French Canadian Pea Soup


Living in Quebec, we’ve learned to love many Quebequois foods. One traditional food that can’t be beat on a cold night here in Montreal is French Canadian Pea Soup.

A thick, stick to the ribs soup with huge pieces of smoked ham, you’ll love it!  Even better, this isn’t hard to make …


You’ll want:

  • 2 1/4 cups of yellow split peas (soaked overnight)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup (3-4) chopped carrots
  • 1 kg (approximately) smoked ham WITH the bone in
  • 1L chicken stock (one box is perfect)
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • salt & pepper to taste


Grab your peas that have been soaking in water overnight. If you find all the water has been absorbed at any time, just add a bit more. Keep adding water until you no longer notice it being absorbed by the peas


Pour those peas into a large pot. If there is extra liquid, just pour it all in

If you want to save a step here, you can soak the peas overnight IN the pot you’re going to use. Just make sure you add enough water to get those peas soft.


Add the onion


See, this isn’t hard!


Grab that big ham and cut it into pieces that will fit nicely in the pot. Make sure you have that big ham bone!


Ham bone in the pot!


Add in the rest of the ham


Space it evenly around the pot

Add the thyme

Now, you probably think I’m gonna tell you to add the carrots … I am not!

Carrots added this early will basically become mush by the time this is cooked

Pour stock over top until it’s all pretty much covered and stir


Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat


After about 10 minutes you should see quite a foam being formed by the peas!

Lower the heat to a simmer and let it cook for about an hour, covered

Once the peas have for the most part dissolved and the soup is now thick, time to add the carrots


Pour in the carrots


And stir. Let this simmer covered for about another 20 minutes


With tongs, remove the ham to a separate plate

Cut the meat off of any bones, and cut up your large pieces of ham into pieces that will fit on a spoon


Return the ham to the soup … without the bones!


Okay, this is ready to serve!


Serve along with a sourdough baguette ….


Now, THIS is a meal


Savoury, smokey and thick enough to keep the spoon standing, French Canadian Pea Soup


Bon Apetit!

Pyttipanna (Swedish Hash)


This traditional Swedish comfort food, called Pyttipanna (which I’m pretty sure translates as ‘pieces in the pan’ and is pronounced like pity panna),  may have an exotic sounding name, but as you’ll see it’s all ingredients that are well known and loved!

Great on a cold day, it’s easy to make for dinner or a hearty breakfast!

Let’s see how it’s done


You’ll need:

  • 2lbs diced potatoes
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 3-4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 3-4 sausages (we used bratwurst) chopped
  • 2-4 eggs (one per serving)

Melt some butter in a large skillet on medium heat


Add onions


Add the potatoes

Salt and pepper to taste


Ready to go!

On a low-medium heat, stir until well mixed and then cover. This will allow the potatoes to cook faster


In a separate frying pan, add the bacon


and the sausage


Get the meat cooking!


Check on the potatoes, make sure they aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pan. If they are, you can add a little vegetable oil. Potatoes are done when they’re soft (but not mushy)


Take the meat off the heat and add it to the potatoes

Mix together

Once mixed, spoon individual servings into bowls

Almost done, but one more step!


Go get those eggs!

In the skillet you cooked the meat, fry up one egg for each bowl (sunny side up is best!)

You want the eggs to still have a runny yolk

Place an egg on each serving


Give each person a bowl with an egg


Let them mix it all together




I’m just gonna eat this now … you look at some more pictures!


They you have it, Pyttipanna or Swedish Hash


Great for dinner or a hearty breakfast!


Bon Apetit!


Crème brûlée


The classic French dessert, we’re going to use one last special kitchen item … a blow torch!

In the immortal words of Homer Simpson “fire made it good!”

Okay, so, how’d we do this?


To start, this is what you’ll need:

  • 1 1/4 cups of heavy cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla


Grab a bowl for mixing. This glass bowl is being held in place by a lovely kitchen gadget called The Staybowlizer given to us by our equally lovely friends Tom and Lindsay


Add the yolks to the bowl


Add the sugar to the yolks


Whisk together until smooth


Now, on a stove top, add the cream to a sauce pan


Add the vanilla


and stir.

(Other flavours can be added … heat with some peach leaves for a nice almond taste in your custard … just remember to remove the leaves after heating it up!)


Warm gently on the stove until the mix is now warm but not hot enough that it will cook the eggs

Slowly pour the cream into the mixing bowl, whisking the entire time


This looks properly mixed!


