Québec City

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The heart of Québec City is Vieux-Québec (the Old City). It’s divided between Haute-Ville (Upper Town) and Basse-Ville (Lower Town). The former is home to a lot of the city’s most famous sites—like the majestic Château Frontenac, Terrasse Dufferrin (Boardwalk) and more—while the latter, once home to dilapidated warehouses, is now filled with boutique hotels, trendy shops, attractive bistros and chic art galleries. What’s nice is that Lower Town, with its narrow cobbled-stone streets and old buildings, still maintains the original architectural feel.

The historical heart of the Old City is Place Royale. It’s not only the birthplace of French civilization in North America, but also one of the continent’s oldest settlements. Dominating the plaza is the oldest church in Québec, Notre Dame Des Victoires. If you take a peek inside you’ll see a small boat suspended from the ceiling. An explanation inside the church explains. In Place Royale you can also see an immense tromp-l’oeil mural of people—historic figures, and nearly a dozen of Québec’s leading artists and writers—from the early city.

Steeped in four centuries of French, English and Canadian history and tradition, fortress walls still encase part of this beautiful historic city and UNESCO World Heritage site. Small, dense and well maintained, the Old City is as romantic as any coastal town in Europe.

Wall

As the soul of New France, Québec is almost entirely French in feeling, spirit and language. Many of the chairs along the rue de Petit-Champlain (the oldest street in the city) are styled after those of famous cafés in Paris. Although the majority of the population is French speaking, many of the residents know some English, especially those working in restaurants, hotels and shops. However, knowing some French before visiting is very helpful.VendomeYou can spend an entire visit of the Old City on foot, walking from one Town to the other. L’Escalier du Casse-Cou (Breakneck Steps) or a ride on the funiculaire (the only one of its kind in Canada) connect the two.

My first visit to Québec was a little over four years ago, just before I married my husband, a Québécois. Despite my extensive travel around the world, I surprisingly never had visited Québec and had no idea of the jewel that was in my backyard, so to speak. We got married here, I’ll tell you more about it in another post, but for now I want to tell you about an entire city, slightly beyond the Old City, that many visitors never explore. My husband, a former guide (during his university days), showed me a few jewels of the city that I might never have explored on my own.

Outside the Walls
Slightly beyond the Old City, there’s quite a bit to experience and all you need is just half a day to see it. For example, there’s St. Roch, the funky former industrial area that’s becoming known for its restaurants, great shopping and artistic edge.

Avenue Cartier, the Grand Allée (one of the city’s oldest streets), and rue St. Jean all have restaurants and shops well worth visiting. These areas bustle with trendy restaurants, eclectic boutiques, unique cafés, bibliothèques (libraries), churches, and interesting épiceries (grocery stores)—like Épicerie J.A. Moisan—that tend to attract more of the locals than tourists.

Colorful and bohemian in appearance and vibe, it’s hard to miss the buzz along rue Saint-Jean. This friendly and up and coming chic neighborhood is a great place to shop, hang out, eat, people watch, or go for a stroll.

Rue St. Jean is also home to Choco Musée Érico, an old timey shop that sells gourmet chocolates and has a small room with historical information about how chocolate is made.  

Choco Musée

We stopped at a great little Bistro, Le Hobbit, for lunch. I loved the ambiance—exposed stone and brick walls, charming old French music (I think we heard Aznavour singing) in the background, and large windows overlooking the bustling rue St. Jean. The atmosphere was warm and cozy, the service was excellent, and the food we ordered was perfect for a light lunch.

Le Hobbit Windows

We ordered a salade champêtre (country salad), a beet salad and poutine, a popular Canadian dish that originated in Québec. More on poutine and Québec City to come. Until then, have you been to Québec City or have you tried the very popular poutine??!

 

L’Épicerie J.A. Moisan: A Historic Jewel of Québec City

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J.A. Moisan

In my last edition of Petit World, many of you guessed correctly that I’m visiting Québec City, one of  oldest and most picturesque settlements in North America. It’s certainly one of the most beautiful and historic cities I’ve ever visited.

