Ramadan recipes

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Egyptian Iftar

Ramadan is here! And you know what that means… around my house it’s a time to reflect and to giving thanks, time for prayer and to slow down… also a time to enjoy a lot of Arabic food!

Links to our most popular recipes (click the title for the links) and recipes to two base sauces:

Moulokheya
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Messa’aa – Egyptian moussaka
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Knefa bil eshta
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Fattah – Fatteh
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New Recipes – Traditional side sauces
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Tahina

1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 c tahina
3/4 c water*
lemon/lime juice of one lime
cumin
coriander seeds
dash of paprika
salt

In a small bowl mix tahina and garlic clove. Slowly add water and whisk mixture thoroughly. When you start adding water the mixture will become really stiff, don’t worry this is normal, just keep whisking and adding water. Once you obtain the desired texture, add lemon juice, a dash of cumin, ground coriander seeds and paprika. Season with salt. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

Amount of water depends on the texture you want. Some like runny tahina and others prefer it a bit thicker.

Yogurt & cucumber

2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 L yogurt
2 Lebanese cucumbers, shredded
olive oil to taste (abt 1-2 tblsp)
fresh herbs (mint, parsley or dill)
salt

In a bowl mix all the ingredients and dress with olive oil and fresh herbs.

 

 
  

Pregnancy meal plan

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After seeing a few pregnant mommas stressed about eating healthy during their pregnancies,  I thought I’d share what my meals looked like when I was pregnant.

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My meals consisted of easy and colorful dishes. I didn’t really restrict myself. I ate what my body wanted to eat; if I craved ice cream or frozen yogurt I would go ahead and have one serving, but I wouldn’t go over board. I indulged in guilty cravings here and there (ahem pasta, fried chicken, pizza) but I didn’t use my pregnancy as an excuse to over eat. I focused on eating a variety of colors to make sure my baby got enough vitamins and nutrients.

I was blessed with a healthy full-term pregnancy & baby. During which I gained a total of 10 kg. In the first trimester, I was very sensitive to smells so I ate whatever my body told me- mostly soda crackers, ginger snaps, cream cheese, cottage cheese, bananas, grilled cheese sandwiches and Kraft dinner (guilty!). At the end of the first trimester I started feeling more like myself, this is what a typical day looked like.

Breakfast:
Banana and blueberry milk smoothie daily! Toast with avocado and a small cup of oatmeal OR a blueberry waffle with butter and maple syrup (sometimes all of the above!)

Morning smoothies really helped increase my fruit intake they are delicious and a great way to start your day. And hey if the waffle has blueberries it counts as fruit, right?

Morning Snack:
Almonds/peanuts, dried fruit and cheese OR seasonal fruit with yogurt and granola (or a cookie why not!)

Lunch:
Multicolored salad with a hard boiled egg OR a hefty sandwich.

For the salad I tried to use any leftovers from the previous meals – got some leftover quinoa? Just toss it up with whatever veggies you have in the fridge like some kale, tomatoes and radicchio with a balsamic and grain mustard vinagrette. If I was in a rush I would make myself a sandwich on whole wheat toast. I always tried to incorporate protein and iron-rich foods.

Evening snack
Cucumber and tomato slices with zaatar and labneh or bread and cheese spread

Dinner:
Steamed sea bass {en papillot} with pasta and green salad

For dinner I always tried to have protein, a side of carbs and greens. I tried to incorporate fish and seafood at least once or twice a week. Normally I would have roasted chicken or rabbit with roasted veggies and a side of polenta or quinoa. When I wanted to indulge I’d have a hearty pasta dish (like the one pictured above).

Late snack:
something sweet like banana bread and almond milk!

During my pregnancy I baked a lot- mostly because I like sweet breads and also because I liked knowing what I was putting into my body. Towards the end of my pregnancy I started including dates in my banana bread, especially after Haloosh and my amazing doula mentioned how beneficial they are for birth (my doula even sent me some interesting articles about it).

I also drank tons of water and tried not to eat right before going to bed espcially in the last trimester to avoid heartburn, something I never experienced until I was preggo (what a joy… said no one ever!). A useful tip for those who suffer from heartburn drink chilled almond milk. I used to take a small glass of almond milk to bed and take sips whenever I felt the burn. It really helped!

