCK. So....not only did I stink up the car on the way home from Costco, I stunk up the fridge (despite me putting the offending ball of rot in a ziploc), and I've now stunk up our entire house. Seriously, it's pure raunch. If I could open the windows and not die, I would. GAH.

So....moral of the story is, artisanal raw-milk camembert and I do NOT go together. I tried...I really did. But holy nasty.

That said, those of you who actually enjoy this type of cheese (think normal Camembert times about a trillion) would probably have LOVED this dinner. The crêpes were yummy, the veggies were delicious, and once I pitched the stench and replaced it with (discount, yellow) cheddar, I had a yummy meal on hand.

So I'm sure you all want to try this now. ;) Keep in mind that crêpes can be filled with anything. This Breton special is so flexible - ham, cheese, vegetables, eggs, fruit, ice cream, etc. - you can have anything your heart desires in a galette or crêpe.

Before I share the recipe, here's a little primer on how these are usually consumed in France...a main course crêpe is called a "galette de sarrasin" and is made with buckwheat flour. Normally, you would have 2-3 items inside your galette, and they don't typically have a sauce on them - just pure delicious ingredients. To accompany, you would order a nice french cidre. For Canuck readers, buckwheat flour can be found in abundance at Bulk Barn, and cider is a little harder to track down, but if you're wiley and tenacious (today I was both), you can procure it in the Vintages section of the LCBO (Vintages 2022). Not easy to find though.

Dessert crêpes are called "crêpes de froment" and can be filled with all manner of wonderful things (particular favourites include nutella/banana, caramelized apple and plain old sugar and lemon). Of course, in a pinch, you can sub one kind of crêpe for the other and you certainly will live to tell the tale.

And will all of that ramble and is the recipe!

Galettes de Sarrasin
350 g buckwheat flour (about 2 cups, from what my measuring cup tells me)
10 g fleur de sel (about 2 t sea salt)
75 cl cold water (3 cups)
1 egg

1. Combine the flour and the fleur de sel.
350g buckwheat flour
2. Using a whisk, add in the cold water. Whisk away until no lumps remain.
3. Whisk in the egg and combine throughly. Allow batter to rest for at least 60 minutes. Not sure why, but everyone says you have to. So do it.

Meanwhile......prepare your fillings....

Sautéed Veggies
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
1 red pepper, chopped into 2 inch strips
12 oz oyster mushrooms, chopped in strips
1 clove garlic
1 T olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add vegetables and sauté to desired doneness. Season to test with salt and pepper.
oyster mushrooms, red pepper and asparagus

Galettes (continued)

1. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium/medium-high heat. The skillet is hot when you can have drops of water "dance" on it (when you flick them).
2. Have a small bowl of oil, and a 1/2 cup measure handy. Dip a paper towel in the oil and rub it on the skillet, so you have a very thin brush of oil over the whole surface.
3. Using the 1/2 cup measure, scoop just under 1/2 cup of batter into the hot skillet, and swirl it around with the other hand, to spread the batter out. Don't worry if it's not perfect (and the first one definitely won't be!) all tastes the same in the end.
4. Watch the galette carefully.....when the edges start to pull away from the pan, slide a spatula underneath and flip it over. Give it about 30 seconds and remove from the pan. (I just pile them all on a plate). It's better if your crêpe is a teeny bit underdone, because it will go back in the pan to warm up the filling later.
Here's one of my rounder specimens...

5. Repeat until you run out of batter, re-oiling the pan before each one. You may need to adjust the heat, if you find the crêpe is getting too crispy at the edges before the centre is done.

To make filled crêpes:
1. Make sure the pan is hot (though turn it down to just below medium for this...not super hot) and oiled.
2. Put your crêpe in the pan. If you are using an egg for filling, you should crack it onto the crêpe now (TIP: If you are like me and skeeved by food that runs away from you, lightly beat the egg in a bowl beforehand - this enables you to get eggy goodness without yucky, runny yolk).
3. Once the egg starts to set (I find this is aided by putting a lid on your pan), add the other filling ingredients (if you're not using an egg, start with cheese and put others on top).
Here is hubs' galette that he didn't eat. That cheese is seriously poison. I know it looks's NOT.
Filled galette
4. To serve, try to fold the edges over, so that only the centre of the crêpe is showing and then toss it on a plate. Here is mine, with my MUCH-needed cidre. Bah, that was so nasty.
Galette and cidre doux
5. Enjoy! Or.....if you're like us, bravely try to eat a bite or two and ooooooze sophistication....then give up and toss on the chedda.

The second crêpe was much better.....even if the cheese was orange (I let hubs pick out his fave this week since I didn't think I'd have to eat any).....
the one I actually ate....

I also made a little 'dessert' crêpe by taking one of the leftovers, sprinkling vanilla sugar and then drizzling lemon juice. Yum. Maple syrup is also wonderful (I'm saving that for brekkie.....)

Thanks for reading through my fromage-laced rambling tonight. This will teach me not to pretend to be a gourmet cheese connoisseur, because clearly, I am not.....and hopefully the next time a scent transports me through time and space....I'll remember that absence makes the heart grow's selective memory like this that allows for me to do this time and time again...come back tomorrow for adventures in soupitude.

Love the comments!!!!!

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