Wandering the streets of Vieux-Québec (Old City) is like exploring a provincial capital in Europe—a pleasurable experience that I can only describe as having an old world European feel. Narrow cobblestone streets, 17th and 18th century churches and houses, and the magnificent Château Frontenac (the visual heart of the city) soaring above it all. Every turn of a street corner is like a voyage of discovery through the rich history of an extraordinary city. It’s no wonder why Charles Dickens described the city as having “splendid views at every turn.”

Front

There’s so much about the city that I’d like to share with you, but before I delve into Québec’s more popular monuments and old buildings, I want to tell you about one of its perhaps lesser known jewels, an épicerie (grocery store) dating back to 1871.

Épicerie J.A. Moisan is said to be the oldest grocery store in North America. Recalling the old general store feel, tin ceilings, charming wood décor, antiques scattered about, and traditional music from the 1920’s and 1930’s add to its warm atmosphere. One step inside takes you on a nostalgic trip back in time.

Cashier

Moisan

I was so impressed with its expansive selection—fresh fruits and vegetables; international fine foods; and cheeses and preserves made in Québec. Épicerie J.A. Moisan is truly one-of-a-kind. I went in just to have a peek and an hour and twenty minutes later…ahem…I walked out with a few bags.

Moisan

Moisan

Located on rue St. Jean, just four blocks outside the Old City walls, this épicerie is a true food emporium and special place to visit. They also have a little café to grab a bite to eat.

Stay tuned. More on Rue St. Jean and the beauties of Québec City to come!

Petit World: What City is This?

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I’m on the move again. This time to one of the most romantic cities in the world. Walking down cobblestone streets and stopping in small shops that sell everything from antiques and art to artisanal cheese and pastries, this romantic city seduces from first view. Petit WorldHint: Filled with European sensibility and old world charm, fortress walls still encase a portion of the city and a hotel with castlelike turrets dominates the landscape. If you know where this is and/or have visited, I’d love to read your comments below!

Rustic Simplicity: Black Raspberry and Blueberry Galette

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I prefer to live simply, creating more space for peace and balance, but that’s not always easy. So every so often I make sort of an assessment of my possessions. Lately, I’ve been de-cluttering—clearing out storage units and closets and analyzing the value of things I own, asking myself questions like, “do I really need to hold onto this?” or more specifically, “will holding on to this continue to provide beauty, joy, or functional value in my life?” I long to live lighter, in a warm, simple and rustic sort of way. I’ve gone through quite a few of my spaces—drawers, cabinets, closets, bookshelves, but I still have more to do. My kitchen cupboards, for example….

Mixed Berry Galette

My kitchen cupboards are packed—filled with a large variety of whole and ancient grains, noodles, legumes, beans, flours, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, oils, vinegars, and spices. My husband jokes that I’m equipped for almost every culinary situation imaginable. Although I love having on hand an array of interesting ingredients, often adding color, texture, personality, flavor and that attractive je ne sais quoi to many of my culinary adventures, the reality is that I just don’t have the space.

Black Raspberries

I can almost never resist buying new (to me) ingredients that I come across at the market. Hmm, sorghum, teff, kamut flour…I wonder what delicious dishes can be made with those! Japanese Hato Mugi? Bolivian Canahua? No idea how I’d use them, but much too interesting to pass! As a result, my small kitchen cupboards are not just packed, they’re over packed and cluttered.

So, for the next few months I’ll be cooking through my cupboards, so to speak, using much of what I already have before buying new dry goods. Hopefully this will not only clear clutter and help bring balance to my kitchen cupboards again, but also to my sense of well-being. It will also motivate me to cook a lot of interesting things. I’ll be sure to share any of my favorites with you.

Do you ever feel the need to de-clutter, get rid of stuff, and live more simply? How do you keep your life and home balanced?

One form of rustic simplicity is by way of this fruit galette, a beautifully uncomplicated and charming summer dessert. Galettes are so simple to make that I wonder why I don’t make them more often. Here, homemade pastry crust folds around two types of berries—black raspberry and blueberry—making a beautiful deep purple tart. Really, almost any summer berry or fruit would yield equally delicious results. Enjoy!