The most important thing is to enjoy your pregnancy and relax! Don’t stress about weight gain and how much you are eating- think about nourishing your baby and your body. Enjoy this amazing time when its actually good to eat more!

What did/do your meals looked like when you were pregnant?

Mother’s Day – Apricot & Fennel Scones

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It really hits you, the first time you celebrate Mother’s day… like the first time you hold your baby… You are a mother, you gave birth (or adopted) this little child and you have been blessed with the most wonderful, important, challenging, at times frustrating/messy and empowering responsibility of all, mothering this baby. So congratulations Mama, whether it’s your first or 32nd time celebrating!

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Last year was my first year celebrating Mother’s day as a mother. It was such a special, commemorative day. The warm weather had just started to peak through Montreal, green grass was starting to spread and the trees beginning to bloom, so we decided to take a stroll and had a lovely lunch at Patrice Patissier {quite obsessed about it since last year, as seen in this post}

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That day, I received a lovely gift from my baby (read: awesome husband), a signed copy of Les Desserts de Patrice. Don’t know how he got that without me noticing! He is very skillful :)

If you have a sweet tooth, I highly recommend this book. It’s filled with scrumptious recipes and helpful tips (trucs de Patrice/recettes de base). Here is one of my favorite recipes… Perfect for Mother’s Day Brunch

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Scones aux Abricots, au Fenouil et au Citron
From Les Desserts de Patrice © Les Editions de l’Homme

Portions: 12

Ingredients
220 g (1 1/2 c) flour50 g (1/4 c) sugar
8 g (2 tsp) baking powder
pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon
1.75 g (1 tsp) fennel seeds
125 g (1/2 c) cold butter, cut into cubes
12 dried apricots, minced
180 g (3/4 c)  cream, 35 % cold
cream for brushing
sugar for dusting

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C)
2. In a bowl, sift flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add lemon zest  and fennel seeds.
3. With your hands, blend the butter in the dry ingredients. Do not over-mix, it is important to retain small pea-sized pieces of butter.
4. Add the apricots and the cream. Mix only until just combined. NOTE: don’t over-work the dough.
5. In a floured surface*, with the help of a rolling pin, roll dough until its about 2cm (3/4 inch) thick
*I like to do this between two sheets of parchment paper
6. With your knife, cut the scones and place them on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper or a silicone mat. Place the baking sheet with the scones in the fridge for about 30 min.
7. Remove from the fridge. With a brush, brush the top of the scones with cream and sprinkle sugar atop.
8. Place in the oven and bake for 15 min or until they are nice and golden.

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How will you celebrate Mother’s Day?

Kid and Baby-friendly mousse de foie de volaille

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 A few years back I posted a recipe of mousse de foie de volaille, little did I know that 4 years later I’d be creating a baby-friendly version for my little one!

We really enjoy eating liver at home and I’d been looking for clever ways to introduce liver, which is a great source of iron and protein, into my baby’s diet. I had two main objectives: 

  1. I wanted to reduce livers characteristic pungency (so as not to deter my baby from eating it) 
  2. Achieve a silky smooth texture. 

I knew Nomiku had my back regarding the texture. The low-temp Nomiku bath helps cook the liver through and minimizes moisture loss. The precise temperature control also helps prevent over-cooking the liver (i.e. It prevents that dreaded dry and crumbly texture). To reduce its pungency we pre-soaked the liver in milk for a few hours before cooking and added coriander seeds for a fresh, citrus note.

This mousse de foie is incredibly versatile. You can spread it over toast (and sprinkle some Maldon salt, black pepper, fresh thyme leaves and cornichons for the adults) or add spoonfuls of it over cooked grains like quinoa, rice or even pasta, add a few veggies (like roasted bell peppers and caramelized onions) and its a meal! My little one devoured it without a flinch! 

