Monday, June 30, 2014

Quail stuffed with Couscous and served with Eggplant parmiggiana



I found a pack of 6 quails in the Portuguese market the other day and couldn’t resist taking it home with me. I love quail and it’s quite hard to find organic, run free and halal quails anywhere nowadays, so when I saw these beauties I just had to have them.

The best way to cook (and eat) quail in my opinion is stuffed and roasted with white wine and butter, lots of butter.

It might seem frightening to cook something so sophisticated but in fact it’s pretty simple. Don’t be scared to try something new and once you get it right (if not the first time) you will have a great recipe to show off your skills at a dinner party.

This is one of those recipes without measurements, so feel free to adjust everything to your tasting.



6 quails

about 100g of soft butter, I used unsalted.

fresh thyme and rosemary

about 1 glass of white wine (whichever wine you prefer, but not very sweet)

salt and pepper to taste


Start by cleaning the quails well, outside and inside with water, and then patting them dry with a paper towel, to make sure the skin gets crispy and brown.

Let them sit on paper towel until completely dry.

Meanwhile, remove one stick of butter from the fridge, chop some rosemary and pick some thyme leaves. Set aside.

Once they are dry, twist their wings so they rest their “head” on their “hands”, just like they were lying on the beach, sunbathing. (see pictures below)

Make the couscous.

Stuff each one, individually and generously with the couscous. (see pictures below)

Wrap their legs with cooking twine to make sure the couscous will not fall off.

Rub each one with lots of soft butter, leaving some chunks of butter on top. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange them in a baking pan, one close to the other.

Sprinkle some herb mix (rosemary and thyme) on top. Pour some white wine in the pan and cook them at 350 F until golden brown and crispy.

Open the oven every 15 minutes and pour some of the wine on top of the quails, basting them in the liquid.










4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 cup of couscous

1/2 cup white wine (dry)

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

olive oil

salt and pepper

thyme and rosemary


Fry the onion in olive oil until trans lucid. Add the garlic, thyme and rosemary.

Add the couscous. stir well and season it with salt and pepper.

Add the wine and stir well. Add the chicken stock, hot. Turn off the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Leave it covered for 5 minutes. It’s ready. Fluff it with a fork.


Eggplant parmiggiana:

1 or 2 eggplants

1 can/ jar of organic tomato sauce

2 bay leaves

oilve oil

salt and pepper

mozzarella cheese

parmesan cheese

Slice the eggplant thinly. Fry each slice in olive oil until soft.

Coat the bottom of a pan with tomato sauce and season it with salt, pepper and bay leaves. Start building layers of eggplant and tomato sauce until you use all the eggplant. Top it with the tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan and bake at 350 F until it boils and the mozzarella starts to brown.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Baking with chef Chuck Hughes




I know I haven’t posted in a while and I’d really like to apologize to my readers for taking so long. I honestly just haven’t had time. As some of you may already know, I started working for Garde Manger (chef Chuck Hughes’s restaurant) in the beginning of the year and it has been a very busy but truly rewarding experience.

Before the restaurant I was in a very early morning lifestyle, starting bright at 7 o’clock and arriving home between 4 and 5pm, but since the beginning of the year I went from an early morning worker to a very late night one. And don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love that change. I frankly despise the alarm clock going off at 5 am and being in a zombie like state for the rest of the day. But I’m still adapting to this big change and trying to find time for everything I want to do.

The restaurant is great and the food is amazing. I actually went there for the first time last week as a client and was treated like a queen. The staff was super attentive and the food was more than satisfying and really well done.

But What I really wanna write about today is my experience with Chuck. You may know him from his popular shows on food network: Chuck’s day off and Chuck’s week off, which were both filmed at the restaurant, or even from Top Chef.

Every time he goes to the restaurant I am amazed as how nice he is. He is always helping out everyone and even scrubs pan and pots really hard to help the dishwasher. I go up to make dessert (because I work in the basement kitchen) and there he is, in the dish pit, making sure everything gets done. He is such a nice guy, always with a big smile on his face and ready for action.

I love the ideas he gives me and all the inspiration pictures we discuss in our meetings.

I actually got to bake with him last month and it was an amazing experience. It was maple syrup season and he decided we should serve Chomeur (a classic Québecois dessert) and just opened up a book and started baking for me. We discussed the sauce consistency and the right pot to serve it and voilà, we created the perfect dessert for the season. It was so delicious we actually had it on the menu for 2 weeks, on demand, as it took 20 minutes to bake and it was served hot with a vanilla ice cream scoop on top. Yum! We sold out every night, of course!

