One thing that I love about what I do, is everyday is different.
Tuesday evenings are a family cooking class. A young hip mom Tracey, her dear friend who is Uncle Paz to her beautiful twins daughters Ava & Emma (they are 8). A few weeks ago, we decided that with Valentines Day approaching, it might be fun to do some desserts and work with chocolate.
We made a very traditional Crème Brule, a Raspberry Mousse, and Chocolate Covered fruits. The girls love the mousse and there was the traditional licking of the utensils.
I am not sure what was more sublime the deserts or the looks on the little girls faces with their eyes rolling back in their heads with pleasure tasting the raspberry mousse and chocolate.
These desserts are easy and give a bit of a “Wow” factor to any dinner party.
Stay tuned … I will post recipes soon.
‘Twas the month after Christmas, and all through the house
May family & friends fill your homes with peace, love & laughter this holiday season.
|Beets, cranberries, carrots, celeriac, mushrooms, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, squash, French shallots, spinach, onions, parsnips, pear, leek, potato, potatoes, rutabaga, Jerusalem artichoke||Beets, carrots, celeriac, mushrooms, cabbage, squash, French shallots, endive, onions, parsnips, pear, leek, potato, potatoes, rhubarb, rutabaga, Jerusalem artichoke||Beets, carrots, celeriac, mushrooms, cabbage, squash, French shallots, endive, onions, pear, leek, potato, potatoes, rhubarb, rutabaga, Jerusalem artichoke|
- 5 Egg Yolks
- 1 Cup Sugar
- ½ Cup Grand Marnier, Cointreau or Kirsch
- 1 Cup Whipped Cream
Beat yolks until creamy. Add sugar in slowly beating until smooth. Add liquor and cook over heat in a double boiler.
Fold in whipped cream (already whipped.)
Serve with fresh seasonal berries or fruit.
This is lovely served in a glass one layer fruit, one layer sauce & repeat garnish with fresh mint sprig or berry or fruit used.
Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May”) is a celebration held on May 5.
The holiday is called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (English: The Day of the Battle of Puebla). It originated with Mexican-American communities in the American West as a way to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War, and today the date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. (Wikipedia 2013).
For me, Cinco De Mayo is an independence of the oncoming summer; a time for when we can be free of ourselves from the layers of winter; and express ourselves, with all of the beauties of spring, and summer to come. The 24th of May is Canada’s official summer time!
Let’s celebrate Cinco De Mayo! Let’s celebrate early!
The cake heat burns deliciously on my tongue and on the roof of my mouth. The US may have called independence but Mexico will always be apart of earth. In this world political boundaries are not important.
Diablo Chocolate Cake with Chilies
Chocolate Ganache And Rock Salt.
Makes one 9-by-9-inch square cake, 12 generous pieces
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 ounces plain, vanilla, or chocolate yogurt (thicker Greek-style preferred, do not use diet, fat-free or light yogurt; sour cream may be substituted)
- 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup brewed coffee, room temperature or warm
- 1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 1 Tablespoon of Chipotle pepper (processed in food blender with coffee liquid)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
- Himalayan pink sea salt
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 9-by-9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking or grease and flour a 10-inch round cake pan; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl combine egg, sugar, yogurt, oil, vanilla, and whisk until smooth and combined. Add coffee, cocoa powder (I use Callebaut). Whisk vigorously until batter is smooth and free from lumps. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and whisk vigorously until batter has just combined, about 1 minute. Note about processing chipotle with coffee; blend in food processor or blender until smooth . Together, they bring out and enhance the flavor of the cocoa powder and adds depth of flavor; The coffee can be any temperature other than piping hot; you don’t want to scramble the egg. Pour batter, which is a loose and fairly runny batter, into prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes, or until top has set and a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in pan completely, at least 30 minutes, before adding ganache or frosting the cake, or before slicing and serving. Unfrosted cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or store frosted cake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- 9 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (about 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips)
- 3/4 cup whipped cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or optionally use 1 to 2 tablespoons of one of these; rum, bourbon, coffee, orange, raspberry or chocolate-flavored liqueur)
Place chocolate in a double boiler and heat to soften chocolate; set aside. In a small microwave-safe bowl heat the cream (I use whipping cream) for about a minute. Pour hot cream over chocolate and let it stand about 1 minute. Whisk vigorously until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth and velvety. Add vanilla or optional flavorings and stir to combine. Set bowl aside for about 10 minutes, allowing ganache to cool and thicken a bit.