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Ingredients

Makes 500ml

350 g chicken liver

1 tbsp butter

2 sprigs thyme

1 shallot minced

1/8 tsp crushed coriander seeds

3/4 c milk + 1c for pre-soaking

1 bay leaf

1 allspice

2 tsp sherry vinegar

Instructions

  1. Prep- Clean liver (discard connecting tissue), rinse under cold running water. In a bowl, place cleaned liver and 1 c of milk. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator and let soak for about 2 hrs.
  2. After soaking for at least 2 hrs, strain and rinse liver. Discard milk.
  3. In a food safe zip bag, add liver, butter, thyme, shallot, crushed coriander seeds and 1/4 c milk. Place in a 65C Nomiku bath for 65 minutes.
  4. After 65 min have elapsed, raise temperature to 72C an cook for an additional 5 min.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small pot simmer 1/2 c milk, bay leaf, and allspice for 5-10min. After it has simmered discard bay leaf and allspice.
  6. Once bath is done, remove the bag from the bath. Strain its contents and remove thyme leaves.
  7.  Add liver and vinegar to the pot with milk. With an immersion blender, blend until smooth.
  8. Pour into a container (I used a 500ml mason jar but ramekins work well) and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hrs.

In the meantime, you can prepare a simple jelly for the top (optional). For this
kid-friendly recipe I used 1/4 c warm water, 1/2 tsp unflavoured gelatine, 1/4 c apple juice and 1 tsp vinegar. Once the jelly is cooled to room temp you can pour it over the chilled mousse de foie, return to fridge and let the jelly set.

For my baby’s pasta dish I added 1 tbsp of mousse de foie to 1/2 c of cooked pasta, added some cooked peas, and fresh cheese. If your kid tolerates citrus you can sprinkle some lemon zest to add some freshness to the dish.   My baby loved it and she has been eating liver ever since! 

 

How did you incorporate liver into your baby’s meals?

Easter Fun – Simple Easter DIY & Kiddo activities

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Easter is around the corner (can you believe it!) and as a first time mama, I find myself looking for fun ways to introduce Easter to my little one. Here are a few snippets of inspiration.

1. Classic Sugar Cookies with ALL natural colored icing… not only are they delicious they are so much fun to decorate! 

I found this delicious recipe on Instagram from talented Nicole from @pepperandpalate. They are quickly becoming a family favorite!! I like to scrape the seeds of half a vanilla bean and use it instead of vanilla extract for a stronger vanilla taste.

For an ALL Natural (read: kid friendly) colored icing I used the following.

 All Natural Colored Icing

1 c icing sugar
1-2 tbsp milk

1. In a small bowl mix sugar and milk until well combined.
2. For the COLOR divide icing into different containers and add the following ingredients:

  • Purple- frozen blueberries
  • Pink- hibiscus tea
  • Yellow- turmeric powder

You can vary the amount depending on how intense you want the color, from soft pastels to deep hues.

2. Little details around the house, like some fresh flowers or some Easter chocolates, can really brighten up your place (especially if you are still surrounded by snow outside!)

  

3. Simple activities, like coloring Easter printouts can be fun for kids (and adults!) 

There are tons of adorable Easter coloring pages available online, they range from the typical bunny and eggs to more religious. Print the ones you like, get some crayons and let the little ones (and not so little ones) go to town!

How are you celebrating this Easter?

Easy peasy- baby friendly & grown-up sous-vide peas

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Here is a super easy sous-vide recipe, perfect if you are looking to add more greens to your (or your kids) plate.

Sous-vide French peas

Grown-up version
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients
2 c frozen peas
1/2 c napa cabbage, shredded
1 slice of bacon, cut into thin strips
1/2 tblsp butter
Salt

  1. In a 500 mL mason jar add 4 oz of peas
  2. Layer 2 oz of shredded Napa cabbage on top of the peas
  3. Keep alternating 4 oz of peas, and 2 oz of cabbage until you reach the top
  4. Add butter, bacon, and salt
  5. Fill up with water until the 4 oz mark.
  6. Seal and place in a 90 C Nomiku water bath for 20 min.

Baby friendly
For the baby friendly version skip the butter, bacon and salt. You can add some slices of leek.
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Coffee cake

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Spring is almost here and what better way to celebrate than with a tea party… Perhaps one with this coffee cake

Ingredients
1 1/2 c flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 c sugar
3/4 c milk
1/4 c canola oil
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 tsp coffee
zest of one orange
Crumble:
1/4 c muscovado sugar
1/2 c butter, melted
3/4 c almonds
6 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, coffee and salt.
2. In a large bowl add egg, sugar, milk, oil, orange zest and vanilla. Mix until well combined.
3. Fold dry ingredients into wet mixture.
4. Spread batter on a 9×9″ baking dish and set aside.
5. In a small bowl mix crumble ingredients.
6. Spread crumble over batter
7. Bake for 20-25 min. Or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Let the cake rest more than 5 minutes before unmolding. Enjoy!