Right now it’s summer and it’s all about our new Pacojet (a machine that makes ice cream between other great stuff) and there he was again, creating new fantastic ice cream flavors.

You can tell he loves what he does, just by looking at his face when you try something he’s made, or when he gets super excited to try something new I made.

Between all the photographs with clients and fans and all the shows and tours he does he still has time to seat and talk about his dessert ideas, and help everyone around. I’m very proud of working for such a nice, creative and professional chef.

And if you like him and would like to meet him, just stop by the restaurant for a delicious and hearty meal and you might spot him, walking around and hanging out with his biggest fans: his employees. And if you want a taste of his creations, just order the affogatto and you’ll taste his white chocolate vanilla ice cream inside a warm cup of espresso served with chocolate dipped meringue and topped with orange peel candy.

The restaurant is at: 408 St François Xavier St, in the old port.

For reservations and info:

Monday, March 31, 2014

Textured Soy Protein



Whenever I feel like eating rice with vegetables I always think there is something missing and this something usually is protein. Two good vegan sources of protein are quinoa and soy. *Make sure to buy organic, as most countries use GMO soy and quinoa*

Today my lunch was very easy, practical and super nutritious. I made a simple rice with quinoa, cooked together, kale stir fried with some garlic, mushrooms and soy protein seasoned with tomato paste, Kalamata olives, garlic, spring onions and vegetable stock. It was simply delicious and I actually had seconds.

I really missed some home cooked food! Working in a restaurant I usually eat with the staff and the food, although very good, is not always with that homemade feel and I find it too elaborated sometimes. I’m a simple girl, who likes simple, yet very tasty food and most of the time I crave pasta or some other childhood memory meal that includes carbs. Having an Italian family doesn’t help! Plus, at the restaurant I end up eating just salad as the main food always seems to be meat for some reason! So, yes, I really missed my own homemade food. It might be extremely simple but it definitely is full of love and nutrition.

I don’t know how you make your soy protein, but I simply fry some garlic in olive oil, add 2 cups of dehydrated soy and season it with salt and pepper to taste. Then, I add tomato paste (2 tbsp), a little water (about 1 cup), spring onions and olives or whatever else I have in the fridge. And that’s it. It’s very simple and fast to make and such a good complement for the rice and veggies.

By eating vegan and organic not only we are contributing to our own health but also making sure life is respected the way it should be, without antibiotics and fertilizers and without helping the terrible processed food industry to make billions. We are helping the animals live a longer and good life and being cruelty free. We are helping our intestine digest better and giving our bodies more vitamins.

Respect what you eat, respect your body and your soul and respect the mother nature!

Anybody has another soy protein recipe to share? Or any absurdly delicious vegan dessert?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sweet Bread with Pastry Cream

This is a delicious bread to have any time of the day, especially for breakfast. It's very simple to make and the best part is that it has no additives and it's truly homemade.


Sweet Bread with Pastry Cream



15g fresh yeast or 1/2 a pack of dry yeast

3 tbsp. sugar

1 1/4 cup warm milk

1 cup flour

1 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. sugar

1/4 cup butter (melted)

about 500g flour


1 recipe for pastry cream (500g) - make 1/2 of this recipe:

1 egg and 1/4 cup water with 1 tbsp. apricot jam for brushing



1- In a bowl, dissolve the yeast with 3 tbsp. sugar and milk. Add 1 cup of flour and mix well. Let it rest covered with a damp towel for about 30 minutes or until it doubles in size. Preferably in a warm place. I usually let it rise on top of the stove with the oven on.

2- When it has doubled in size, add the salt and 2 tbsp. sugar and the melted butter and mix well with a wooden spoon.

3- Add about 500g of flour, little by little, stirring with a wooden spoon until the dough becomes sticky and difficult to stir.

4- Transfer dough to a floured surface and working with your hands, knead the dough until it becomes homogeneous and elastic. About 10 minutes. Add more flour if needed. This step can be done using a kitchen aid mixer.

5- Make a ball with the dough and place it inside a lightly floured bowl. Let it rise until it doubles in size again.

6- When it has doubled in size, roll out a rectangle of 35 X 40 cm. Spread the pastry cream all over. Roll dough lengthwise until you have a cigar shape. Stick together the two edges making a big doughnut shape. Cover it with a damp towel and let it rise one more time until it doubles in size.

7- When dough is ready, brush the top with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten) and bake for about 5 minutes in a 375 F oven and then  lower the oven to 350 F and bake it for another 30 minutes.

8- When it comes out of the oven, brush the top with a mixture of 1/4 cup water and 1 tbsp. apricot jam while still hot.

