Berry Pudding Cake

Berry Pudding Cake

Some days, it feels like all I do is get up, go to work, come back, make dinner, watch an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, do the dishes, cuddle on the couch, go to bed. As if in a blink of an eye, the day was gone and another very similar one was about to begin.

Then there are other days when I come back home, more tired. Those days, all I can do is to bake a cake. That’s all I want to do. I want to measure the flour, I want to melt some butter, I want to beat eggs and taste some sugar. I put my apron on, get my measuring cups out of the cupboard and put on some music. Then I get started.

Once in a while Jacob will come around to inspect what I am doing. Very often he will kiss my neck or my shoulder. I always giggle when he does that. He will also try to have a taste of what I am doing; at which point I kick him out of the kitchen. We laugh.

Berry Pudding Cake

This week I decided to try this berry pudding cake recipe I found in an old Chatelaine magazine. I had some berries in the fridge and I thought I would probably love the gooey texture of the cake.

Jacob absolutely loved it. It was sweet, yet the sweetness was mostly from the berries. It tasted a bit like butter (which we love around here) and it was perfect to enjoy late that evening with a cup of tea.

That night I went to bed thinking I was lucky to have found something I loved doing this much. Even if I don’t have time to bake as much as I wish, I should be grateful for the days I do bake. And then I closed my eyes. When I opened them again, it was another day.

Berry Pudding CakeYou will need:

The cake:
2 tablespoons of butter (room temperature)
½ cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 ½ cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
A pinch of salt
¾ cup of milk
2 cups of berries (I picked strawberries, raspberries and blueberries)

The sauce:
¼ cup of butter
½ cup of sugar
¼ cup of heavy cream

What to do:
In a bowl, beat the butter with the sugar and vanilla.

In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter and beat well. Add half of the milk. Add more flour, then the rest of the milk. Beat in the rest of the flour.

Delicately incorporate the berries and mix with a spatula.

Pour the batter into a buttered pan and bake at 400F for about 30 minutes. Once out of the oven, poke the cake with a knife several times.

While the cake is baking, bring the butter, sugar and cream to a boil in a pot, over medium heat. Reduce to medium-low and let it simmer 5 minutes.

Pour on top of the cake and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

Enjoy warm.

Raspberry and Cream Frozen Bars

Raspberry & Cream Frozen Bar

Not so long ago, as we were at Jacob’s mom’s, she handed us a piece of a frozen strawberry and cream dessert that she had just made. The recipe, from The Recipe Critic (see the original post here), was absolutely what I needed at that time: something cool, fresh, creamy and fruity.

I had almost forgotten about this dessert when last week, as it was getting hotter and hotter in here, I just thought of how amazing it would be to re-do this with seasonal fruits, which at this point are raspberries.

So over all, it is very easy to do. For those of you who, just like me, like to get dressed-up and go out during the day and come back to a sweet treat, I am pretty sure this recipe will do the trick.

I slightly changed the original recipe to which I added some marzipan, added some almonds instead of pecans and used raspberries instead of strawberries. But over all, it is a great dessert from The Recipe Critic that I am happy to share :

Raspberry & Cream Frozen Bar

You will need:
4 graham crackers sheets
½ cup of sliced almonds
150 ml of melted butter
90 grams of grated marzipan
1 cup of flour
1/3 cup of brown sugar
2 egg whites
½ cup of sugar
1 cup of 35% cream
1 lemon
4 ounces of cream cheese
2 cups of raspberries

What to do:
In a food processor, ground the graham crackers with the almonds. Add the butter and mix well. Add the marzipan, flour and brown sugar and mix until you get crumbles.

Spread the crumble on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring many times. Transfer in a bowl and let it cool.

In a bowl, whisk the egg white until they start to from soft peeks. Gradually add the sugar until the peeks are a little firmer (do not over whisk your egg white).

Still with the whisk, slowly add the cream and mix on medium speed for about 5 minutes.

Add the juice of the lemon and the cream cheese and mix on medium speed until it is blended.

With a spatula, add the raspberries.

In a rectangular buttered pan, spread half the crumble. Pour the raspberry mixture on top, and then add the rest of the crumble.

Freeze for about 4 hours. When ready to serve, take the pan out of the freezer for about 10 minutes.

Cut in bars, and enjoy!