Mixed Berry Galette

Black Raspberry and Blueberry Galette
Serves 6-8

Galette Pastry (recipe below)
1.5 cups black raspberries
1.5 cups blueberries
1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons white whole wheat flour
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tsp water (optional)
2-3 tablespoons turbinado sugar (optional)

Galette Pastry
Recipe adapted from Anna Thomas’s recipe for galette pastry.

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1.5 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons coconut oil, separated
2/3 cup Neufchâtel (reduced-fat cream cheese), cut into pieces
2 tablespoons cold plant milk (I used hemp milk)

Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, leon zest and salt in a food processor. Pulse to mix. Add 3 tablespoons coconut oil and cream cheese and pulse until the mix looks like coarse meal. Add the rest of the coconut oil and pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand. Add milk and pulse until small clumps form.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment paper and press into a ball, then press the ball into  a round disk about 8-inches wide. Wrap in the parchment and refrigerate at least an hour and up to a day before rolling out.

To Prepare Mixed Berry Galette
Prepare Galette Pastry.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. After dough has chilled at least an hour, roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface (preferably parchment paper) into a round about 12 inches wide.

In a bowl, combine berries, lemon juice, sugar and flour. Spoon filling into prepared dough, leaving a 2-inch uncovered border. Fold the edge up and over the filling, forming loose pleats. Brush the border with the egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar if you like.

Transfer galette, with parchment paper, onto a baking sheet. Bake until berry filling bubbles and the pastry is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve alone, with ice cream or a dairy free alternatives. Here I served mine with coconut milk ice cream.

Japchae

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I just came back from a lovely weekend in Bethany Beach, Delaware. My sister and her family are vacationing there for the week and we just went up for the weekend. It was so nice to have the opportunity for our little ones, all under the age of five, to play together. The weekend was filled with lots of giggles, little voices, the pitter patter of tiny feet, and the best part—sweet hugs and kisses. Japchae1

Before leaving I wanted to share another of my favorite Korean dishes, but just didn’t have the time. Besides Dolsot Bibimbap, another dish I learned to love while living in South Korea is vegetarian Japchae (also known as Chapchae)—a classic Korean stir-fry noodle dish with vegetables.

Nicknamed “glass noodles”, these sweet vermicelli noodles (made of white sweet potato starch) are gray-ish when raw and turn almost translucent and chewy when cooked. Easy to prepare and tasty to eat, Japchae is considered a perfect Korean dish to serve at big parties. I remember finding enormous bowls of japchae at many Korean celebrations. Although japchae is traditionally made for large gatherings and special occasions, it can also be used as a side dish or an appetizer for a simple or elaborate lunch or dinner. As japchae is delicious, hot or at room temperature, I love making it in the summertime.
Vegetarian Japchae
Serves about 6 

12 ounces Korean potato starch noodles
4 cups shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced
2 carrots, julienned
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
5 cups spinach
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
4 green onions, sliced
roasted sesame seeds, for garnish
salt and freshly ground pepper

Seasoning Sauce
1/2 cup soy-sauce (I used reduced sodium organic Tamari, gluten free soy sauce)
1 tablespoon mirin
¼ cup sesame oil
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3-4 teaspoons garlic chopped
2 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds
black pepper

Make the sauce, combining all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the potato starch noodles and cook for 6-8 minutes or until soft and fully cooked. Drain the noodles and rinse in cold water. Drain excess water and place in a large bowl. Using kitchen scissors, randomly cut the noodles just a few times as they are quite long. Don’t over-cut them. Mix noodles with ¼ cup of the sauce. Set aside.

Sauté mushrooms in a little olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Repeat same process with the carrots, bell pepper and onion.

Bring another large pot of salted water to boil. Blanch spinach leaves just until wilted, about 15-20 seconds. Remove from pot, squeeze out excess water and place in a bowl. Toss with about 1 teaspoon sesame oil, a little garlic, and pinch of salt and pepper.