9- Let it cool down completely before serving.



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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Industrialized vs. Homemade


I was wondering why people care more about the way something looks than the way it tastes. Is appearance really that important in life? Even when it comes to food? I mean, of course it matters but to me at least, taste is the most important factor when choosing a restaurant or anything else, really.

I guess people just don’t care enough about their health or even worse, about what they are eating. People see food as fuel and not as pleasure. I’m not like that.

This is one of the reasons I became a pastry chef. To prove that taste does matter and that food can be much more than just energy.

When people go for ice cream or a piece of cake they don’t usually regard it as food, but as a moment of pleasure, as a reward, per se. And that fills my heart with a lot of satisfaction too. Watching people have fun while enjoying a piece of pie is what makes me wanna bake even more.

The problem, though, is all these industrial products we have out there nowadays, manufactured just simply to give you pleasure in a bite, but really empty inside, in real flavors and nutrition.

I get upset when people cannot tell the difference between something truly homemade and something manipulated to activate their palate. The world is full of things made out of artificial stuff. From the color to the taste, full of additives and conservatives and created in a lab by very smart people who want to get you addicted to their food and coming back for more. Just to cite a few places that serve this kind of food with zero quality I could mention Mac Donald’s, Subway, Wendy’s and Pizza hut. But you already know that. What you don’t realize, however, is that everything you buy in the supermarket is created by the same giant labs, like the chocolate bars and custards and icings you put on your cakes!

So yeah, it upsets me when basically 50% of what I see shared in social media consists of recipes using these industrial ingredients. Of course it’s fine to have them once in a while, they DO taste good, but to see so much of that going around being passed on as real recipes makes me sad to tell you the least.

Where did tradition go? Where are people’s standards? Can you really say your desserts (made in 10 minutes, just whipping up all these pre-made ingredients) tastes better than the ones your grandma used to make? I can assure you it doesn’t. Well at least not in my family!

My Italian grandma used to spend the whole day in the kitchen, preparing the most delicious meals with real ingredients which came mostly from her own garden. A dessert would take at least 2 hours to prepare and you wouldn’t forget it for at least 6 months. They tasted so amazing that the flavor would stay in your head and tongue for months, lingering and bringing you a smile every time you remembered that specific meal. Any hint of vanilla or lemon smell would take you back, instantly to that same moment. Meals were not only a way of feeding our bodies but also a way of feeding our minds, being united with family and sharing traditions and life experiences.

Not only everything tasted incredibly good, but they were actually very good for you. Real food made with real ingredients. What happened to all of that?

But of course nothing was cheap.

When we talk about price nowadays people are just used to paying so little for all this crap they call food, that when you actually make something that is real they think it’s too expensive.

Now I ask you, how can you charge the same cheap, industrial price for a cupcake, for example, when in fact you are using real flour, and no cruelty eggs and when you are making the recipe from scratch, without the use of any preservatives, cake mixes and the sort. How can you charge the same price of that cupcake that has been in the window of that shop for at least 2 weeks and it looks and tastes exactly the same as when it was ‘freshly’ made? Seriously?

Of course real cupcakes are not gonna be as moist, and a little hard or dry after a few days, of course they are not gonna look the same as when they were made, and people, I tell you, that’s really a good thing!

Do you prefer to have a piece of chocolate that will literally kill you for 1 dollar or a real piece of real chocolate that is not only tasty but good for you, that costs 2 dollars? Think about that the next time you shop!

Also, labor may be an issue when talking about factory made stuff. Not only do they use machines for almost everything but they pay their employees really bad. Do you really wanna be a part of that?

People say: in the old times things were not so expensive and they were better. Not really guys. What price comparison do we really have now? 0,50 cents from a factory, fake something or 1,50 for the real homemade version. The difference is that in the past the factories didn’t really take over 90% of the market, so the price comparison was much more fair. We would talk about 2 ladies with a 50 cent difference in price because of profit or the real price of ingredients, but now, we are talking about people vs machine. That is just not fair!

I’ve already talked about organic food on the blog before and it has everything to do with this.

Organic and real food means something made from fresh ingredients and real ingredients, instead of plastic, GMO fabrications that we see in the supermarkets today. In fact the word supermarket means it’s probably fake and manufactured at a factory, full of conservatives and preservatives and basically all genetically modified.

An old Korean woman once told my husband that the word convenience is the real problem we have in society today. Everything is convenient and that word to many people mean something good, easy to find and prepare, fast and easy to buy. But in fact she was absolutely right! Convenience IS in fact the biggest problem we face today in society, being that if you think of real food and real organic ingredients it takes time to plant and care for them, many products are lost due to weather conditions and pests and that makes it more expensive for us to buy and gives us limited access to certain foods and fruits that are not in season or just not grown locally, which is not at all convenient.