Raspberry & Cream Frozen Bar


A couple of days in Prince Edward County

Grape Vines in Prince Edward County

I think it’s safe to say that I love food, I love learning how it is locally produced and I also love a glass of wine at night.

Even if I keep track of what I like and what to avoid, I am not a connoisseur when it comes to wine. I am what you can call a “regular Joe”, who loves trying new flavours and imagining the work behind the wine, its story. Do I taste wood or apple? Is it smoky or nutty? I also wonder what the wine makers were hoping to achieve with it?

Last week, Jacob and I decided to go camping — 3 nights in Bon Echo Provincial Park, 2 nights in Prince Edward County. Neither of us had ever visited a winery. I was far from imagining that I would totally fall in love, not only with the region but with the people I would meet.

The morning
I woke up early that morning, excited to hit the road and make the best out of this day. I pushed Jacob out of bed, had a quick bite at the hotel and off we went. We took the Loyalist Parkway out of Trenton and cruised our way to Picton, stopping many times on the way there to take pictures of the beautiful landscape. We then went to a photography exhibition, grabbed a coffee and walked a bit around Main Street. By the time it was noon we were on our way to our first winery.

Waupoos Winery

As we stepped out of the car, still trying to take in all the beauty surrounding us, we started talking with a couple of local residents who gave us some suggestions as to where to have lunch, where to make reservations for dinner, which wineries we should absolutely see, and what was the best wine in their opinion. Again, we ended up with more possibilities than we had time on our hands. We thanked the nice couple, promising to visit their son’s restaurant in Ottawa, Wellington Gastro Pub.

By Chadsey’s Cairns Winery
From the parking lot, all we could see was a barn surrounded by grape vines. As we followed the dirt path leading to a barn, we couldn’t help noticing the peacefulness of the land and how crisp the air was. We made our way to a cozy apple house built in the 1850’s where we would do our first wine tasting ever in a winery.

By Chadsey's Winery - Prince Edward County

The vineyard, now for sale, belongs to Richard and his wife Vida and is located near Lake Ontario. I would learn through some research that the winery was named after an early settler, Ira Chadsey. Ira, over 200 years ago, built stone cairns on the property to guide him home when he would return in the afterlife as a white horse.

The natural light in the apple house made us feel welcomed right away, as if we entered a charming brick house that had been built just to welcome guests. Jacob and I tasted their rosé and their Riesling, looking for a light wine to enjoy on a hot summer day back at home. The Riesling did the trick right away. It was crisp with some notes of apple and wood.

Tasting room By Chadsey's Winery

By Chadsey’s Cairn is also known for making Chardonnay, Muscat, Chenin Blanc and Gewürztraminer. We would learn on our journey through the County that Chardonnay and Riesling are grapes that grow easily in the region, hence the reason why so many wineries choose to grow it and successfully transform it into a memorable wine.

As we walked the way back to the car through the dirt path, I couldn’t help but wish every visit would be longer.

By Chadsey's Winery, Prince Edward County, Ontario

Sandbanks Estate Winery
The next winery on our list was bigger than what we would see in the county in general over the next day. Also located close to Lake Ontario, Sandbanks Estate Winery’s owner and winemaker, Catherine Langlois, grew quite a reputation over the past 12 years. With many of Sandbanks wines available at the LCBO, they also won several awards for their products.

Sandbanks Winery, Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada

We did a quick visit inside and then made our way to their beautiful gazebo to taste those wines. We started with their Riesling, which was sweet and easy to drink, and then had a couple of other tastes of their white wines. I believe their Shoreline was my favourite. Easy on the taste, with a spicy finish.

Sandbanks Winery, Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada

We tasted their rosé and slowly made it to their red wines. I have to say some of their red wines were impressive. I am thinking of the Mouton Noir and the Baco which both had strong oak finishes. We bought a bottle of Mouton Noir for a friend who absolutely loves and understands wine. We also picked up 2 t-shirts of their Monton Noir – they are kind of cool!

Sandbanks Winery, Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada

Norman Hardie Winery & Vineyard
At this point of the trip, we were very excited not only to visit Norman Hardie Winery but to try one of his pizzas. Locals had told us his wine was the best in the County and that the pizzas were to die for.

The road leading up to the winery was beautiful and the more we drove, the more we could see the barn. Stepping foot inside, it was refreshing to see so much simplicity, yet so much attention to detail. Jacob held my hand as we climbed the wooden stairs and made it to a simple bar. Some food was for sale, a couple of pictures were on the wall, a magazine was opened at the page where Norman Hardie was interviewed.

Norman Hardie Winery

There is a reason this winery is so successful, we would learn. Norman Hardie’s experience in winemaking speaks for itself: he worked on wineries in Burgundy, Oregon, California, New Zealand and South Africa before coming here. His wines have gained international notoriety and are being sold in restaurants across Canada, Japan, New York, Hong Kong, Denmark and the United Kingdom.

We did a tasting of 3 of his wines and decided to buy their County Chardonnay. We would later be told that that specific wine “is what Prince Edward County tastes like.”

As we made our way downstairs to the patio overlooking the vines, I recognized Norman Hardie talking with some people. As we passed next to him, we took the time to introduce ourselves and tell him how much we liked his wine. He would later come by our table and chat with us about the work on the winery.

Norman Hardie Winery

The pizza was delicious, made in a traditional stone outdoor wood oven. The Chef, David, would later take the time to talk with us about the business and his path.

Making pizza at Norman Hardie Winery

The staff was also great. We had such a good time that Jacob and I decided that we would do a full post about our visit to Norman Hardie Winery later this month. We didn’t want to leave. I wish we could have stayed there to learn more from them. But after our pizza and a glass of wine, we said goodbye and promised ourselves to write them a thank you letter.

Hinterland Wine Company
Located in an old Dairy Farm, this winery produces premium sparkling wine. We had the chance to taste four of their wines, three of them made using the charmat method, and one of them the traditional way. We would learn that the charmat method consists of fermenting the wine in large pressurized containers, which is quicker. The traditional way takes longer and consists of fermenting the wine in their bottles. Our visit to this winery was short but it was interesting to see what they could produce.

Grapes on the vine, Waupoos Winery

The first vines of Hinterland were planted in 2005 and after three years, they were able to release their first sparkling wine. We quickly bought a bottle of rosé sparkling wine made from the traditional method, and hit the road. With only two hours left, we still had 2 wineries on our list to visit.

The Grange of Prince Edward
The first glance at this winery took my breath away; it is truly spectacular. The owner, Caroline Granger, grows seven varieties of grapes on her 60 acre vineyard and takes real pride in her products. While some of her wines can be purchased at the LCBO, she produces wines in three lines that each have their own specialty.

The Grange Winery

The Single Vineyard Line was created for wine collectors and connoisseurs and are made in small batches, making them even more precious. The Select Line was designed for restaurants and are food friendly. The last line, the Estate Line, is more accessible and easy to pair with food or to enjoy on its own. We ended up buying a 2011 Fume Blanc from the Single Vineyard Lane.

Waupoos Estates Winery
From The Grange, I took the wheel to drive to the other side of the County to visit the oldest winery. Waupoos first planted vines in Prince Edward County in 1993. Eight years later, they would officially open their doors as a winery.

Waupoos Winery

Once we passed Picton, I took Route 8. Jacob had fallen into a light sleep as I was driving our car through this wonderful piece of Ontario countryside. We arrived at 5:50 p.m., which is ten minutes before their closing time. Once again, I was speechless in front of so much care, so much attention, so much dedication.

We would come back the next day for lunch with Jacob’s mother and grandmother and would enjoy a perfect day. We would also end-up buying their last bottle of 2011 Riesling, which was the perfect drink to enjoy while writing this post. We also bought some homemade chocolate and a bottle of 2012 Geisenheim. If I ever have something big to celebrate, I think I would go back to Waupoos. There is something magical and unique about it. I guess you have to see it to believe it.

Wineries in Prince Edward County - 2014

We will be back
As we drove back home the next evening, I felt very lucky we had a chance to meet so many people who actually made a difference in the way I see wine and agriculture around here. We truly can be proud of their products and we should share them with the people around us. I know I will be back there soon to visit more wineries and will always be proud to serve our Ontario wines at a our dinner table.

Raspberry Pancakes

Raspberry Pancakes for Sugar Coated

I haven’t been blogging a lot since summer has arrived. I have to admit that every second I am not working I try to spend it outside; walk in the park, take a drive, camping, vacations at home in New Brunswick (see Jacob’s pictures of our trip over there on HIS BLOG).

However, over the past 3 days, we have decided to spend some time around Ottawa, Jacob making videos with our friend Todd, working towards what could become a very cool business in Ottawa. As for myself, I managed to do some writing, something I have been scared to do since I got my first manuscript rejected from every French publishing company I had sent it to about 4 years ago.

So over all, it has been a productive 4-day weekend for us. As I woke up this morning rested and grateful for what life has handed to us recently – good and faithful friends, happiness, some insight as to what we really want to do with our lives – I decided to bake some raspberry pancakes.

Raspberry Pancakes for Sugar Coated

It is absolutely possible to make them without the raspberries. Actually, Jacob prefers them plain and I do enjoy them quite a lot. But I am also a huge sucker for fruit so as I was dancing and singing to the Walk off the Earth album I baked these with LOTS of love and berries! I hope you will enjoy them just as much if you decide to make them.

Cheers, and don’t forget to pour some maple syrup on top of it all!

You will need:
2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
A pinch of salt
2 1/3 cups of milk
2 eggs
2 cups of chopped raspberries
Maple syrup
Vegetable oil – to cook

What to do:
To make the coulis, purée 1 cup of raspberries. Add about 2 to 3 tablespoons of maple syrup. Strain to get rid of the seeds. Set aside.

In a big bowl, mix the flour with the sugar, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, beat the eggs with the milk. Pour on top of the dry ingredients and whisk well.

Add ½ cup of chopped raspberries to the batter and mix gently.

Add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil and cook the batter in small batches. I manage to do about 3 pancakes in a pan per batch. Keep warm until they are all ready, cover with raspberry coulis and then enjoy!

White Chocolate and Cherry Ice Cream


White chocolate and cherry ice cream

People who spend time around me can notice two things pretty quickly about my personality. First: that I am slightly ADD – meaning I always need to have a project and do something productive. It has turned into a joke with Jacob; he calls it my “inability to relax” unless I am completely disconnected from everything else. I blame my dad for this one – like father like daughter. Second: that I am highly addicted to ice cream.

There is a reason why I do not buy ice cream. It is because as long as I have some in the freezer, I will serve myself 2 to 3 portions a day without any guilt or second thoughts. I love it! So to keep my sugar and dairy intake to a reasonable level, I allow myself ice cream every 3 days or so. Jacob will “bug” me to go to Dairy Queen – yes that is the closest ice cream place in our area – where I will get a small dip cone and Jacob will get a Blizzard that we will then eat under the trees of the parking lot (very romantic!) or in the car with the windows down in the parking lot (less romantic!).

I came to love this summer tradition of ours. For us, it is the perfect date.

Cherry Ice Cream

When I really do feel like real homemade-ice cream, I go to La Cigale in Chelsea, on the Quebec side. Everything there is made from scratch, from ice cream to waffle-cones to dipping sauces. The store is located in a lovely renovated old house and the backyard has been done up so that people can sit in big chairs and enjoy their treats. For Jacob and I, who think a parking lot is romantic, this is the Cadillac of date spots!

This is where I tasted, for the first time, real white chocolate and cherry ice cream. Since that day, all I wanted to do was recreate it in my kitchen. I won’t say I have achieved this goal, but I came up with a pretty good recipe that I would like to share on the blog today. I hope you will enjoy it just as much as we do.

You will need:
300 ml of milk
½ vanilla pod
1/3 cup of sugar
4 egg yolks
200 grams of white chocolate, chopped
200 ml of cream
1 cup of fresh cherries, cut into small pieces

What to do:
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar.

In a pot over low heat, stir the milk and the inside of ½ a vanilla pod until the milk is warm – do not boil.

Pour about a tablespoon of the hot milk into the eggs and sugar and mix well. Slowly add more milk while stirring constantly.

Once all the milk is in the bowl, pour back the mix into the pot and put on medium-low heat until it thickens. Add the white chocolate and stir until it is all melted. Transfer into a bowl.

Put plastic wrap directly on top of the liquid and put in the fridge until it is completely cool (about 2 hours).

Take the bowl out of the fridge and add the cream and the cherries. Once everything is mixed properly, pour into your ice cream machine for about 20 minutes and then enjoy!

Cherry Ice Cream

Lobster Étoufée – Camping Style

Camping Lobster Etouffee

A couple of weeks ago Jacob asked me to go backcountry camping in Bon Echo Provincial Park with our friend Todd and his friend Chuck, that we had never met. As the only lady on the trip, I took my role pretty seriously, making sure we packed enough food to survive 3 days as we headed into the wild.

The evening before we left, as I was running around getting nuts and cranberry juice (I sometimes have problems focusing on what is essential and what is not), Todd sent out a Tweet.

Picture 1

I tweeted back, very impressed but wondered how the hell this guy was planning to make some lobster on a camp fire. After all, we were going into the wild! We would be at least 30 minutes from the closest store, this was serious commitment from Chuck (I love being dramatic). My expectations were high!

The moment I was introduced to Chuck, I liked him. I quickly learned he was from Dieppe, in New Brunswick – I spent 5 years living in Moncton so we had plenty to talk about. As he was unpacking his gear and his food, I shortly realised the guy was serious about cooking and that my steaks with store bought BBQ sauce and my sliced small potatoes were going to be lame when sided with HIS elaborate meal. Damn you Chuck!

Camping Lobster Etouffee

The surf portion of this surf and turf meal was called Lobster Étouffée. As Chuck was stirring the base for his sauce, the roux, I sat down with him and realised he actually was into cooking – like for real! And by the smell alone of his sauce, it was easy to tell he was excellent at it.

Camping Lobster Etouffee

Asking about how he developed this recipe, Chuck told me it came from a trip he had done some time ago. “I was on my way to Louisiana in the coming months for vacation and I wanted to search for a local recipe to try replicating – and eventually to compare with – once I was there,” he said.

“I’m pleased to say that I actually preferred my own take on this one but to be fair, they typically use crayfish in the south rather than lobster.” As he was explaining all this and that Jacob was taking pictures and Todd was cutting some branches to start a fire (dangerous task for Todd we would soon learn), Chuck realised he had burned the bottom of his sauce. He barely grumbled, threw out his sauce, washed his pan and started again from scratch. That was real dedication, right there and then!

Camping Lobster Etouffee

So he started again, and we ended up enjoying a meal I would have paid a lot to have in the city. It was the perfectly balanced dish – spicy, flavourful, the texture was perfect and the lobster was so good! It was cooked with frozen lobster Chuck had brought back from Shédiac, New Brunswick a couple of days before.

Camping Lobster Etouffee

After the trip, as Todd went back home with some cuts, burns, highly reacting to all the mosquito bites, and probably some other foreign disease (camping is a dangerous sport for Todd I had learned), I went back home to found an email from Chuck with his recipe. Agreeing to share it on the blog, with Jacob’s pictures, I thought this was the best memory ever from a great adventure into the wild.

At the end of his email, Chuck wrote something I believed would conclude this post pretty well. “I hope you enjoy this recipe again as you did when we were on the camping trip and that others will try it for themselves and enjoy it as well. The most effort required will be to keep a very watchful eye on the roux to ensure it doesn’t burn. Once it has reached the right colour, the rest is nearly effortless.”

Thanks Chuck!

Camping Lobster Etouffee

For more pictures please visit 

Lobster Étouffée 

You will need
1lb of thawed lobster pieces
1 medium-size yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
6-7 stalks of chopped, fresh parsley
3-4 stalks of chopped celery
1 tablespoon of paprika
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper (more or less, as desired)
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of cream

Roux: (oil and flour are a 1:1 ratio)
4-5 tablespoons of peanut oil (or coconut, grape seed, canola)
4-5 tablespoons of flour

What to do:
Begin by adding oil and flour to a saucepan or dutch oven at low-medium heat. Stir the roux constantly for 20 to 30 minutes. The goal is to get the roux to a peanut butter colour without burning. If the roux burns, begin the process again.

Add chopped onion, green pepper and celery. Keep stirring until veggies become somewhat tender (approximately 5 minutes).

If possible, use brine from lobster bag and add in a bit at a time. Ideally, you should have about 1 1/2 cups of liquid. If there isn’t enough lobster brine to reach this amount, clam juice also works great for this recipe.

Add your seasoning: paprika, cayenne, bay leaves, garlic, salt & pepper.

Simmer for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add chopped parsley (save a small amount for final garnish if desired) and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Add lobster, butter and cream, and simmer for final 5 minutes.

Serve with preferred rice, and enjoy!