Combine cooked mushrooms, carrots, bell pepper, onions, and spinach with noodles. Add another ½ cup of the sauce and sesame seeds to the noodle mixture and mix well.Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more sauce if necessary. Add green onions. Garnish with sesame seeds. Serve at room temperature or, if you would like to serve hot, return mix to heat and sauté noodle mixture until heated, about 3-4 minutes.

Notes: Like bibimbap, japchae is quite versatile. You can add tofu and other vegetables. To add tofu, you can follow the recipe for the marinated tofu I often use to make dolsot bibimbap. Feel free to season your japchae according to your preference, adding more soy sauce and/or sesame oil to suit your taste. Have fun with it and enjoy!

Soba Noodles with Tofu in Spicy Garlic Sauce and Avocado

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If at any given time of the day you ask my little one what he wants to eat, he will ask for ayocayo (avocado) and mayo (tomato). Avocado was his first taste of solid food and he’s loved the smooth and creamy flesh of avocados ever since that first spoonful. He eats about one avocado a day, with anything. My husband and I also love avocados so I try to add it in just about everything—even breakfast cereal. I’ll save that for another post….

After I recently posted my recipe for Dolsot Bibimbap, a friend of mine said she tried making it at home. I was excited to get her feedback in an email that read, “HIT!! HIT!! HIT!!” The bibimbap was a hit with her family, and her husband (who is not a vegetarian) said, “I prefer eating this kind of vegetarian!” Her email made my day! For the tofu in her bibimbap, she followed a recipe for spicy tofu that I had shared with her years ago. The flavor combination was wonderful. I often make variations of tofu dishes as my go-to when making dinner so I thought I’d finally share one of my favorite tofu and soba noodle dishes with you.

buckwheat

I can eat soba noodles almost everyday of the week. I’m happy to toss a bundle of soba noodles with a bit of sesame oil and soy sauce and call it a meal. When I want to get a little more fancy and the dish more colorful and hearty, I top it with spicy tofu and a few other things like tomatoes, avocados and roasted seaweed. Yum! Soba noodles can be eaten cold or at room temperature so they’re great for those lazy days of summer when you need to cook something quick and easy. I always have a package or two of dry soba noodles on hand in my pantry.

w:avo

Although soba noodles are made of buckwheat, which is gluten-free, many packages of soba noodles contain wheat flour. If you’re on a gluten-free diet, try to find soba noodles that do not contain wheat. I understand they exist. You may have to search for them in a specialty market or online.

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Soba Noodles with Tofu in Spicy Garlic Sauce and Avocado
Serves 4

10-12 ounces dried soba noodles
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
sesame seeds
Tofu in Spicy Garlic Sauce (recipe below)
2 avocados, cut in half-inch chunks
1 tomato, diced
1 scallion, sliced, for garnish
1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds, for garnish
1 sheet roasted seaweed, for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add soba noodles and cook until al dente, about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl. Toss with sesame oil and soy sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning. Toss with sesame seeds. Transfer to individual serving bowls or one large serving bowl. Top noodles with spicy tofu, followed by avocados, tomatoes, scallions, and sesame seeds. Using kitchen scissors, cut strips of seaweed on top.

Tofu in Spicy Garlic Sauce
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 packages (14 oz) extra firm tofu, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce (I used low-sodium organic Tamari, gluten-free soy sauce)
1-2 tablespoons chili garlic paste/sauce* (less or more depending on preference)
1 tablespoon fresh jalapeño pepper, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon potato starch (or cornstarch) mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
1 tablespoon orange juice, fresh
4-8 scallions/green onions, sliced (reserve some for garnish)

In a large saucepan sauté ginger and garlic in olive oil, stirring until fragrant. Add tofu and sauté about 10 minutes. Add rest of ingredients, leaving scallions until last. Cook until sauce thickens slightly (just a couple of minutes). Add orange juice and stir. Add scallions, toss and serve over rice, other grains or soba noodles.

Martine’s Notes: In other versions I’ve added sliced mushrooms, broccoli or other vegetables that might add color, flavor or texture. Feel free to scale back or add more chili garlic sauce or jalapeño pepper according to personal preferences. I definitely don’t add the chili sauce when serving to my toddler.

*Chili garlic sauce is available at asian markets or in the international/asian foods aisle at most grocery stores.

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Dolsot Bibimbap

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Once upon a time, I lived in a bucolic city called Chuncheon (choon-chun)….

Nestled in rugged, snow-peaked mountains of South Korea, Chuncheon is about 45 miles northeast of Seoul. It’s considered Korea’s lake country and acts as a haven and perfect getaway for weary city slickers wanting to escape Seoul’s urban jungle. For me, it was a great place to live—mountains, lakes and rivers—the scenery was beautiful.

Living in Korea was so fascinating—the language, the people, the culture, the food, the sites, the smells…were all so captivating. Like a sponge in water I soaked it all in, learning as much as I could during my short year there. I made new friends and learned some Korean while my taste buds were seduced by the country’s vivacious culinary scene. Colorful, spicy and intoxicating, Korean food is an explosion of flavors, textures and heritage. From colorful and aromatic foods sold on the street to world-class cuisine, Korean food is often a feast for the eyes and palate—a dream come true for many foodies.

Cooked veggies

My favorite dish while living in Korea was dolsot bibimbap, South Korea’s quintessential comfort food. Bibimbap is essentially a rainbow of vegetables, protein (meat or tofu) and a dollop of gochujang (spicy red pepper paste) placed on top of a well-made bed of rice. When served in a heated dolsot, a stone bowl, you get crackling rice and a delicious bowl of dolsot bibimbap. Yum!

dolsot bibimbap ns

I think the best kind of bibimbap is dolsot bibimbap. However, although a dolsot certainly makes this dish more interesting to eat, you don’t have to have one to prepare bibmbap. You can simply place all ingredients in a regular bowl.

dolsot

Simple and versatile to make, a variety of vegetables can be used according taste preferences. Keep in mind that what makes this dish so beautiful is the array of colors and textures of vegetables used.

dolsot bibimbap

Dolsot Bibimbap
Serves 4

2 cups short-grain brown rice (other types of rice can also be used, see notes below)
1 (12-14 oz) package extra-firm tofu, cut in ½-inch strips and marinated*
4-5 carrots, julienned
1-2 zucchini, julienned
1-2 daikon radish, julienned
4 cups shiitake mushrooms, fresh, stems removed and caps sliced
4-5 cups spinach, fresh
2 cups bean sprouts
1-4 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing vegetables
2-4 teaspoons garlic, minced
2-4 teaspoons sesame oil
salt
roasted sesame seeds
roasted seaweed, cut in small strips (optional)
gochujang (korean red pepper paste)

Marinade for Tofu
1/3 cup soy-sauce (I used reduced sodium organic Tamari, gluten free soy sauce)
1 tablespoon mirin
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3-4 teaspoons garlic, chopped
1-inch piece of ginger, grated or chopped
1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds

Rinse and cook rice according to package directions.

Rinse and drain tofu. Cut into 1/2-inch thick slices and marinate for at least 20 minutes and up to a few hours. Heat olive oil in a pan and fry tofu, turning once, until golden. Set aside.

Stir-fry the carrots in a little olive oil, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate, set aside and repeat same process with the zucchini, radish and mushrooms.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Blanch spinach leaves just until wilted, about 15 seconds. Remove from pot, drain, place in a bowl and toss with about 1 teaspoon sesame oil, a little garlic, a dash of sesame seeds and pinch of salt and pepper. Repeat same process with the bean sprouts.

Put about 1-2 teaspoons of sesame oil in the base of each stone bowl. Swirl oil (or use a brush) to coat inside of dolsot. Add cooked rice in the bowls and nicely arrange small mounds of tofu and vegetables over the top of rice. Add a teaspoon (or more to taste) of gochujang to the side. Pour 1-3 teaspoons of sesame oil around the inner edge of each bowl.

Place the stone bowls on the stove over high heat for approximately 5 minutes, or until you can hear the rice crackling. Carefully remove the hot bowls from heat. Garnish with roasted sesame seeds and roasted seaweed and serve. Please note the dolsots will be very hot, so be sure to protect your hands and the table (with a trivet).

