Monthly Archives: July 2010

The Mitraillette makes an encore appearance

You were recently introduced to something I can only refer to as a monstrosity of a sandwich that is known to the country of Belgium as a mitraillette.

Simply put, the mitraillette was great. How great you ask, well, you know how sometimes you eat something and keep thinking about it? Well, since I’m not going to Brussels anytime soon, I was left to re-create it on my own, but I wanted to change it up a bit.

Homemade mitraillette

So let’s review the basics, I needed to come up with the following to make this happen.

  • Friends  – Thanks to Erin, Supriya, Cody (the dog) and Darwin (the cat) for allowing me to cook in their kitchen and eating this thing with me (well Cody and Darwin didn’t, although, I think Cody wanted to try) so I didn’t feel guilty eating a mitraillette by myself.
  • Baguette – The baguette was easy, we chose whole wheat to lessen the guilt just a little bit.
  • Meat – I had gone with the hamburger option in Brussels, but this time, we opted for an Italian spicy sausage.
  • French fries – Without access to a deep fryer and not wanting to stand in front of a pot of boiling oil, we were all in agreement that some baked sweet potato fries would be perfect.
  • Veggies – If nothing else, the veggies were a way to justify the eating of this sandwich. We went with caramelized onions.
  • Some type of sauce – More on my somewhat failed attempt at cheese sauce below.

All the fixin's

Recipe/Instructions

Sweet Potatoes

  • Wash four (4) sweet potatoes (awesome job on the washing Supriya!) and cut them into french fries form and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Lay them flat on a baking sheet and drizzle some olive oil over them and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes and then turn them with a spatula and let bake for another 10-15 minutes. Toss a little salt over the fries when they come out of the oven.
  • Ours did not come out as crispy as I had hoped, so next time, I’d leave them in a little longer.

Sausage

  • Slice the sausage lengthwise and place into a hot skillet with some oil. You can figure out the rest, right?

Onions

  • Slice an onion (try not to tear up) and place them in a hot skillet with oil and toss in some salt and pepper.
  • Don’t worry if the skillet is overflowing with onions, give it time and they will reduce into deliciousness.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and continue to stir them as they get softer and translucent, about 20 minutes, be patient.
  • After a while, the sugar in the onion will  caramelize and get dark, that’s what you’re looking for!

Assembled and ready to eat!

Cheese Sauce

  • Soooo, I’ve never made a cheese sauce before and after trying to make one, I’m still not sure I’ve actually made a proper cheese sauce. No, correction, I know for a fact it was not a proper cheese sauce. It had all the makings though, milk, flour, butter, swiss cheese and it tasted good, it was just a bit on the runny side.  I was missing some measuring spoons and a little patience. I’m going to work on that one again and I’ll likely have a post devoted to a kick-ass cheese sauce sometime soon!

Assembly

  • The fun part – After slicing the baguette and toasting it under the broiler, we threw on some sausage (slicing them lengthwise meant they could lay nice and flat on the baguette), some caramelized onions, a mound of sweet potato fries and a smothering of cheese sauce.
  • It was a two-hander for sure and it absolutely satisfied my craving.
  • It’s a sandwich that is definitely a meal all by itself.
  • It’s fun to prepare and can totally involve everyone helping out in the kitchen.

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Filed under Baguette, Belgium, Caramelized onions, Cheese Sauce, Friends, Mitraillette, Sausage, Sweet Potato Fries

Homemade blueberry waffles. Family time. Gold. A lot of dog

It was family time this past weekend in Ottawa. My family consists of my sister (who lives in Ottawa with her husband and their dog Diego), my parents who live in London with their dog Harley (London, Ontario, not the other London which would be a far more difficult drive) and me who is without a fixed address these days but was in Montreal, so it was a short drive to Ottawa.

What did we do? Well, since you asked, we did some touristy things in Ottawa.

Pictures aren’t allowed in the Royal Canadian Mint…except for the ultimate tease of being able to hold a gold brick worth $500,000. The girl “protecting” the brick seemed amused. I can’t be the first one she’s seen do this? Am I really that original?

It's real...