Sous-vide Smoked Salmon

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Because nothing says I love you like breakfast in bed, here are two easy recipes for homemade sous-vide smoked salmon… perfect for Valentine’s day!

Both of these recipes result in perfectly moist & flavourful salmon. Sous-vide cooking allows for precise temperature control, this translates into great texture and moisture. Smokey lapsang souchong imparts its characteristic smokey-pine quality to this recipe.

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Classic Smoked Salmon
225 g salmon filet
1/2 tbsp lapsang souchong
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
fresh dill
salt & pepper

1. Set Nomiku bath to 50 C.
2. In a food safe zip bag add salmon, tea, coriander, mustard, dill and salt & pepper to taste. Remove air from bag.
3. Once desired temperature has been reached, place bag in a water bath for 18-20 min.
4. Remove from Nomiku bath and place in an ice-bath for 2-5 min.
5. Serve with poached egg, bagels or toast, and cream cheese with chives, dill and capers.

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BC-style smoked salmon
225 g salmon filet
1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tbsp lapsang souchong
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
fresh dill
salt & pepper

1. Set Nomiku bath to 50 C.
2. In a food safe zip bag add salmon, maple syrup, tea, mustard, dill and salt & pepper to taste. Remove air from bag.
3. Once desired temperature has been reached, place bag in a water bath for 18-20 min.
4. Remove from Nomiku bath and place in an ice-bath for 2-5 min.
5. Serve with poached egg, bagels or toast, and cream cheese with chives, dill and capers.

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Introducing solid food & sous-vide cooking

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IMG_1605When my baby reached the 6-month mark she was showing all the tell tale signs (sitting up, showing interest in food, smacking lips…) that she was ready to start eating something other than breast milk. We were so excited to start introducing solid food and we were keen on making all her food at home.

With the help of our doctor, we developed an effective strategy for food introduction. Here are a few of the guidelines/tips that helped us in our journey.

Stage 1. Introducing solids one at a time, 2-3 days in a row
This point is pretty self explanatory, we would introduce one veggie at a time and she would eat this veggie for 2-3 days in a row during the first month.

Depending on the country where you live, there will be different suggestions on what to start with (ex. some suggest to start with baby cereal only, while others advise to start with veggies and introduce cereal a few days later). Remember to follow the guidelines set by your baby’s physician.

Here is a list of some great starter foods:
-Chayotes
-Carrots
-Apples
-Bananas
-Sweet potatoes
-Squash
-Peas and green beans
-Zucchini

Our doctor recommended to start with veggies first and then work our way up to fruit to get her palate used to veggies (since babies tend to prefer fruits over vegetables).

Preparing food
Whether BLW or pureeing, the following approach is very helpful to prepare and store baby food. We found our Nomiku super handy for preparing our baby food. This cooking method allows you to cook different veggies at the same time, and is super efficient in terms of portioning and storage because you can store food in the same container you use to cook it.

1. Get a good selection of fresh (if you can) organic fruit/vegetables.
2. Clean them thoroughly.
3. Cut into small bite sized pieces (you can cut into slightly larger pieces if pureeing).
4. Place food in a 500 ml mason jar, add about 150 ml of water, close lid and place in water bath we found that 90 C for 15-20 min works great for most veggies.
OR
Place food in a food safe bag, displace air and place in water bath.

Soft fruits and veggies (i.e. zucchini, apples, etc) will require about 10-15 min, while harder food (like carrots) will take about 20-25min.

5. Once cooked, remove desired serving quantity along with some cooking water, puree and serve once cooled to about body temp. My mom found these nifty little jars where you can replace the lid with the blade of your blender, blend the food, and then store it.

Storage
If saving prepared food for later use, here are two methods we found useful.

Method 1.
Puree all the sous-vide food, place in an ice bath, then store in the fridge for up to 3 days or freezer for up to a month. Before serving, remove a portion from the container and heat it in a bain marie until it reaches about 36C.