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
Whisk mixture briefly before pouring all of it over the cake. Lightly smooth and spread the ganache with a spatula or offset knife. Allow ganache to set up for at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving the cake; or speed this process up by placing pan in the refrigerator or freezer briefly.
This is sublime served with port or better yet a chocolate port!
Here is the fourth and final juicing recipe for my juicing challenge! Note: If you refrigerate your fruit and vegetables, the juice will be cold!
- 2 blood oranges (peeled)
- 2 ruby grapefruit (peeled)
- 4 stalks of celery
- 3 limes
- 14 oz can organic coconut milk
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
Put the spices into the container before you start juicing, then juice all the remaining ingredients and mix in the coconut milk. Add a few ice cubes as this is most refreshing cold.
Here is the third juicing recipe for my juicing challenge! Note: Drink immediately, as the enzymes are most active and live in FRESH juices, which is why juicing is so beneficial.
- ½ fresh pineapple
- 2 oranges peeled
- 10 strawberries fresh or frozen
- 1 Cup of coconut water
- 1 Cup of coconut milk (to make it more like a smoothie)
- Water (you can never go wrong with good ol’ H2O!)
Add a handful of fresh mint 10 -15 sprigs
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. turmeric
Good to know
Mint is a natural breath & body odor regulator as well as a good digestive aid
Cinnamon regulates blood sugar levels
Turmeric is a natural anti- inflammatory
To continue with my new ‘juicing’ series to contribute to all of the cleansing and healthy eating resolution since spring break bathing suit season is looming, here is the second juice recipe!
Apple Ginger, Celery with Diakon & Spinach Juice
- 2 crispy apples (I love galas)
- 1 bunch spinach
- 4 or 5 stalks of celery
- ½ Diakon peeled
- 4 oz. of ginger
Wash thoroughly and juice away. The apple and ginger really mellow the spinach. Diakon is an Oriental radish. One of its healthy attributes it boasts is being a blood purifier. It also contains the enzyme myrosinase, which is a defense enzyme that lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Fresh juices should always be consumed immediately as the enzymes are active for only ½ hour.
Even though the holidays have been over for more than a month, some of us may still be feeling the aftershock of cookies, second helpings of our favorites, and over-consumption of grape juice (aka, wine). Since it only happens once a year, I always decide to indulge over the holidays. I’m one to eat more, exercise less, and disregard counting calories, and I do so without feeling guilty! Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and spring break bathing suit season is looming. Little voices buried deep in the under-layers of our winter weight usually persuade us in some form or another to cleanse, or watch what we are eating. My personal favorite (to answer to those little voices) is cleansing with juice.
So I am launching a juicing contest! For the next four weeks on Wednesdays, I will be posting a new juicing recipe for you to try as a mid-week pick me up.
I would love to see you pull out your juicer (I’ve had one for years and bought it for only $70.00) and make the juice recipes that I post! Afterwards, I want your to share how it tastes, what you liked or didn’t like, and how you feel after drinking the juice!
Also, you have a chance to…
WIN A JUICER!
Note: The contest starts on Wednesday, February 6th and will end on Wednesday, February 27th. The winner will be chosen on the morning of Thursday, February 28th.
We will cover postage costs for the lucky winner in Canada or the USA. Global entries welcome<
Are you up for the challenge? Well, if you are…ready, set, JUICE!
Here is the recipe for week #1
Kale Green Juice
Of all green leafy vegetables, kale is the most nutritionally dense.Try to buy organic if possible.
Wash all vegetables thoroughly. Cut into pieces to fit in your juicer and juice away. Add 1 Tsp. of turmeric. Add sea salt to taste. Drink immediately.
- 3 carrots
- 1 apple
- 3-4 celery stalks
- 7 leaves kale ( remove woody stems)
- sea salt (to taste)
- 1/2 tsp. tumeric
As we wrap up our blog series on weddings, we’re happy to proclaim the Urban Wedding Show a smashing success. The size of the venue gave the event an intimate feel, and gave us a chance to really talk to people. We met lots of brides-to-be, grooms-to-be (who sacrificed a day of football-watching to show up for their lady), and lots of bridesmaids-to-be (who ran the gamut of emotions.)
Our display turned out beautifully: filled with food, flowers and the attention to detail that I thrive on.
Most importantly, we got to meet many couples seeking a tailored catering function for their wedding or pre-wedding. That led to lots of flamboyant conversation as we brainstormed some fantastic ideas. It was exciting, and I look forward to these great events. Thanks to all who visited!
Chocolate Covered Grapes Dusted with Gold
These are wonderful on their own or lovely as garnishes on other desserts.
Gold is considered non-toxic in its metallic form because it resists reacting to any chemical process in our bodies. It has no flavour or nutritional value, and passes through our body unaltered! 22 karat gold flakes are available at specialty food stores and cost around $18- per vial. USE ONLY EDIBLE GOLD.
Makes approx. 18 clusters.
1 cup firm seedless grapes (thoroughly washed and dried)
2 ounces high quality chocolate (we like Callebaut dark chocolate blocks)
Edible gold dust
Remove grapes from stems, wash and dry completely or the chocolate will react with water and harden (‘seize’) so the dipping process won’t work.
Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler.
Once fully melted, remove chocolate from heat.
Add grapes into the chocolate, using a spatula to coat them gently but thoroughly.
Use a fork to gently lift grapes out of chocolate and allow excess chocolate to drain off. Be careful not to puncture the grapes.
Place grapes in groupings of 3 so, when set, they form single clusters. Leave space between the clusters. Repeat until all the grapes are finished. Work quickly so that the chocolate doesn’t set.
Sprinkle the clusters with the edible gold flakes before the chocolate sets. Note: shut off fans while using the gold flakes to avoid any gold dust getting into the air.
Refrigerate for 20 minutes or more.
They will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Food and Love are Always in Vogue…
“Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”
- Harriet Van Horne, Vogue magazine 10/1956
More proof that food and love will never go out of style.
Summer Weddings - Chef Laura Style
Hopefully the recent, brief summer offered you some down-time: weekend getaways, time on the water for swimming, fishing, boating or floating, casual barbeques, and some good old-fashioned time in the sun. As always, our wish is that this was shared with family, friends and lots of great food!
For us, the end of the summer spells the end of busy ‘Wedding Season.’
At Chef Laura, we love coordinating and catering weddings, uniting our expertise of food with that of celebration. Food is a bonding element for people, and we love manifesting good taste on this most special of days. Whatever the season or theme, love and food is a match made in heaven and I’m enamored by the sustenance that both offer.
Some of my favorite memories of this wedding season include:
- Setting up an old-fashioned lemonade stand, on the hottest day of the year. Our icy lemonade, filled with mint and limes, was labeled with Scrabble letters.
- The familiar, rewarding sight of hungry guests happily loading their plates, loosening their ties, doffing their heels and coming back for seconds at the buffet.
- Packaging leftovers for the family (allowing me to steal a few moments with the people closest to the bride & groom.)
- Chocolate-covered grapes dusted with gold glimmering on the dessert table beside seasonal berries, lemon bars and raspberry tortes.
- A homey backyard rehearsal dinner echoing with the comforts of home.
- An English garden set in the middle of a west coast forest; its scents mingling with the aroma of chicken, ribs and fresh vegetables grilling on the barbeque.
We now turn our focus to the harvest season which brings with it, ironically, the beginning of ‘Pre-Wedding Season’! It also heralds preparations for autumn harvest weddings among colorful foliage, and white winter wonderland ceremonies.
No matter the time or place of a wedding, one thing is constant: love. Love has no season, it happens everywhere, all the time. To those who have met their match: congratulations. We wish for you to love, live and eat happily ever after.
PS: We are thrilled to be part of the fabulous Urban Wedding Show at the River Rock Nov. 4! http://urbanweddingshow.com/ Come by to say hello and share your thoughts on food and love.
See you there!
Spring means rhubarb! I came up with this recipe to showcase it’s rich tangy flavour.
- 3 cups (300g) chopped rhubarb
- 2 Tbsp (30g) grated fresh ginger
- 1/3 cup (75 ml) plus 2 Tbsp (30g) brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp (45 ml) butter
- 3/4 cup crushed gingersnaps
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) whipping cream
- 1/2 cup marscarpone cream ( room temperature)
- A few drops of vanilla
In a medium saucepan, cook rhubarb, ginger and 1/3 cup (75ml) sugar over low to medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until rhubarb has softened. Cool.
Melt butter in shallow pan and stir in the ginger snaps. Cook over low heat for a few minutes until crumbs are coated with butter.
In a small bowl, mix cream, remaining sugar and vanilla together.
Whip until soft peaks form.
Put 1/3 of rhubarb in a serving bowl ( or individual dishes) Cover with 1/3 of gingersnaps and top with 1/3 of cream mixture. Repeat until all ingredients are used. The cream mixture should be on top.
Refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Serve chilled.
