Maple Walnut Coffee from BLEND and a double Giveaway

I really need to get on a smoothie wagon! I know they are healthy and the rave right now but for some silly reason I forget. No more procrastination, now that I have two amazing books devoted entirely to smoothies which were written by two fabulous fellow food bloggers. They are just delicious whether they are fruit based, surprisingly great veggie based, tea or coffee based, and some that are just a decadent yet healthy dessert.

I will tell you all about these two books shortly and I will share with you the recipe I first sampled. If falls under the coffee category but I would have this for dessert to: the Maple Walnut Coffee. And read all the way to the instructions on how to win the 2 giveaways!

Maple Walnut Coffee 3


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Pan-Roasted Salsify

Thanks for all your good wishes. I am still fighting this cold. Some days I win, some days the cold winds. But it shall pass. Thus I remain a bit quieter still on the blog front.

OK so raise your hands if you have ever tried salsify before? I knew it, only 2 of you know what this root vegetable is, right? The first I ever heard about salsify was the day my mom mentioned them from her childhood and she said they sorta vanished. Of course I made it my mission to buy some if I ever came across a bunch of salsify. And guess what? That day has come. I purchased them on the same occasion that I bought the topinambour (or Jerusalem Artichoke) . And I am keeping the mystery for a third exotic vegetable discovery that day, to be posted soon.

salsify 013

I bet I know what you are thinking: you want me to eat that UGLY thing? Yes I do and trust me you will love it. There are two types of salsify actually: the white salfify and the black salsify. I think you guessed I got the black one. It can also be called black oyster plant, serpent root, viper’s herb, viper’s grass. The black salsify is native to Southern Europe and the Near East. Although the skin is black the inside flesh is a creamy white.

There are a few precautions to know before preparing black salsify. The thick black skin exudes a sticky latex substance when peeled before cooking. Some prefer to boil the salsify first and peel once cooled. And once the salsify is peeled you want to immerse it immediately in water with lemon juice added or the flesh will turn brown very rapidly.

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It’s mystical witchy look of course made people think it was miracle cure against the bubonic plague and snake bites. I am sad to say those claims are both false but it is a wonderfully nutritious root vegetable. It contains potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, and vitamins A, B1, E and C.

The salsify taste is reminiscent of artichoke hearts or a delicate asparagus. Some even say it has a faint taste of oysters but I did not think this to be true. I found a wonderful and simple recipe using the pan roasting method on the Eggs on Sunday blog. Basically you boil the salsify first to cook the vegetable and then you roast in a pan with caramelizes a little bit the exterior and intensifies the flavor.


Pan-Roasted Salsify
Recipe Type: Vegetables & Side Dishes
Author: Amy at Eggs on Sunday
  • 4 large or 8 thin/small salsify roots
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1–2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • A sprinkling of chopped parsley or thyme
  1. Peel the salsify roots and place them in a shallow pan with water to cover, lemon juice, black pepper, bay leaf, and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender (about 20-30 minutes, simmering, based on the thickness of the roots.)
  2. Remove the salsify roots from the liquid and let cool slightly, then cut into small pieces (I cut mine into 2-inch batons.)
  3. Heat some olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat until hot, then add the salsify pieces along with a sprinkle of coarse salt and a grinding or two of fresh black pepper. Cook until golden brown, then toss in the chopped fresh thyme at the end.


salsify 028

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5 Star Makeover: Retro Aspic Green Bean Casserole

I always find it funny when the theme of the 5 Star Makeover is a holiday that I do not celebrate…at least not at the same time. Nor the same way. Of course I am happy to make a special post to my American readers and wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving this coming Thursday November 22nd.

In Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving on the 2nd Monday of October. The holiday is a celebration of the end of the harvest and giving thanks to the past year, just like the US. But since we are a bit more north of the equator our harvest ends sooner…hence the varying dates. On top of that in my province of Quebec it is just not a big holiday. In my family we traditionally close the family cottage for the winter on Canadian Thanksgiving so we have slightly better meal on the BBQ. No turkey, no sweet potatoes and no green beans.