I believe that if you want to eat something good, then you really have to make it. There is no way around that. You might even have to hunt your own meat and gut the animal and all that. And who said that is really bad? Although I personally don’t eat red meat and pork and I prefer to have a vegetarian diet, without any meat products, I think it’s more respectful to hunt for your food than to just buy it whenever you feel like eating meat, which for most people is every day, unfortunately. You gotta respect the animal you are eating and respect the life you are taking, and hunting is a natural act of survival.

Where did all that respect for food go to?

Does time spent in the kitchen, to really make something with love, count at all nowadays?

I’m so upset with this stupid modern mentality. The convenience that doesn’t know where to stop. The taste that doesn’t exist anymore. The quality that is truly unattainable!

It sickens me when I see people actually say that Starbucks is better than the coffee they have at home.

Wake up people! Up your standards and shake off that addiction!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Homemade Veggie Burgers



I had some leftover cauliflower in my fridge and had to use it as soon as possible but didn’t know what to do with it.

Then it hit me: Why not use it for veggie burgers? And that’s exactly what I did!

It was just a matter of mixing it up with some chick peas and a few other veggies and herbs and there it was. They came out delicious and so fresh.

All I had to do was arrange them in an organic carrot bun with romaine and Jarlsberg cheese and it was simply heaven on a bite!

If you are wondering what to make for dinner tonight and have some veggies forgotten in the fridge, just mix them up and make yourself a homemade veggie burger with whatever you have in hand.

You can use broccoli and beans, of any kind. I just used chick peas because they are my favorite, but really, any beans or grains will do.

Here is the recipe I used for the patties. It makes 7 to 8 medium patties.

I hope you try them soon.



1/2 cauliflower (roasted with garlic, 1 bay leaf, olive oil, salt and pepper)

1/2 can of chick peas (washed and drained)

1 carrot (finely chopped)

1 celery stick (finely chopped)

1/2 onion (finely chopped)

1 egg

1 cup panko (or any other breadcrumb you have available)

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

salt and pepper to taste

a drizzle of olive oil



Roast the cauliflower for about 30 to 50 minutes in  a 350F oven.

In a food processor, chop the carrot, celery and onion together.

Add the cauliflower (cold) and the chick peas.

Add the egg and mix well.

Remove the mixture from the food processor. In a bowl add the parsley, panko and the salt and pepper to taste.

Using your hands, shape the patties.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan.

Add the patties when the oil is very hot. Fry both sides well. Cover with a lid if necessary.

You may add the cheese and cover them to help the cheese melt.

Serve hot.








Friday, January 31, 2014

Turkey pie with potatoes



This is an easier and healthier version to regular pie and it’s something I usually make when I have to use those potatoes that have been left hanging around in the kitchen.

It’s great on its own but it can also be accompanied by soup or salad and it’s quite comforting on a cold winter night when you don’t have much time to cook but still want something truly homemade.

You may substitute the potatoes for sweet potatoes, yams, yucca or even cauliflower. The filling can be a variety of just veggies, veggies and cheese, any meat and cheese or meat and veggies. I normally use whatever I have in the fridge and it’s a great way to get rid of leftovers too.

This is my latest version with turkey, broccoli, cashew nuts and potatoes. I served it with hot béchamel on top.












1 pack of minced (grain fed and free range organic) turkey meat (about 400g)

2 cups of broccoli

1 cup of cashew nuts (salted and roasted)

1/2 onion chopped

3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

salt, pepper, olive oil

3 to 4 big potatoes (washed and peeled)

2 egg yolks

1 tbsp butter




Start by boiling the potatoes in salted water until very soft. About 20 to 30 minutes.

Cut the broccoli in small pieces and steam them until cooked but still a little crunchy. About 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry the onion and garlic in a frying pan with a little olive oil.

Add the meat and stir constantly until completely cooked. I like to brown it a little for some extra flavor.

Add the broccoli, already steamed to the frying pan and stir occasionally until well mixed.

Add the cashew. Season it with salt and pepper and turn off the heat.

Back to the potatoes, smash them well, until pureed. Add the yolks and mix well and vigorously so the eggs don’t cook. While still a little warm, add the butter and season it with more salt and pepper and a little grated nutmeg.










To assemble the pie:

Using a 9” tart pan, layer the bottom with half of the potato purée.

Pour in the meat filling.

Cover it with the rest of the potato purée.

Make some marks over top using a fork.

Bake it at 350F for at least 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.