A pretty picture to start off the week


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On this plate, there is a small raspberry cupcake, an old fashioned bread pudding and a date and chocolate chip homemade muffin. Each one of them are in small bite portions but loaded with flavour.

I invite you to do lots of sports so that it becomes okay to eat all three in one sitting.

So, get on your bikes or go for a run, desert will be waiting when you get back.

Enjoy your week, my friends.

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Ye Olde Orchard Pub and Grill Restaurant Review


Ye Olde Orchard Pub & Grill, Saint-Sauveur

Ye Olde Orchard Pub & Grill, Saint-Sauveur

Yesterday, to celebrate father’s day with the Producer, we drove up North to charming Saint-Sauveur. This quaint little village is the locale of our very first date that September so long ago. We routinely do pilgrimages as a way of reminiscing. It’s become a family tradition. We do the same with Gananoque, locale of our honeymoon.

This time, we asked the iPhone to recommend an Irish pub in the Saint-Sauveur area. Iris informed us that the best one was Ye Olde Orchard Pub & Grill on Rue Principale (Main Street.)

The producer ordered fish and chips with a McAuslan Cream Ale.

The Producer and the Saint-Ambroise Cream Ale

The Producer and the Saint-Ambroise Cream Ale

I ordered thew grilled vegetable salad with McAuslan Abricot Wheat Ale.

St-Ambroise Abricot Wheat Ale

St-Ambroise Abricot Wheat Ale

McAuslan and St-Ambroise are the same company. So both beers are actually St-Ambroise and not McAuslan.

We started off with nachos served with homemade salsa. It was delicious.

Nachos and Homemade Salsa

Nachos and Homemade Salsa

As to the main courses, the portions were ginormous. I grazed so much that I’m surprised I did not yell “moo” all afternoon.

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Goat Cheese

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Goat Cheese

As to the fish and ships, there was more batter than fish on the fish. The Producer prefers two nice fillets to four. Typically, when they serve four, they add more grease and less fish.

Fish and Chips, batter much?

Fish and Chips, batter much?

Now, the beers were perfect. They were nice and refreshing after our trek on the Petit Train du Nord. The terrace was lovely (if you visit in the winter, the inside is very stale looking, it needs a complete re-haul).

It’s a great place to soak in the sun (I was in the shade while the Producer burnt to a crisp on the opposite side of the table), have a few beers with some nachos and snacks. The food was good but it’s more of a place to spend an afternoon drinking getting your buzz on. The service was very friendly.  Cheers!

Cooksploratrice and the St-Ambroise Abricot Wheat Ale

Cooksploratrice and the St-Ambroise Abricot Wheat Ale

Make the Ordinary Extraordinary


Omelets in muffin tins, a superb idea

Omelets in muffin tins, a superb idea

It’s Sunday lunch time and the fridge is full. There are a few things I want to clean out of the fridge as we get ready to start the new week. I have three baby potatoes and a few slices of ham left over. I decide to make an omelet. Now, to be honest, in my household omelets are not well perceived (I have made too many unfortunate misses in the omelet genre of cooking for my family to say “Wow! Omelets”) 

I sliced up the baked baby potatoes into thin slivers and sliced the ham into thin slivers as well. I whisked-in 8 eggs and added just enough milk to get a lovely creamy yellow. Then, I went into my herb garden and added some sliced chives. I then took a quarter of a cup of the mixture and put it into an individual muffin tin. I baked at 375 for about 25 minutes. After 10 minutes, we added in the cheese and the paprika. 

A little cheese, a little paprika for an Omelet makeover

A little cheese, a little paprika for an Omelet makeover

We let the omelet continue cooking for 15 more minutes after a bit of gratin. 

Cooked but not plated, don't they look good?

Cooked but not plated, don’t they look good?

Once they look about like this, broil them for 2 more minutes.

Mrs. Omelet is ready for her close-up! Say Cheese for the camera!

Mrs. Omelet is ready for her close-up! Say Cheese for the camera!

This is when the omelets will be camera-ready. 

3 creamy egg baskets are ready to be eaten.

3 creamy egg baskets are ready to be eaten.

On a plate, they look gorgeous. They taste great. They were inexpensive to make but it is not apparent on the plate.

This is the bouquet of eggs that look good enough to eat.

This is the bouquet of eggs that look good enough to eat.

My son and husband loved the omelets made this way. They said this would even be a great tapas to serve at one of my fancy dinners. 

Served with a green salad, this was the perfect Sunday lunch and it cleared out my fridge of a few left-overs. 

The presentation is the key. If I had served this in an omelet, they would have found it to be quite bland. It’s important to remember that we eat first with our eyes. Please the eyes and the stomach will follow. 

Happy Monday to one and to all. 

You sexy thang!


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I shared photos of the muffins in their baking tin but not of the muffins on a plate.
My apologies, my friends.

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Have an amazing Saturday!

Sexy Muffin Top!


I have discussed muffins before. You might find this a repeat but it’s not. I recently acquired silicon muffin trays and have been joyfully happy ever since.

They are a snack that my family particularly enjoys. Case in point, I have made so many muffins in the past few weeks that I am out of sugar, dried fruit, whole wheat flour and of an assortment of grains. I have completely cleaned out my pantry.

I love this new muffin recipe I have found. I tweaked it to my tastes (vanilla, cinnamon). The recipe was originally developed by Solutions Gourmandes chef Marie-Michèle Garon(http://www.canalvie.com/cuisine/recette/4150/muffins-aux-petits-fruits/)

Wet Ingredients

3 eggs

2/3 cups of vegetable oil (160 ml)

1/3 cup natural yogurt

1 tablespoon of vanilla

2 cups of dried fruits or dried fruit and nut combo (dark chocolate chips and dates, raisins, figs, cranberry, etc.) Dark chocolate and dates were such a hit, they disappeared in 1 day. If you mean to use dried berries, remember to incorporate the zest of one lemon and the juice of half a lemon to help enliven the taste.

Dry Ingredients

1 1/2 (375 ml) whole wheat flour

1 cup of old fashioned oats

2 cups seed mix (1/4 cup of flax seed, 1/4 sesame seed, 1/4 cup sunflower seed and 1/4 cup  pumpkin seed)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 pinch of salt

2 pinches of cinnamon

3/4 cups of sugar

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Whisk the wet ingredients

Blend the dry ingredients

Incorporate the wet and dry ingredients together

The Wet and Dry Mix

The Wet and Dry Mix

Drop a good portion of the mixture in silicon muffin trays

Overflowing muffin batter...for sexy muffin tops

Overflowing muffin batter…for sexy muffin tops

Bake for 30 minutes

Why the silicon muffin trays?

Because the muffins pop-out and clean up takes 2 seconds. It’s a game changer.

Why the Sexy Muffin Top Appellation?

Remember when in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of The Earth they encounter a forest deep underground with humongous mushrooms. I have had a visual of that scene ever since I was a little girl. I can recreate these humongous mushrooms with my artisanal muffins.

The silicon trays have small wholes which means the muffins are thin at the base. I fill the muffins to overflowing and thus ensure an uneven bulky muffin top. They are so sexy.

Prior to cooking...dressed and ready to bake

Prior to cooking…dressed and ready to bake

That’s how I bring sexy back! Take that Justin Timberlake.  🙂

Is that not HOT? LOL! see what I just did, they are hot because they are fresh out the oven and they are hot because they look good.

Is that not HOT? LOL! See what I just did, they are hot because they are fresh out the oven and they are hot because they look good.

A Fun Seed Mix


Happy Sunday My Good Friends,

I have a great seed mix for you.

Follow his nose, to something healthier than Fruit Loops Cereals.

Follow his nose, to something healthier than Fruit Loops Cereals.

If the birds like seeds, so should you! I’m sure you like the other thing that the birds and the bees do, there’s no reason why you should not try this too.

You should use this seed mix to hike up the health ratio of your smoothies, your yogurts or ice cream sundaes and even your muffin batter or cake batter. It adds a lovely touch of crunch and your kids will not reject it outright. I promise.

In the interest of full disclosure, I discovered this on a cooking show called Solution Gourmande on Canal Vie and the inventive chef Marie-Michelle Garon. The show airs on Sunday mornings. http://www.canalvie.com/emissions/solutions-gourmandes-a-moins-de-5/

The recipe is quite simple!

Ingredients

  • 1 part sesame seed
Sesame seed, pretty and healthy for you. Not just a pretty face!

Sesame seed, pretty and healthy for you. Not just a pretty face!

  • 1 part pumpkin seed
Pumpkin seed, green and delicious (once the husk is removed) Not just a Halloween treat!

Pumpkin seed, green and delicious (once the husk is removed) Not just a Halloween treat!

  • 1 part flax seed
Flax seed, healthy fiber for your colon.

Flax seed, healthy fiber for your colon.

  • 1 part sunflower seed
Sunflower seed, a tasty snack on its own and even better in my seed mix.

Sunflower seed, a tasty snack on its own and even better in my seed mix.

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, incorporate all ingredients
  • Transfer into a mixer
  • Buzz until the mixture forms fine grains (you don’t want a fine powder, you want to maintain a touch of crunch.
  • Transfer into a hermetic bowl for preservation

Why is it so healthy?

Flax seed is a healthy source of fiber both soluble and insoluble. It is chock full of Omega 3’s. The flax seed is an important contributor to good gastric health.

Sesame seed provides you with a healthy dose of calcium and magnesium. Your bones will thank you for consuming sesame. Also, it has cancer repelling properties.

Pumpkin seed helps provide a good night sleep and is also an excellent source of fiber which contributes to ensure regular bowel movements.

Sunflower seed provides you with a healthy young looking skin, it helps reduce stress levels and it helps maintain bone mass and bone density. It also helps your heart. It can also help with your respiratory tract.

What’s the bottom line?

The bottom line is this fun seed mix has impacts that will help your body from hair to toes.

Natural Wieners?


Natural Weiners? I think not!

Natural Wieners? I think not!

People today are health conscious.

They want to know what they are feeding their loved ones.

The food industry does not intend to help us with this effort.

Full disclosure would be harmful to the bottom line.

Natural wieners seem great on paper.

The kids get to eat healthy hot-dogs. It’s a way to get our cake and eat it too. Or is it really?

I will preface this chronicle with this extra piece of information: I am allergic to nitrites. It causes nausea, acid reflux, respiratory difficulties as well as nasty headaches.

Natural Wiener’s actually contain nitrites, but they are hidden in the celery powder. It’s smart branding from the food industry. It’s guerilla sales strategies. Disguise something bad for you in something that seems good and healthy enough. But, for someone like me, it’s dangerous.

Food companies are more and more creative at labelling things. And it’s harder and harder for the mere consumer to uncover the truth about food unless they use biological foods and prepare everything from scratch. Very few people have the time for such efforts.

The only strategy I can safely adopt is one of complete avoidance with the cold-cut and sausage family.

I will also indicate that in Europe, the labelling laws are much tougher and that everybody wins. In Canada and the US, the food industry calls the shots. In Asia, you can just imagine how the labelling laws would be extremely flexible. But Asia is not a very big consumer of packaged foods.

In Canada and the US, we eat the most junk and we don’t even get to know how junky what we eat really is. The government lets these companies get away with it. But I think we have the responsibility to unmask the guilty and scream to high heaven. We have every right to know what we are eating.

The government should do something about that. It’s a lot more important than most issues being discussed in the senate these days and it would help reduce obesity or attack it head-on.

A government that would use this as a political argument would get my vote, hands down.

And if you’re not allergic to nitrites, have a real hot-dog. It’s chemical, it’s bad for you but there is a high fun factor. Allow yourself the real splurge. If you still want the natural hot-dogs, if you want your cake and eat-it too, soy dogs are the way to go. They are not evil.

If I’m going to splurge, then it would be a good old fashion Nathan’s Hot-Dog. The next day, get back to home-made foods. And please, let’s ask for more strenuous labelling laws, let’s discuss it regularly. Someone will eventually listen if we are loud enough about it. Write to your congressman, to Maple Leaf, to all the other manufacturers of prepared food and voice your concerns.

ps: I have such delicious road side memories as my family and I were driving through the North East US headed to my beloved Myrtle beach every year. We would have a Nathan’s hot-dog in New-York and grilled apples from Cracker Barrel.

 

This was cooksploratrice being frank about franks.