Vancouver’s Urban Farmers
It’s Spring…and everyone’s attention is turning to the beautiful outdoors. I always look forward to this time of year, especially the opening of the local farmers markets across the city. I recently came across a great video that was done by CNN showcasing Vancouver called: “Vancouver’s Urban Farmers“.
It shows the kind of farming that can be done on what is considered ‘unusable‘ land in a large city such as Vancouver.
Eating locally grown food in season is one of the best ways to stay healthy. I try to do this as someone who loves food, and I try to do this for every one of my clients.
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Food and love are infinitely connected on this day. Feeding someone, or being fed by someone, is a truly romantic way to celebrate.
We have crafted a few menus that will show the one you love that a quiet evening eating food specially chosen for them is a wonderful way to celebrate being together.
Here are a few dishes that are sure to set the mood…
Rack of pork with a spiced rhubarb chutney,served on a bed of angel hair pasta with a squash-rose sauce
Portabelini mushrooms stuffed with artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes
Pistachio crusted rack of lamb served with risotto Milanese
Flour-less chocolate cake with gold dusted chocolate covered grapes
Roasted organic duck breast stuffed with prosciutto and fig, glazed with kumquat compote
We would love to be a part of your Valentine’s Day…please contact us.
Planning a wedding is such a special joy! Making sure your day is a phenomenal success is like conducting a symphony, ensuring each individual element is timed to resonate at precisely the right moment. The joy of planning includes knowing that intricate details will play out with beautiful perfection on your special day.
Expressing your vision is more than just words, it is about essence. Food creates mood and there is a special kind of alchemy involved in translating your wishes about flavour, texture, colour and style into a menu that stimulates the senses and is celebratory, memorable.
We are now booking for the 2012 wedding season. I would love to hear from you! Please visit my Testimonials page to read more.
I am thrilled to be launching my business in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics. This is such an exciting time, full of celebration and all the things that I love. I can’t keep from getting caught up in the excitement.
In the coming weeks and months I am planning to add some of my favourite recipes complete with tips and suggestions. Check back regularly or subscribe to the RSS feed (click on orange ‘subscribe’ button on top right) so you can automatically receive updates.
Please join me in sending all the Olympic athletes and especially our Canadian athletes our very best wishes as they go for the gold! Warmest regards now and always! ~ Laura
With the passing of the holiday season and beginning of a new year and decade, comes that oh so familiar tradition of resolve and resolution. For many, the new year has us striving for healthier bodies, minds and relationships.
“It’s complicated,” at least according to the latest Hollywood movie and the popular Facebook relationship catch phrase, however, I prefer to take the road less traveled of “it should be simple and /or easy.” We as people, as a society, need to learn to let go and as we do really let go, things pass, and new opportunities present themselves.
As the calendar flips, I too resolve to take more care …. exercise & stretch more frequently, drink more water, drive less and walk more, work smarter and not harder, eat more raw foods and less sugar ( I love desserts), and be more conscious and thankful for all that I have.
I also want to simplify my life. The more complex my life gets, the more simple my desires are and that which comforts me. Food comforts me and I am always drawn to a gathering of family & friends with food and wine being front and center. The Christmas season was exactly that for me. Large dinners with family and friends were a kitchen collaboration of pure joy. Cooking food is a form of sharing happiness. Eating is clearly more than just a response to hunger.
I’m really excited about sharing my passion for food, eating and living. I would love to hear from you! ~ Laura
From the time that I was very little I enjoyed being in the kitchen. My earliest and fondest memories were of my parents, both of whom are excellent cooks, preparing delicious food for our family celebrations (being part Italian we had lots of them!)
It was a great thrill for me when on Jan 2, I visited my son in Montreal, at Bistro Cocagne where he has been working for the past 14 months. He is following in my footsteps – pursuing the art of cooking fine cuisine. His chef, Alexandre Loiseau, is quite obviously a master at his craft, for the simplicity yet intensity of his dishes. Bistro Cocagne features a seasonal menu with a focus on local products.
It was an indescribable thrill to have my son prepare and serve a six course tasting menu he made specially for me. When he came home later that night he methodically went over the details with me, inquiring as to whether both timing and quality had been up to the perfection he was striving for. They had been.
For me, this was the best gift that I was given over the holidays: seeing how the fruits of my labor had produced this incredible individual who is so particular, passionate, and crazy about what he does.
The love of good food has been tried, tested and passed on to yet another generation. Quite simply, for me, this was the most elating way to begin a brand new decade! ~ Laura