Now you’re going to take the bowl and pour the contents back into the sauce pan

Gentle heating again until the liquid is just reaching the boiling point. You should be able to draw a line on the back of a wooden spoon when it’s ready


Spoon the custard into individual ramekins or bowls


Let the custard set overnight in the refrigerator

Next day, time to make the crust!


You’ll need sugar (we’re using demerara style) and a blow torch


You can get this type of blow torch at most kitchen supply stores. They use butane and are filled like a common butane lighter.


Sprinkle the sugar over the entire top of the chilled custard


Get as much coverage as possible


Using the torch, heat the sugar on top to the point of burning


Don’t panic if you see smoke coming off the sugar

Keep going until all the sugar has been torched


Once it’s cooled, it’s ready to eat!  Crack the hard sugar top with a spoon!

Don’t mind me … just gonna eat this here


So there you have it … Crème brûlée


Bon Apetit!

Duck Breast Sous Vide


Okay, so today going to continue our theme of recipes that require some special equipment in the kitchen. We’re going to be doing Duck Breast Sous Vide.

For many of you, you’re thinking “okay, I’ve heard of this sous vide … it’s that thing that seems to impress the judges on Chopped”. Yes, that’s true … but let’s talk about what sous vide cooking actually is.

Sous vide is French for under vacuum. In this process, the food (usually a protein like steak or duck) is sealed in a food-grade plastic bag, under vacuum (see, that’s where the sous vide comes in!), and placed in a strictly temperature controlled water bath to cook. Why do this?

Okay, let’s look at beef. A steak is rare at a temperature of 52C. So, you want to make sure the internal temperature is 52C. Typically you grill a steak and hope to remove it in time. The heat, having come in from the outside (at a very high temperature) will cook the exterior to a very well done level, only being rare once you get towards the centre. Timing depends on thickness.

Sous vide cooking is what I would call equilibrium  cooking. The water is kept at exactly 52C in this case. The meat, sealed in a bag, is placed in the water. After about an hour, the contents of the bag will have reached the same temperature as the surrounding water. In other words, the meat will be cooked to rare … through out the entire steak, evenly.

Here’s the even cooler part … if you left the steak in there for four hours it would still be perfectly cooked to rare! You can’t overcook in the sous vide method … the meat can never be a higher temperature than the surrounding water, it’s just thermodynamics!

Okay, you probably want to see this at work … so let’s do that most finicky of meats to get right, duck breast!


Here’s the stuff you’ll need for doing this at home. A sous vide vacuum sealer, food grade plastic bags for sealing, a water circulator, a large pot … and of course the duck breast!  (You can also get one piece controlled water baths but a circulator will cost about half as much)

First we prepare the duck breast!


Take your duck, skin side up, and make diagonal slices across the skin


Repeat the process with diagonal slices the other way, to create a diamond pattern


This is going to allow the fat in the skin to render without too much shrinkage

Season normally, with salt, pepper and a bit of thyme


Now, go grab a large sous vide bag. It’s important that you have a bag that was meant for heating the food. A low quality plastic will have chemicals leech into the food during the cooking process.

Place the duck breast into the bag, leaving about six inches from the top


Now, our first piece of special equipment, the sous vide vacuum sealer

The sealer I am using is from Sous Vide Supreme


With the bag laying flat, put the open top under the tabs in the sealer


Press with both hands until you hear a click, then walk back and let the sealer do it’s magic! The machine will stop when the vacuum has been created and the bag heat sealed.


Your duck breast is now ready for the next step!

You can see the bag is tightly sealed … isn’t this cool?


Fill a very large pot (like a stock pot) with water … fill it high, don’t be shy! (yea, I’m gonna claim that rhyme)


This is my water circulator, from SansaireThe combination of a circulator and a large pot is by far the most cost effective method … a one piece heated water bath usually is about double the price. This circulator will heat the water to a specific temperature and keep it at that temperature within 0.1C for as long as I want!

Place the circulator in the water. This one attaches to my pot with a nice metal clip!

When I turn it on, I see the current temperature of the water

Set the temperature to 57C, which is the internal temperature we want for a medium cooked duck breast (it will be wonderfully pink, as duck breast should be!)


The reading will go back to show the current temperature of the water. Once it hits 57C, we’re ready to add the duck!


Place your bag into the water, make sure it’s fully submerged. As there is little air in the bag, it should submerge easily


Now, you let this cook for at least one hour. Remember, the meat will never get to a higher temperature than this, so you can’t overcook it! (If left for many hours, the meat may get very soft … which if you are using a cheaper cut of beef can be good actually).

Don’t panic if the temperature drops 0.2 or 0.3 degrees when you add the cold meat … it will come back up.