We went to the ByWard Market on Saturday and picked up a bunch of fresh and amazing looking things.

Wild Blueberries everywhere

With wild blueberries on the brain, my sister suggested Sunday morning waffles and I was only to happy to help out and try to not get in her way. Although, I did the measuring, so if the waffles failed, it was apparently going to be my fault.

We went all fancy with the KitchenAid mixer, but the recipe does say you can just mix. So if you don’t have a mixer (like me), you’ll get a good arm workout.

If you got it, use it

Meet the Sunbeam waffle maker. It belonged to my grandmother and she bought it in the 1940’s. According to my dad, knowing his mother, it would have been the top of the line. A 70-year-old waffle maker still kickin’ hard, they really don’t make them like they used to, huh?!

Waffle magic

So, they take about 5-ish minutes to cook, so I had some free time. Meet Diego (white) and Harley (black)

Poodles galore

No words, just admiration for wild blueberry homemade waffles.

The combination of buckwheat and kamut makes for great taste and perfect texture. I guess I measured well. I’m pretty talented.

Wild blueberry waffles

Oh and I couldn’t help myself again. And Harley is not asleep in his bowl, he has just figured out the most amazing way to eat!

More poodles

Recipe

Whole Grain Waffles taken from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Water

In a large bowl, measure and mix together:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (We used 1 cup buckwheat)
  • 1 cup mixed-whole grain flours (We used 1 cup kamut)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

In a large measuring cup, measure:

  • 2 cups buttermilk

Whisk in thoroughly:

  • 3 eggs

Pour the buttermilk and egg mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.

Pour in:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick)  butter, melted

and stir until well mixed. If necessary, thin with more buttermilk: the batter should pour off the spoon. Cook in a preheated waffle iron until crisp and golden.

Variation (which is what we did)

To make waffles with regular milk, increase the baking powder to 2 1/2 teaspoons and omit the baking soda.

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Filed under Blueberries, Poodles, Waffles

Belgian Waffles are Serious Waffles

So when I last wrote, I was trying to be cutesy while being totally obvious in my attempt to justify eating a monstrosity of a sandwich that the folks in Belgium call a mitraillette. Whereas the mitraillette was a pleasant surprise that I had never heard of, I knew full well that I’d be tackling something synonymous with Belgium, that being their decadent Belgian Waffle. This ain’t no ordinary waffle with a bit of syrup, but rather slathered in chocolate and whipped cream.

This entry is throwing healthy eating entirely out the window, there will be no beating around any type of bush and no sugar coating (well, chocolate coating actually). Roll up your sleeves, this is gonna get messy!

Belgian Waffle

So what do we know about Belgian waffles? Well, after having one, I can tell you that they are lighter, crunchier and not as doughy as we’re accustomed to in North America. They also have extra large pockets/crevices/dimples, which are just perfect for puddles of chocolate to gather in before it then gets doused with whipped cream! Now, at this point, the crunchy factor pretty much disappears as it begins to soak in all the topping-goodness.

Waffles for everyone

My attempt was to eat it with the flimsy little fork and be as classy and neat as one can be when eating a massive waffle with chocolate and whipped cream, but that experiment failed, so I just went all in and picked it up with my hands. I can tell you that it was messy and sticky, but the folks of Belgium sure know their waffles!

Belgium has now ruined Eggo waffles for me!

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Filed under Belgian Waffles, Belgium, Waffle

Baguette, meat, fries and sauce = Mitraillette

Sometimes you eat things that MAY not be good for you and sometimes you eat things that are 100% ABSOLUTELY NOT good for you, but it’s so good that you don’t care. I discovered something called a “Mitraillette” in Brussels a couple of months ago. Let’s play a game and guess which category the mitraillette falls into? I’ll give you some hints…

Mitraillette

The word “Mitraillette” is French and translates into a “submachine gun”, so we’re not talking small or flimsy.

Still not sure…ok, the next few hints might help…

It is served on a French baguette

On the baguette there is some type of meat, either, hamburger (which I had), sausage or steak.

You have a question, don’t you?  How does one (1) round hamburger get placed on a long French baguette? Well, who said it’s one hamburger, it’s actually three patties side by side by side.