So when the November theme came out, the classic green bean casserole, I was a bit at a loss. I know what is in this dish but I have never eaten it in my life. And my god can it be any more old fashion? Did you know that this dish was first created in 1955 by the Campbell Soup Company? The word retro got stuck in my head as I was trying to come up with a concept for my gourmet rendition. Why not combine it with the next retro popular food fancy dish of the 1950s: the aspic!

Let’s travel back in time as I set on my Thanksgiving table for you a Retro Aspic Green Bean Casserole. The basic ingredients are all here – green beans, mushrooms, cream of mushroom soup, and homemade healthier french fried onions – just under a very unique presentation.


Retro Aspic Green Bean Casserole

Recipe Type: Vegetables & Side Dishes
Cuisine: American
Author: Evelyne Budkewitsch
Serves: 6-8 small portions
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/2 Knox gelatin envelope
  • 1/2 can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 can milk
  • 3/4 pound mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • A big handful of green beans
  • 1/2 tomato, chopped small
  • 1 Knox gelatin envelope
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 3/4 chicken stock
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  1. Bloom the 1/2 envelope of gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. In the mean time warm the soup and milk in a small pot. Add gelatin to soup mix. Bring to a boil and stir until gelatin is dissolved.
  2. Lightly grease a 6 inch round cake pan with olive oil. Pour soup mix into the pan and refrigerate until set, about 2-3 hours.
  3. Slice mushrooms. Heat olive oil in a pan and brown the mushrooms. Set aside.
  4. In a large pot bring to a boil the green beans in water. Simmer 8-10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Cut green beans down to 2 inches. Mix with tomato.
  5. Bloom the 1 envelope of gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. In the mean time bring to a boil the chicken stock. Add gelatin to stock and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Let cool.
  6. Slice onion 1/4 in thick. Mix flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Dip the onion rings in the flour and fry them on medium heat until brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  7. Place the green beans on top of the set soup mix. Layer mushrooms on top of green beans. Just cover veggies with cooled stock and refrigerate until set, about 8 hours to overnight.
  8. To unmold, pass a knife around the perimeter of the mold. Fill a pot with hot tap water. Place aspic mold in the hot water for 10seconds.
  9. Place a plate on top of mold and flip in one quick move. Lift mold gently.
  10. Top with fried onions.


hosted by 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro Cooks!

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Tomato Bloghop: Barbecue Tomatoes Stuffed with Oka

A lovely plump and ripe tomato. Now times that 4 and stuff it with amazing Oka cheese, bacon, onions, bread, eggs and more. Oh so simple and good. A perfect choice for this month Love Bloghop.

Oka cheese is a local cheese in Montreal, originally manufactured by the Trappist monks, who are located in Oka, Quebec, Canada. It is a pressed, semi-soft cheese that is surface ripened for some 30 days. It has a distinctive flavor, very flavorful but not overwhelming. If you do not have any Oka where you love try to match it up with a similar cheese, like Raclette or Emmenthal.

Ξ Barbecue Tomatoes Stuffed with Oka Ξ
original recipe from

2 slices bacon, finely chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
4 medium tomatoes
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 eggs, beaten
1 slice whole wheat bread, diced
1/3 cup 10 % cream
1 cup shredded or diced Canadian Oka, rind removed
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat barbecue (or oven) to 450 °F (230 °C). In a skillet over medium heat, cook bacon with onion until onion is soft. Remove from heat and cool. Cut a ‘hat’ off top and scoop out inside of each tomato. Add remaining ingredients to bacon mixture, combining well, and use to stuff tomatoes. Place ‘hat’ on top of each tomato and barbecue (or bake) for about 10 minutes.

July is #tomatolove month!

Please join in on the #tomatolove fun by linking up any tomato recipe from the month of July 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #tomatolove event! The twitter hashtag is #tomatolove :).