After an hour, remove the bag (using tongs, don’t burn your fingers!) from the water

The duck is now perfectly done

Remove the duck from the bag and place on a plate


Okay, it’s done … but that looks kinda gross. Now, here’s the trick!


Heat a frying pan on the stove medium high heat with a little oil. Place the duck, skin side down in the pan


Cook for only about 30 seconds  … just enough to get a crispy golden skin


Flip over and cook other side


Again, like 30 seconds


Now remove them back to the plate


Doesn’t that look better?

Let’s see how they are inside …

Slice the duck breast on a cutting board. In this method, no need to let the meat rest.




Place the meat on a plate


Add some sides like a salad and some mashed potatoes …

This is a method used by many restaurants. It allows for the chef to play a bit with the timing, so your steak is always ready exactly on time with the other dishes. It also allows for less experienced cooks to prepare the steaks, as it doesn’t have such strict timing involved!


There you go, Duck Breast Sous Vide!


Bon Apetit!


Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork & Potato Waffles


Sometimes you just need the right tools to complete a job. This week, we’ll be looking a few recipes that require a unique piece of kitchen equipment.

Today, what I’m going to show you requires a slow-cooker and a waffle iron. It’s spicy, sweet, sour and fun!

Let’s get started looking at the ingredients we’ll need for the pulled pork


You’ll need:

  • 6-8 lb pork tenderloin or shoulder roast (you can make one smaller, just adjust the recipe accordingly)
  • 2 cups bbq sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp prepared mustard
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp dry thyme

Just to make sure we have all our ingredients, let’s look at what we’ll need for the potato waffles


For these you’ll need:

  • 2 cups mashed potatoes (good way to use left overs!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic

Okay, so let’s get that pulled pork going. It will need about 6 hours in the slow-cooker so we want to get started early


Pour some oil to coat the bottom of your slow-cooker


Let’s put that pork in the cooker … this is a lot of raw meat


Pour the barbecue sauce into a bowl


The entire bottle in this case is 2 cups


Add chicken stock


Add cider vinegar

Now add the sugar, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and thyme


Mix this all together well


Set this aside for a moment

Put the chopped onions into the cooker with the pork


Pour the sauce over the pork


All in there? Good!


Now, put the lid on and cook on high 5-6 hours … don’t lift the lid to peek! It lets out the steam and heat and that is how the slow cooker does it’s job!

Now, go do your things … play a video game, read a book, get a waffle iron … whatever you want for the next 5-6 hours

(Internet magic here)


It’s been 5-6 hours, the pork has been simmering this whole time and is ready to be  pulled


I usually just get two forks and pull in opposite directions


Pork should come apart rather easily.


Keep going until there are no longer any large pieces. Make sure to mix it all well with the sauce and juices

Now, let’s make some waffles!


Heat some butter in a hot skillet and add onions

Add the garlic and stir.


Cook until onions are soft and getting transparent


Put your mashed potatoes in a mixing bowl

Add flour and eggs


Empty skillet into the bowl


Ready to mix!

Mix until well blended and it has the consistency of a thick batter

Now, get that waffle iron heated up. Spray the surfaces to make sure nothing sticks!


Spoon mixture onto hot iron, allowing about an inch from the edge


Ready to press!



Close the iron and let it cook for 3-4 minutes, until the waffle is golden brown and able to be lifted from the iron


Should look pretty much like this


Okay, let’s get this on a plate!

Lift out and place on a plate

Now, back to that pulled pork!


Place the pulled pork directly on your potato waffle


Drizzle on some of that sauce like it’s maple syrup!


Looking good!

Myself I like to add a swirl of sriracha sauce on top


Like this!


Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork & Potato Waffles!



Bon Apetit!







Oven-Baked Buffalo Wings


Okay, so your guests come over to watch the Super Bowl and you made that amazing Cheesy “Pull Apart” Garlic Bread I showed last post. They loved it, but now it’s approaching half time and people are getting hungry.

Did you think I’d leave you stranded now?

Here are amazing Oven-Baked Buffalo Wings that you’d swear came from a restaurant!

Let me show you how it’s done!


Here’s what you’re gonna need:

  • 16-20 split chicken wings
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce (I’m using Frank’s Red Hot)


Add the cayenne to the flour


Now add the garlic powder


You can add some salt to taste at this point. Remember this is gonna be heavily sauced so you don’t need to add too much.


Blend the dry ingredients well


Pour the flour mixture into a large, resealable plastic bag


Is it big enough to hold a few wings? Good, then you have the right size!

Make sure the chicken is not wet. Pat it dry with a paper towel.