Before eating, mix well with a large spoon. Each diner can add more sesame oil or gochujang to taste.

Martine’s Notes: For those of you who enjoy spicy foods, another option for cooking the tofu for your bibimbap is trying Tofu in Spicy Garlic Sauce, instead of marinating the tofu in the sauce posted above.

As mentioned above, you do not need a dolsot to make bibimbap. For making bibimbap in a regular bowl, I’d recommend warming all ingredients before placing them in the bowl.

Traditionally dolsot bibimbap is topped with a carefully placed raw egg in the center of the bowl. The heat from the stone bowl cooks the egg. Some prefer to fry the egg in advance or, like me, you can choose to leave it out all together. If making regular bibimbap (without the dolsot) and you include an egg, first fry the egg separately, before adding it to your bowl of bibimbap. Here’s a photo with a pre-cooked egg and one with a raw egg on top.

I’ve made several versions of dolsot bibimbap using different types of rice (brown, red, black, and even green pea rice!). All were delicious. My husband loved the added texture of the peas when I made it with my green pea rice. Again this dish is so easy and fun to make. Be creative and enjoy making it your own!

Dolsots and gochujang can be purchased at a Korean grocery store, or you can purchase them online. I bought my granite dolsots through Amazon here. They came with little wooden trivets to protect the table from hot bowl. Please note I am not affiliated with Amazon or the seller in any way. My dolsots arrived the color of a light grey stone (view the Amazon link). I had to first season them—a process that took several hours—before use and then they turned very dark, almost black, as seen in the photographs above.

Finally, if you can tolerate the “heat”, gochujang is a MUST. The taste is so delicious and unique, no other hot sauce will do. Gochujang really brings this dish together in a spicy and flavorful way. However, if you and/or those you cook for don’t like or have difficulties tolerating spicy foods, you can omit the gochujang and use soy sauce and sesame oil as seasoning sauce instead. It won’t be exactly the same, but will still be delicious.

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Summer Cake

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This ultra-light lemony-basil chiffon cake, paired with lemon mascarpone frosting and fresh berries, will melt in your mouth.

Summer Cake prof We know a blackberry is one thing and a raspberry is another, but who knew there was a whole different type of berry called a black raspberry??? Not me. So when I recently came across black raspberries at my local farmers market, I knew these special berries were coming home with me.

Blackraspberries

The easiest way to tell black raspberries apart from blackberries is by their core. Blackberries have a white core while black raspberries are hollow in the center, similar to their red cousins. Fruity and less tart than blackberries, black raspberries have a unique flavor that’s not really similar to any other berry. We found them to be delicious! My little one actually said, dee-yi-shish after almost every berry he ate. This didn’t surprise me because he loves berries and asks for boo-biz, raz-biz and straw-biz multiple times a day. What did surprise me is just how much he appeared to love black raspberries. These days his berry of choice is very clear, more bak raz-biz pees!

We enjoyed eating them alone and on top of our morning cereal, but I felt the urge to do something more with them. They seemed like little black stars that needed an opportunity to shine a bit, but what to do?

blackraspberries4

A summery, lemony cake or a galette with mixed berries are the two ideas that came to mind. I went with a cake, an anniversary one. You see, last month Petit World Citizen celebrated its first anniversary. Reason to celebrate, non? YES!!!! And a light, almost airy, summery cake topped with fresh flowers and berries–bright and beautiful–is what I envisioned. Lemon and basil were also on my mind so I found a way to bring them all together. I have to say that I was pretty excited at the result. The flavors complemented each other so well!