Method 2.
Place sous-vide food (whether in a mason jar or in food safe bag) in an ice-bath for a few minutes until it has cooled. In a mason jar this will create a vacuum seal which will help the food stay fresh. Foods cooked (and stored) in food-safe bags are already in vacuum so they will remain fresh. Place in refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for upto 1 month. Before serving, portion out desired amount, puree (optional) and heat over bain marie.

Stage 2. Mixing it up
Now that you know what your baby likes (and dislikes), it’s time to mix it up! Pair popular veggies with not so popular ones. For example in our case, chayotes and carrots were instant hits, while zucchini not so much, so we paired them in a 2:1:1 ratio and she loved it!

In this stage you can start adding some legumes, grains and meats. Try getting your baby used to flavour combinations you use at home and try to use veggies from different color families to make sure she is getting a variety of vitamins and minerals.

Remember be patient and positive, but most of all have fun!!

If you’re interested in sous-vide cooking at home head over to Nomiku their blog is full of awesome recipes, you can also head to bagsoakeat for recipes and reference values. For more info on baby food and parenting Mama Natural is a super useful resource.

Do you have any helpful tips about baby food? Please share below!

Best Mtl food moments 2014

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IMG_0389A round up of our favorite Montreal food moments of 2014. Let me know if you agree!

Best Brunch

H4C
538 Place St. Henri
514-316-7234

Passé compose
950 rue Roy Est
514-524-6663

The sparrow & the Cardinal tea room
Sparrow: 5322 rue Saint Laurent 514-507-1642
Cardinal: 5326 rue Saint Laurent 514-903-2877

For more on MTL brunches click here

Best coffee: latte at Cafe myriade and latte freddo at Café Olimpico

Cafe Myriade II: 251 rue Saint-Viateur Ouest 514 507-4092
Cafe Olimpico:124 Saint-Viateur Ouest 514 495-0746

Best pastry: croissants at la bête à pain & canelés at Patrice patissier

La bête à pain: 114 Fleury Ouest 514 507 7109
Patrice patissier: 2360 rue Notre-Dame Ouest 514 439 5434

Best treats: mini pies at Rustique
4615 rue Notre-Dame Ouest
514-439-5970

Best dessert: Le vert at Patrice patissier
2360 rue Notre-Dame Ouest
514 439 5434

Le vert : apple, pistachio, olive oil, creamy yogurt, cilantro

Le vert : apple, pistachio, olive oil, creamy yogurt, cilantro

Best veggie dish: celeriac bagna cauda at Vin et papillon
2519 rue Notre-Dame Ouest
no reservations

Celeri root bagna cauda

Celeri root bagna cauda

Best soup

Bum bo hue (Saturday special spicy soup) at Pho Bang New York and White onion soup at 400 coups
Pho Bang New York: 1001 Boulevard Saitn Laurent 514-954-2032
400 coups: 400 Notre-Dame East 514-985-0400

Best summer outing: Picnic at Parc de la Petite-Italie from dinette triple crown
6704 rue Clark
514-272-2617

Best sandwiches: poached egg on your face at olive & gurmando, Friday fish
burger at depanneur le pick up and cajun chicken sandwich patisserie & Boulangerie Clark

Depanneur le pick up

Depanneur le pick up

Olive&Gourmando: 351 Saint Paul Ouest 514-350-1083
Depanneur le Pick Up: 7032 Rue Waverly 514-271-8011
Patisserie & Boulangerie Clark: 29 Rue Saint Viateur Ouest 514-276-7827

Best burger: nouveau palais
281 Bernard Ouest
514 273 1180
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Best service Because great service goes a long way!

Impasto
48 Rue Dante
514 508-6508

400 coups
400 Notre-Dame East
514-985-0400

Vin et papillon
2519 rue Notre-Dame Ouest
no reservations

Best pizza: pizzeria Gema
6827 Saint Dominique Street
514-419-4448

 

Best ethnic meal:
stuffed lamb Boucherie abou Abed (need to order in advance – kharouf mahshi)
11495 Boulevard Gouin Ouest, Pierrefonds, QC
514 685-2362

La Khaima
142 Avenue Fairmount Ouest
514-948-9993
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Best Lunch: Impasto
48 Rue Dante
514 508-6508

 

What were some of your favourite Mtl food moments? This was definitely mine!/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/670/29414279/files/2015/01/img_0859.jpg