Drop a chicken wing into the bag

Shake to coat and place in a greased baking pan

Repeat the process until all chicken wings are coated


Take your pan of chicken and place in the fridge to cool for an hour. This makes sure that the flour coating sticks!


Internet magic and and hour has passed, let’s make the Buffalo Sauce


Pour your hot sauce into a medium sized mixing bowl


Now add the melted butter … what, you thought these were healthy?


Whisk together


Does it look like this? If so, you’re ready to move on to the next step!


Grab a wing and place it in the sauce. Make sure it’s totally coated with sauce!


Take the coated wing and put it back in the pan

Do it again for the next wing!


Keep on doing this …


Until all the wings are totally coated

Place in 400F oven for 45 minutes


Basically, until they look like this


Ready to go!


Place them on a plate with some carrot sticks, celery sticks, blue cheese dressing … whatever you like!


So there you have it, Oven-Baked Buffalo Wings. Just be ready to have to prove you didn’t order these in from a restaurant!


Bon Apetit!


Cheesy “Pull Apart” Garlic Bread


So, the Super Bowl is coming … or you’re having friends over … or you are planning a Netflix marathon. You want a delicious and easy to share snack. Well, we got ya!

Wonderful Cheesy “Pull Apart” Garlic Bread is pretty simple to make and will be descended upon by your guests like a swarm of locusts! You may want to have another for back up …


Let’s do this!


This one isn’t too complicated. You’ll need:

  • large round or oval loaf of bread
  • 4-6 oz of mozzarella cheese
  • 3-4 oz of soft butter
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 bunch of chives


Chop the chives into small pieces


Should be about a handful


Add to softened butter


Add the garlic


and mix!


Take your bread and slice almost to the bottom


Move over about an inch and slice in the same way. Continue this all the way across the bread!


Give your bread a 1/4 turn


and do the same slicing as before



Bread should have diamond wedges all over, like this

Now slice the cheese into thin strips


Get that butter mixture and spoon it into bread slice


Keep doing this until all the slices have been filled with the butter mixture


Okay, add your cheese slices in much the same way


It’s hopefully looking something like this

Wrap the entire bread in aluminum foil and place on a baking tray in a 350F oven for 20 minutes

After 20 minutes, remove the foil, put the temperature up to 400F and cook for another 5 minutes


Now, doesn’t that smell amazing?


Ready to eat!


Just grab a wedge of bread and pull!


So good! (you may think this is a repeating GIF animation, but I basically did exactly what you see … it’s very hard to stop!)


Cheesy “Pull Apart” Garlic Bread!


Bon Apetit!



Reykjavík – A Visit to Iceland in February

Reykjavik winter

In February of 2014 we capped off our Scandinavian winter adventure with 4 days in Iceland


Having landed at the airport in Keflavik we immediately got on our shuttle bus taking us to Reykjavik, where we’d be put on another bus to our hotel. Grabbing handfuls of brochures at the airport, we eagerly tried to figure out all the cool things we’d do over the next four days.


I think during that drive the first thing I noticed about Iceland was that there were NO TREES. There also were very few signs of anyone until we got close to the city. This would be a scary place to have your car break down


Here’s what you see as you approach Reykjavik …

We arrived at our hotel, located at the corner of two very unpronounceable streets


The temperature here was around -5C, which coming off our time in the north of Sweden, seemed almost tropical!

Okay, you probably see that picture and wonder what I am so majestically looking out upon … (yea, that’s my best majestic look)



At the bottom of our street was a shallow, frozen lake. This would be great for taking a short cut to the other side!

Looked solid enough. Having spent a few weeks nurturing my inner adventurer, I decided best way to find out was to just walk across it


Brave adventurer has no fear!


This totally looks safe!


Yea, it’s all good. This little island of land is right in the centre of the lake.

In the area behind us, close to shore, there is an area of the lake that has hot water piped in, keeping part of the lake unfrozen for the ducks and swans!

We had come up with a general plan of going horseback riding on the lava fields the next day and visiting the Blue Lagoon hot springs and spa the day after that. Today we would walk around the city a bit, and then find a good place for our Valentine’s Day dinner!


The main shopping street was just a block over, so we headed to that and just walked uphill. Heck, seemed like as good a plan as any!

You want a stuffed animal that looks like a puffin and says Iceland, or perhaps a plastic horned Viking helmet? (must note here, actual Vikings never wore horned helmets!) This was definitely the street to go for that!

Wait, what’s this?


Iceland has a very unique sense of humour and kitsch. Behold, Lebowski Bar. It’s pretty much what you think … a restaurant and bar based on The Big Lebowski. With burgers named after The Dude, