I like baking desserts but what I really love to make is bread… any kind and shape as long as it’s bread!
In the Summer time when it’s hot, there’s not many people who like to bake. To me baking is more something I enjoy doing when it’s cooler outside. The smell of fresh dough while baking in the oven is my ultimate weakness…!
From the visual perspective, the beautiful golden color helps to give that slight push over the hill to remove any willpower left in my body. It doesn’t matter if I’m hungry or not, when fresh baked bread comes out from the oven, I need to eat some right away unless it’s for dinner when having company over… then I admit, it’s simply a torture as I have to restrain myself and wait for the appropriate moment…
With many celebrations ahead, baking homemade bread is something that everyone will really appreciate! There are some bread recipes that can take days before you see the final result and also others that take a few hours to complete. One I enjoy baking is Dinner Rolls because it’s a simple recipe. It doesn’t take days to make and the results are delicious. Of course everyone can always buy them at the supermarket but c’mon… nothing beats the smell and taste of fresh homemade bread.
This extra touch will make your dinner party a success when you serve them to your guests because of the freshness, tenderness and just because you took the time to make them… Enjoy!
The influence of French cuisine has always been very predominant in my culture. Although in Québec we have our own traditional recipes, it wasn’t uncommon to eat classic French dishes such as Escargot au beurre à l’ail, Pain au Chocolat, Vichyssoise, Chateaubriand, Coquilles Saint Jacques, terrine, Crêpes Suzette, Rillettes, Navarin d’Agneau, Chocolate Eclairs, Bourride and so on…
One dish my mother made every year that was well received with so much enthusiasm was her Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Bourguignon). Oh my! The aroma floating in the air from the beautiful cubed beef slowly cooked for hours in a dark rich wine sauce with fresh herbs and spices, made everyones mouth water with anticipation! In our family we loved to serve this scrumptious dish over creamy mashed potatoes with crusty bread…
Every year it seems that David and I entertain more and more. There are soooooo many recipes that I created with or without his input and nonetheless I love to go back to my roots and serve what means the most to me… my family’s own traditions! Growing up in the suburbs of Montréal, I had a pretty good life as a child. The only missing link was that we were so far away from the rest of our family. Both of my parents grew up in the region of Québec city. Back then, the 3 ½ hours of driving seemed like a 5 day trip. For some reason, going to visit family was an adventure. When I was younger, I remember going often but as years went by, we barely went there therefore my brother and I never really connected with our cousins … we were the “outsiders”! Although some of them tried slightly to bind over the years, the “deep” connection won’t ever be there… sad to say!
But let’s not drift away from the initial subject… Boeuf Bourguignon! Oh lala! My mother served this dish on very special occasions and the Holidays were one of them. One time, we went to Québec (okay it was Lévis which is on the South shore of the capital city) to visit the family. My grandmother Juliette (on my mother’s side) was an incredible cook as well as a talented musician and an extremely smart woman. She had us over for dinner and served her Boeuf Bourguignon. I was surprised about the taste as it was slightly different from my mother’s version. When I had a chance to ask my mother why hers is not quite like my grandmothers, she replied that hers needed a little improvement. Was she cocky? Maybe or maybe not … I did the same with her recipe… lol!
If you compare my recipe to my mother’s, many ingredients have been added. Now if you compare mine to my granny, it might be a little closer but at the same time pretty far apart when it comes to ingredients. I believe the recipe hasn’t changed much until three generations ago… thanks to a few stubborn women who thought their way was the better way… mine included!
With a few changes (or maybe more than I think it is), here’s a recipe from my family’s ancestors who brought their culture to the “New World”. Leaving France and crossing the very big pond separating Europe to Canada, my ancestors brought something very important along with them… their traditions! Because of them, I’m sharing a part of “me” with you, somehow bringing my culture and traditions to you during this special time of the year which is the Holidays! From the bottom of my heart, please let me pass on a very precious piece of me… my roots!
During the Holidays, we bake a lot more especially when we are hosting a dinner. Many baked goods can be great to bring to a party or to give as a gift. The list of baked recipes is almost endless and can be hard to choose from…
Since I’ve been living on my own, I always loved having dinner parties at my place and more so during this time of year. Having people around, laughing and telling stories while music is playing in the background with flavorful aromas of cooked food floating through the air, makes the entire evening a beautiful memory to cherish!