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This cake is fun and simple to make. The hardest part for me was trying to take photos of the cake before my little one picked off each berry and put them into his little mouth, taking a break only to say de-yi-shish. As I looked at him–mouth filled with berries, fingers stained with black raspberries and shirt stained with red raspberries—I thought it was a great way for us to celebrate Petit World Citizen’s first anniversary. IMG_1845 P.S. Oh and remember the galette with mixed berries I also had in mind? Well, I didn’t give up on it. Stay tuned! IMG_1822 Lemon-Basil Chiffon Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Frosting and Fresh Berries
Serves 8-10

1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
zest from 1 lemon
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh basil, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
basil leaves, for garnish
edible flowers, for garnish
assorted fresh berries, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F/ (180C). Line an 8×2-inch round cake pan with parchment paper. Do NOT butter the pan or parchment. Grate the zest from the lemon and set aside.

In a bowl, sift and combine the flour and baking powder. Add 1/4 cup sugar. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon zest, egg yolks and water. Add basil. In a third bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar until the egg whites are frothy. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, then fold in the egg whites. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool in pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Then, run a thin knife or frosting spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen cake. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, remove parchment, and allow to cool completely.

Martine’s Note: At first I intended to make this a one layer cake. While the cake was baking in the oven I changed my mind and decided to bake another one so I could have two layers. Note the recipe is only for one layer. You will have to plan and adjust, increasing the recipe accordingly, if you’d like two or more layers.

Lemon Mascarpone Frosting
Yield: 2 cups

2 cups mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix until combined, about 1 minute. Please note, DO NOT OVERBEAT. The mascarpone cheese will curdle if you beat it too long. Again, mix/beat only until the ingredients are combined.

When the cakes are totally cool, place one layer on a serving dish. Spread a layer of frosting on top and then place other cake layer on top. Spread a layer of frosting on the top of the second cake layer and enjoy decorating the rest of the cake with fresh basil leaves, flowers and fresh berries. Serve slices of the cake with extra berries as a light and refreshing summer dessert.

The design for this Summer Cake was inspired by Manger’s Garden Cake.

I used basil leaves and edible flowers to decorate this cake. If you don’t have access to either, use the safest flowers and leaves available, but be sure to remove them appropriately before eating your cake.

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Happy Summer!

 

Quinoa Cake with Fava Beans, Peas and Basil-Cilantro Purée

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It’s early in the morning and everyone is still asleep at my home. I’m up early, sipping tea from a small gourd filled with yerba mate, a South American beverage that I’ll have to write about some time in another post. Now, it’s time to focus and seize this opportunity—quiet time for me to write and share my recipe for this quinoa cake. Soon, my apartment will be filled with the pitter patter of little footsteps and a sweet voice that has quickly learned to make lovely sentences. “Goo morny my yuv”, he will say to me with a sweet smile, and just like that, I won’t be able to think of any other way I could start my day more beautifully.

Since my son started eating solid foods he’s had a vegetarian, mostly vegan, diet with limited amounts of refined sugars and processed foods. He now loves an array of fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains and eats almost everything we give him. He never asks for ice cream, cookies or candy because he doesn’t yet know what they are. Yes, I realize the operative word is “yet”. But for now, I’m happy they’re not yet part of is vocabulary. At 22-months old, he’s a healthy little boy who is not a picky eater and has a healthy love of whole foods. People often remark on how he’s such a happy, sweet, calm and engaging little boy. Although some of this has to do with genetics, environment, and just pure luck, my husband and I suspect that a healthy and sugar-free diet also contributes to his calm and happy nature.

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One day he will be old enough to make his own dietary choices. He may choose to eat meat and/or add more dairy into his diet and either will be fine with me. For now though, my responsibility is to give him the healthiest start I know, and for me that’s the opportunity to fall in love with whole foods early in life.

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When I recently picked up fresh peas at the market, I handed him a pea pod and said “peas”. Knowing peas as little green balls, he was confused. I gently pulled open a pod and he quietly watched in anticipation of what lay inside. Once opened, he excitedly reached for the pod and with a bright smile he said, “ge-en peas mama, like it!”

peas

I sautéed the fresh peas along with fava beans and asparagus, a variation of my Asparagus with Edamame and Peas, to use as a topping for a quinoa cake I’ve been wanting to make for a while. If you can’t find peas and/or fava beans, feel free to try this cake with your choice of sautéed greens. It will be packed with goodness, no matter which greens you decide to use. The quinoa cake, made not only with quinoa but also creamy and nutritious polenta, is what some would call the epitome of comfort food. Satisfying in many ways and is both vegan and gluten free.