Need another hint?

Ok, so on top of the meat, which is on top of the baguette are french fries. But these are not ordinary fries, they are Belgian twice fried french fries. Oh, yea, there’s a fork in the picture. Well, it’s impossible to close the sandwich with that many fries, so the fries get eaten until the mitraillette can actually be picked up.

So much of everything!

You’ve guessed it by now, haven’t you? Well, just in case, I have one more hint for you.

On top of the crispy fries, which is on top of the meat, which is on top of the baguette is any number of condiments or sauces. Take your pick, mayo, ketchup, bernaise sauce, cheese sauce.

You knew as soon as you saw the picture, didn’t you? Well, thanks for humoring me!

A few questions that I’m sure you’re asking yourselves…

You – Is it good?

Me – OMG good!

You – Isn’t it a lot for one person to eat?

Me – Yes, yes it is, but I managed to accomplish it.

You -Was I hungry for the rest of the day?

Me – No, not at all!

You – Was there a small piece of fried onion sticking out from under the hamburger and fries?

Me – Of course, need my veggies!

You -Do you want one right now?

Me – Yes, I do and I think I may just document it when I try to re-create the magic of the mitraillette in the kitchen.

You – Will I write about it again?

Me – Yes

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Filed under Brussels, Hamburger, Mitraillette

Canada Day Clafoutis

Clafoutis, it’s French, it’s delicious and it sounds mysterious, but the good news is that it’s not as daunting as the name would suggest. So what is it, well, for starters it is pronounced klah-foo-tee and it’s a baked cherry custard that my sister prepared when I visited Ottawa over the Canada Day weekend.

The unusual thing about the clafoutis is that you leave the pits in the cherries. The pits add to the flavor when its baking. More on this and my burnt tongue later.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the process since I was “busy” playing soccer while it was being made.

Clafoutis

Enjoying some sun and clafoutis on a sunny afternoon.

Clafoutis

Clafoutis – Baked Cherry Custard

Recipe from France: The Beautiful Cookbook

  • 1 1/2 pounds (750g) ripe black cherries, not pitted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup (4oz/125g) sugar
  • 2 1/2 oz (75g) butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup (2 1/2 oz/75g) all purpose (plain) flour
  • 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) milk
  • Vanilla sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Wash, dry and stem the cherries.

Butter an overproof china or glazed earthenware mold large enough to hold the cherries in a single layer. Place the cherries in it. Combine the eggs and yolk in a bowl, add the sugar and whisk until the mixture is pale in color. Whisk in the butter. Sift in the flour and mix well, then mix in the milk. Continue beating until the batter is smooth, then pour over the cherries.

Bake for 40 minutes or until browned. Remove the clafoutis from the oven and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Serve lukewarm,  from the baking dish.

The recipe says it serves 6, but we were about 10 and everyone got a good sized piece, even though a second slice would have been nice!

My sister has made this before, so I asked for some additional tips to help out a novice Clafoutis-er. (I think that makes sense, maybe not?)

1 – Butter the pan very well.

2 – Her personal preference is to not sprinkle sugar on top. Why? She just thinks it’s unnecessary.

3 – Use vanilla sugar (like the recipe calls for)

4 – Let is cool for about 30-40 minutes, the pits are hot! My poor tongue can vouch for that. Not that I have done this, but it was like putting a stone in my mouth that had been sitting in a fire for days!

5 – It doesn’t have to be just cherries, it’s also great with cranberries in the fall and peaches when they’re in season.

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Filed under Canada Day, Cherries, Clafoutis, Ottawa

My Day with Mona Lisa in Paris

Day 1 of Paris was a self-proclaimed success after many sights were seen, tons of photos taken and a ridiculous amount of pavement being pounded.

With some continued “joie de vivre” in my step, I set out for my second day in Paris beginning with the Louvre. It was a beautiful day and the pyramid was glistening, it was going to be a good day.

The Louvre

As I confessed in my last entry, I can barely stay inside the lines when I color and my knowledge of art is pretty much on the same level. So needless to say, I made good use of the plaques explaining what I was looking at.  I’m going to assume that everybody knows more about what’s in the Louvre than I do!