Like everyone else, I obviously bake more during the Holidays. There are cookies, cakes, breads, pies everywhere… no wonder I gain weight! It’s all good because it wouldn’t be the same without the baked goods – I’ve heard that Santa has a sweet tooth!
I particularly remember my second Christmas when I was hosting a large group for dinner. I wanted to start ahead of time and make my cookies, pies, breads, fruitcakes and so on. When I went to the supermarket, after adding all the ingredients I needed to my shopping cart, there was one item I couldn’t find… candied fruits! I went to other stores with same scenario… no candied fruits. I started to panic! I was going to make a fruit cake but without the fruits, there’s no “fruitcake”! As soon as I returned home, I called my mother to tell her about the situation. To my astonishment, she told me over the phone how to make them… After all the running around, the frustration along with the stress, I discovered how simply and easy it was to make candied fruits!
This recipe is for all you bakers… It is such a simple method to make them and in my opinion, they taste better than the ones from the store. This is an ingredient that you need to have around especially when there’s a lot of baking involved. Thanks to my mom, I was able to make my fruitcake and learn another recipe. After preserving them and storing them in an airtight container, I can enjoy them for a whole year and there’s no need to go to the supermarket…
Happy Baking and… Bon Appétit!
It doesn’t matter where you are from, we all grew up with recipes from our cultures, our nation and of course from our family circle. This is how traditions are made… with simple little things like favorite foods and recipes!
In case some of you don’t know where I’m from originally, I was born and raised in Montréal. I was in my early 20s when I first moved to Ontario, returned briefly to Québec and then moved back to Ontario again. I’ve been living outside of the province of Québec for most of my life (almost 30 years) and yet, I still carry on my traditions. This is who I am… a French lady from Québec.
All the kids in my neighborhood grew up eating almost the same foods. When the Holidays were around the corner, we were anticipating all the dishes that would be served during those “special occasions”. Besides the traditional turkey dinner, there were other food staples that hit most Québécois family tables during that time of year and ours wasn’t any different!
Tourtière was always on the menu… tourt… iere… what? Yes tourtière! What is it, you ask? It’s simply a meat pie packed with flavor. Cooked with different types of meat and added spices, herbs and other ingredients, this dish is such an important staple in Québec during the Holidays! It has been around for 400 years in our French Canadian culture… now that should tell you something about tradition…! If there’s no tourtière on the menu, then something quite important is missing from the dinner table. I personally prefer to have tourtière over turkey and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Of course from one family to another, everyone adds their own personal touch. I’m sure mine can be slightly different than someone else’s. For an example, my mother and I don’t cook the same tourtière. I add potatoes to mine while she doesn’t. The taste and texture of mine is different but not to the point that our tourtières are far apart.
Just a quick story here… I was telling our friends Nitsa and Les about the Holidays and that I’d love to have them over for dinner. Right away Les asked me if I knew how to make tourtière. I was shocked that he’d even heard about it. I had a smirk on my face when I said – “Of course I know how to make it! ” – and before he continued, I had the feeling that he would ask me to make some for him…! Sure enough, he requested that I make him a few pies. There’s also other friends of ours, Louise and Tim, where the same scenario repeated – Tim loves tourtière and wanted some as well… perhaps there’s a business opportunity here…lol!
Anyway, this just tells you how much people enjoy the taste of it and just like the French Canadians, this is a well anticipated dish that everyone loves! It is a delicious Holiday staple to have on your table during this time of year. It freezes well so it can be enjoyed later on during the year. This is a dish that is served along with turkey and can be relished with gravy or ketchup… seriously! I love mine with a couple dollops of ketchup. So if you want to add a new taste sensation to your festive menu, this is the perfect choice…
FOOTNOTE: After baking the pies at 425ºF for 15 minutes, you have 2 options; either you continue baking and reduce heat to 350ºF for an additional 50 to 60 minutes OR you freeze them for later use.
If you decide to freeze the tourtières, remove from the heat and let them cool to room temperature then wrap the pies tightly with plastic wrap followed with aluminum foil. To thaw out frozen pies, place them in the refrigerator overnight and then bake them in the oven at 350ºF for 50-60 minutes or until the crust is golden.
This delicious and flavorful 400 year old recipe pairs so well with turkey dinner during the Holidays but we, French Canadians, enjoy it any time of the year!