Meet my fellow co-hosts…

Evelyne @ Cheap, Ethnic, Eatz, @cethniceatz
Junia @ Mis Pensamientos, @juniakk
T.R. @ No One Likes Crumbley Cookies, @TRCrumbley
Jess @ Oh Cake, @jesshose
Sheila @ Pippi’s In the Kitchen Again, @shlylais
Helena @ Rico sin Azúcar, @ricosinazucar
Deanna @ Teaspoon of Spice, @tspbasil
Liz @ That Skinny Chick Can Bake!!!, @thatskinnychick
Jackie @ Vegan Yack Attack, @veganyackattack
Suzanne @ You Made That?, @YouMadeThatblog
Cindy @ Vegetarian Mamma, @vegetarianmamma
Elizabeth @ Queen’s Notebook, @Mango_Queen

Want more tomatoes? Check out:

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5 Star Makeover: Raphanus! Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa, battered radish leaves

Well, I guess it had to happen sooner or later. Ladies and Germs: 5 Star Makeovers is at WAR this month. Yes you read me right. We have created our very own friendly competition based on Restaurant Wars, like the popular part of the Top Chef show. Members of this fabulous gourmet group were divided into teams of 3. We had to come up with a restaurant or menu based on an ingredient or concept.

Does life imitate art or art imitate life? Who knows but unfortunately we did loose some teams along the way following incidents. Mine survived without any battle. I am so happy to have worked with my 2 particular team members Faith and Shannon. We all got along fabulously, came to decisions rather fast and we were very encouraging of one another.

My team chose radishes and we announced our menu about a month ago here: Raphanus! Celebrating the Radish. Not one of us were particular fans of this vegetable but we all appreciated the challenge of turning this foe into a shinning star for our dishes. And since that was not tough enough we added another aspect: there must be a citrus vanilla component to our dish. All 3 of us were ready to confront our radish dish with our chef’s sleeves rolled up. Who won? In the end the radish won us all over.

After reading my post please go visit the rest of my team so you can see our complete menu. You will find Shannon’s radish themed appetizer and Faith’s radish themed dessert  by clicking on their respective links. I can’t wait to go check them out. But first let’s take a look at my dish, the main course:

Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa, battered radish leaves.

Say that 3 times fast lol. It’s a mouth full…but a so delicious one. OK so my vanilla component is a vanilla gastrique. I never made one before so this was new. A gastrique is a reduction of a sweet and sour element, usually sugar and vinegar. I added a vanilla bean to mine. This stuff is freaking addictive it’s ridiculous. I used it as part of my Radish salsa vinaigrette.

I more then covered the citrus factor. In total I used satsuma mandarin juice, Yuzu lemon juice, dried orange peel and lime juice. I also wanted to add a little heat to my dish since it has a Tex Mex flair. I chose a Serrano pepper and some habanero infused salt, just a touch.

My radish salsa plays the crowning jewel atop of a fantastic fish tortilla dish. Although I enjoy it I don’t prepare a whole lot of Tex Mex, it’s not part of my culture. And I had never had a fish in a tortilla before, something I had been curious about after seeing such a dish featured on a few blogs. Well it was just fantastic and the sweet tanginess of the radish salsa gave it a perfect flavor kick.

And there is a side dish surprise recipe all the way at the bottom of this post!


Vanilla Gastrique

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Zinfandel vinegar (you can use any vinegar)
1/2 vanilla bean, split length wise

Add all ingredients to a pan and place on medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by 1/3 and is syrupy. Allow to cool and discard bean.

Red and Black Radishes, the Stars of the show


Radish Salsa adapted from Figareau

12 radishes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1 satsuma mandarin (or orange)
1 1/2 tbsp Yuzu lemon juice (or lime)
1 tbsp vanilla gastrique
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Pinch habanero infused salt (or plain salt)
Pepper to taste

Washed, trim and dice finely the radishes. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill for at least an hour before serving.

Ξ Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa Ξ

For the fish

1 1/2 lbs firm white fish (I used Tilapia)
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel
Dash of salt and pepper

Heat grill or oven to 400F. Place fish in an aluminum pan, coat with olive oil, lime juice and spices. Cook about 10 minutes (more or less) until fish comes apart with a fork.




red bean paste
prepared fish
red onions, thinly sliced
sour cream with a touch of lime juice and diced Serrano pepper.
radish salsa

Line plate with tortillas. Spoon a layer of red bean paste. Place fish on top of red beans.
Top fish with red onions, cilantro, sour cream and radish salsa. Makes 4 individual servings or 1 big plate to divide.

WAIT, one more recipe, a SIDE DISH adapted from Kitchen Gossip. Why throw away those lovely radish greens? These fritters are like a cross between hush puppies and an Indian Bahji – unique to say the least.


Ξ Battered radish leaves Ξ

2 cups radish leaves, chopped
3 heaping tbsp cornmeal
2 tbsp rice flour
1 Serrano chili, finely chopped
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Paprika
Salt to taste
Oil to Deep Fry

Mix leaves, flours and spices in a bowl. Add a little bit of water at a time and mix until batter is sticky
Shape into small balls and deep fry in oil at 375F until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels before serving. Enjoy hot or cold.

Don’t forget to go visit Shannon’s radish themed appetizer and Faith’s radish themed dessert  by clicking on their respective links after leaving a comment. Thank you to our amazing organizer who came up with this brilliant concept: Natasha at 5 Star Foodie &  Laz at Lazaro Cooks!

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Introducing Team Radish

I’ve got two special announcements today. First I just got back from the hospital the cast is OFF, freedom and physio therapy ahead. And second, a huge event, as part of the 5 Star Foodie Makeover group!  We have a May Event – Restaurant Wars.

For this event, the group got divided into teams of three.  Each team was responsible for choosing the theme or main ingredient for their restaurant.  Then each member produces an appetizer, main course or dessert.

The first challenge was to decide on a main ingredient with my teammates Faith and Shannon.  We wanted something a little different…  something challenging…  a vegetable none of us like?  Indeed, we’re trying to come around to this root vegetable ourselves :)

Photo from

Radishes are members of the mustard family Brassicaceae, along the likes of broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.  The flesh of radishes is crisp with a peppery flavor.  Some of the more common varieties of radishes include red globe, black, breakfast and daikon.

A favorite of any gardener, radishes are easy to grow and their rapid germination means that radishes will be one of your first harvests!  Radishes are a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper, calcium, potassium, folate and vitamin C.

When buying radishes, choose ones that are firm, unblemished and brightly colored.  It is also good to make sure that the attached greens are nice and healthy as well.  If you aren’t using them right away, cut away the greens and pop the radishes into a jar and cover with water.  They’ll stay nice and crisp in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.

While they’re most often enjoyed raw or pickled, we thought radishes would be a worthy challenge for Restaurant Wars, where they are going to take center stage through a three course meal.  To make things even more interesting, citrus and vanilla will be incorporated into each dish.  Go ahead, have a taste!

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Vacation Eatz:Raleigh Mama Dip’s, Ice Tea, Grits and Turkey Shoot

Welcome to the North Carolina portion of my trip. I visited a friend here for 6 days. If you live in the South of the US you will feel right at home for the next 3 posts. If you come from anywhere else in the world…hold on to your hats and add an extra hole in your belt.

Southern food is by no means a glamorous fare, even if it can be presented that way. We are talking here about good home country cooking. Unfortunately we no longer work in the fields to work off all those calories! Granted my host Rich may have gone the extra mile to really stuff me with Southern food to give the max exposure to it. I did overdose and started to develop a fear of fried foods. My body was screaming for real veggies! But it was a blast.

My no.1 priority was to go to Mama Dip’s which we did on day 1 I think. This restaurant is your best bet as to tasting the local food. And it has a great history. “Mama Dip’s first job was as a family cook in Chapel Hill. She then moved on to work at Carolina Coffee Shop, Kappa Sigma fraternity and St. Andrews Hall. In 1957 she worked with her mother-in-law in a tiny take-out restaurant where she began to hone her business skills. On a Sunday in November 1976 Mama Dip opened her own restaurant with $64, $40 dollars went toward food and $24 was used to make change. The morning’s take was used to fund the lunch meal and lunch to fund the dinner. At the end of the day Mama Dip took home $135, and the rest is history”.

I ordered Fried Green Tomatoes because, well, never had them and its a movie about female angst lol. They were bland. Rich got the smothered pork chops with greens and green beans, he was very happy with his selection. I got a combo plate of Chopped BBQ Pork and Fried chicken with the mashed potatoes and black eyed peas. Sides, pork was pretty good, butt he chicken ruled. The batter used is remarkably light and fluffy, I loved it. I got to say everything had a bit of a blandness to it but this was a bit of a theme in the whole 6 days. I am so used to cooking with lots of herbs and spices, they don’t apparently. For me it made a big difference. That said I loved Mama Dip’s even if I found it bland a bit. Great adorable place and the sweetest most attentive waiter. We ate outside on the wrap around porch which give to a relatively quiet and almost residential street. Fabulous! If you go to Raleigh RUN to Mama Dip’s.

Corn bread and biscuits galore everywhere. Love that! It seems that what I consider a vegetable list and what the South considers a vegetable list is 2 different worlds. This list below may not be the best example as it has the most actual veggie choice of all side dish list I saw. But sorry…beans, black eyed peas, potatoes, yams, macaroni, firs, rice are not vegetables body absorption wise! They all taste GREAT…but it ain’t veggies people! Greens, collar or otherwise, are not my top choice, but are a real vegetable. Sorry but this was my pet peeve with my host – the veggie thing.

And of course I got an ice tea. I have always been a fan of ice tea and the South serves ice tea everywhere. Thank god though you can get it unsweetened. Lord some places has so much sugar in it a diabetic would go into hyperglycemia shock in 2 seconds flat! I don’t put sugar in my coffee or tea. I make my ice tea normally with a dash of lemon juice and maybe 1tsp of sugar per glass. If you like sweet but not that sweet you can ask for half-half. Drank lots of ice tea with the heat.

Remember last week I promised you a story about that all natural syrup where Rich freaked out? Well i will tell you that story here. On this trip I only had grits once at a breakfast plate. I am very mystified by grits. Polenta I get, cream of wheat I get, grist I don’t. And I know I am not alone. That is why there will be an in depth study future post on grits. Anyways we are having breakfast and I got grits with it. It was 100% unseasoned and bleh. I added a bit of salt and that helped, but not much. I could not help feel how close to cream of wheat it was, something I used to eat for breakfast. And I always sweetened it a bit. So in my logic I took the bottle of syrup and added a bit to the grits. This is when friend literally FLIPPED OUT on me and looked around in shame to make sure no fellow Southerner should have witnessed my sacrilegious action! I was baffled but very amused by it though. He was so embarrassed to be seen with me for that moment l0l. I am assuming some of you reading are nodding in a agreement with him. But once the shock subsided (about 10 min) he reluctantly took a mini forkful of it saying he had to taste my abomination and in a very low voice filled with resentment said” its not bad but I will never admit it publicly” Pfft I say! It was awesome with syrup.

After lunch we went to A Southern Season. I had been there in January and adored this foodie heaven. Got myself a few things here like local cheddar cheese, salt water taffy, pecans, moonshine cordial chocolates. Also got stuff I regretted not buying the last time: a mango coconut sauce and banana ketchup. They are from Costa Rica! This place also has an awesome selection herbs and spices cheap, in cylinder plastic tubes. Got a mole rub and two other I was clueless too: Annato seeds and Epazote. I love getting unknown stuff and then researching it at home only.

Wow this is a huge post. OK finishing it off with a couple of pics from July 4th. This was museum day but we walked right by the State Capitol building where lots of celebration stuff was going on. That night we went to the State Fair Grounds to see the fire works. Wow there were a gazillion food vendors with enormous lines. All we got was a orange-aid. There was one thing that caught my eye: the Turkey Shoot. I am sure you are thinking the same question I did: do they shoot real turkeys? I asked my friend knowing how stupid it probably sounded out loud. Thing is he is excellent at keeping a straight face when responding so sometimes I never can quite tell if it is a joke or not..even if what he says makes no sense. It drives me NUTS  and he knows it and relishes those moments. GRRR!

So in the end no turkeys were being shot at…tree trunks were.  But I did my research! The term comes from the 1800s where REAL turkeys were tied down and shot at 25 to 15 yards away. If a bird was killed it WAS given to the shooter as a prize. years later an inanimate target was used and a frozen turkey was given to the best shooter. I am so quoting wiki on this one (inside joke): today, turkey shoots are still popular in rural America, where citizens are all likely to be familiar with shotguns. The prize was a T-shirt.

Just 2 more posts coming about my trip…then back to blog reality! Tune in:

Saturday…..Vacation Eatz: South Fast Food
Sunday…….Vacation Eatz: Sanitary Beach

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