The pictures shall speak for themselves…

Victoire

OMG what are the chances that other people had the same idea of checking out the Mona Lisa!?

Mona Lisa is somewhere back there...

I apologize for the close-up of myself, but I was so happy to find a nice stranger who actually took the time to take a proper shot. It was neat (do people still say neat?) to see the Mona Lisa, but I felt that the hype didn’t match the actuality of seeing it.

Me and Mona

Surrounded by all this art, I felt inspiration. I failed, I know.

My attempt at creativity

I must have walked for an hour surrounded by everything Egyptian and didn’t even see a 1/4 of what was there.

Egyptian exhibit

A massive and I mean massive statue of an Egyptian Pharaoh that didn’t quite make it back in one piece. If I read the plaque correctly, the statue measured 10 metres and weighed about 2.6 tons.

Egyptian Pharaoh

I guess when you’re 10 metres tall, you better be able to find big shoes!

Pharaoh's feet

Venus de Milo and almost a perfect shot!

Venus de Milo

Ahh, that’s better.

Venus de Milo

After filling up my art quota and still having a bunch of things to check out in Paris, I made my way towards my next destination. At least I know i’m on the right street to get to the Arc de Triomphe.

Avenue des Champs-Elysées

My touristy pictures continue, this time in front of the Arc de Triomphe. Thank you random kind husband and wife for taking this picture.

Arc de Triomphe

I could have had anything to eat in Paris and for some reason I had a major craving for Pad Thai. Not the best I’ve ever had but definitely the nicest view while eating it.

Pad Thai

The wandering continued to a funky little square with performers and this fun little photo.

Afternoon wandering

Street crêpes, anyone? If you want to make them yourself, it’s super easy!

Street Crepes

Got my game-face on for one final project before I leave Paris.

Crossing La Seine one more time

In the evening, the Eiffel Tower is lit up and every hour on the hour. There’s also a light show that has it sparkle like a Christmas tree. I made myself a dinner picnic of baguette, cheese and wine. I was just missing someone to share it with…next time!

Eiffel Tower at night

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Filed under Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo

First of many in Paris…

In my ongoing attempt to document my recent European travels, I was last seen enjoying a seriously gluttonous picnic in Lyon. Next stop was Paris, in which I was there for about four days. I amazed even myself with the number of pictures I took, so I’ll do my best to be meticulous in my photo selection, but I am warning you this may turn into a two or three or more part series!

Let’s start with the most obvious choice in Paris. How else do you really feel you’re in Paris, by checking out the Eiffel Tower. It’s tough to gauge how tall and impressive the Eiffel Tower is by photos, but with my limited photography skills, I was trying to set it right into the cloud, as if it was just never-ending.

Tour Eiffel

Fear of heights, need not apply. Off far far far in the distance is the Military Museum of the French Army.

Oh and for those that haven’t been before, it’s faster and less expensive to walk up rather than take the elevator. It’s not a terrible walk, but bring your walking shoes!

Paris from above

Self-timer fun, I have no idea what I was trying to accomplish here, but two seconds later, I saw other people copying it.

Eiffel Tower fun

My next stop was to pay homage to my Master’s Degree in History. Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb is located at L’Hôtel national des Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids). The Residence is made up of a bunch of buildings, including the Military Museum and a hospital and retirement home for French war veterans.

As you would imagine since a complex has been named after him, Napoleon’s Tomb is massive!

Napoleon's Tomb

As someone who has NO business painting or drawing or even able to color within the lines, this was pretty impressive!

Jealousy

Ok, enough with the culture stuff, it’s snack time!

Tastes like candy

With a bit of sustenance, I was able to tackle the Musée d’Orsay which I discovered doesn’t allow pictures to be taken. And to be honest, it was nice to put away the camera for a bit and not feel the need to document everything, very liberating!

Musée d'Orsay

Hmm, looks like Paris may be a handful of entries. I still have La Louvre, restaurants, macarons and a bunch of other random Parisian things to share. A bientôt.

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Filed under Eiffel Tower, Musee d'Orsay, Napoleon, Paris