Slice

The cake is dressed with a vibrant green coat, a purée made of basil and cilantro. If you’d prefer, you can try using only basil or substitute fresh mint or parsley for either of the herbs listed. For added color, texture, flavor and moisture I topped it off with a generous serving of diced tomatoes.

Quinoa Cake with Fava Beans, Peas and Cilantro-Basil Purée
Serves 6-8

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well and drained
1 cup polenta
6 cups water or low sodium broth, divided
1/3 cup dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cup kale, finely chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/3 cup basil, finely chopped
salt
olive oil
basil-cilantro purée
tomatoes, diced
watercress leaves for garnish, optional

Sautéed Fava Beans and Peas
1 leek, cleaned and sliced thinly
2 shallots, chopped
2-3 garlic scapes or cloves, minced
olive oil
1 cup peas, shelled
1 cup fava beans, shelled, blanched and peeled
1 bunch asparagus, peeled and cut in 1″ pieces
1/4 cup water
mint, a few leaves
parsley or chives, a few sprigs
salt and pepper
lemon zest

Basil-Cilantro Purée
1 cup basil, fresh and lightly packed
1 cup cilantro, fresh and lightly packed
2 garlic scapes or cloves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2-1 teaspoon salt
pepper, freshly ground

To make the quinoa, put quinoa in 2 cups water and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

To make the polenta, bring 4 cups of water, sun-dried tomatoes and a pinch of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Using a large wooden spoon, slow stir in polenta. Decrease heat and continue to cook for about 25 minutes, stirring the polenta every few minutes to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Taste and adjust for salt. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F. Add kale, cilantro and basil leaves to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

In a large bowl, combine quinoa and polenta. Add kale, cilantro, basil and salt. Mix well.

Oil a 10″ springform pan and evenly distribute quinoa mixture inside. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush the top of the cake with a layer of the purée. Allow to cool in pan for about 5 minutes. Then, using a small knife or cake spatula, gently release any portion of the cake that might be stuck to the side of the pan. Release cake from springform pan and allow to cool.

Make the Sautéed vegetables
In a medium saucepan, sauté leeks, shallots and garlic in oil for about 2 minutes. Add peas, fava beans and water and cook until water is absorbed. Toss in herbs (mint, parsley or chives). Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with lemon zest before serving.

Make the Basil-Cilantro Purée
Add basil, cilantro and garlic to a food processor and pulse until well combined. While the motor is still running, pour in the oil and process until you have a nice purée. Add salt and pepper, pulse to combine then taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and chill until ready to use.

To put it all together
Gently and carefully transfer cooled quinoa cake on to a serving dish. Decorate top and sides of the cake with sautéed vegetables, tomatoes and watercress leaves. Drizzle with basil-cilantro purée and serve.

Note: If you can take heat, a few dashes of hot sauce or chili pepper would be an excellent addition to the sautéed greens. However, if you’re planning to feed this dish to children, don’t even think about it.

In celebration of summer’s recent arrival, I “brought” this cake to Angie’s (The Novice Gardener‘s) weekly Fiesta Friday gathering.

Charms of June: Spring Round-up

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What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfilment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.”~ Gertrude Jekyl

Spring

For me, this spring has been filled with travel, adventure, entertaining guests at home, and lots of baking and cooking. In celebration of the upcoming June solstice, I thought I’d share a round-up of a few interesting and tasty dishes from my table this spring that made it to Instagram, but not yet on the blog.

Heralding the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere, the June solstice will take place this coming weekend on Saturday, June 21st. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year and has been celebrated for centuries with all sorts of traditions growing up around it.

In a previous post, Music, a Universal Language?, I mention a favorite celebration in France called “La Fête de la Musique”, a celebration of music that occurs on June 21st. I think music is a wonderful way to celebrate the first day of summer and I’m already thinking of an eclectic playlist of music from around the world to enjoy at home!

How about you? How do you plan to celebrate the beginning of summer? I’d love to know.

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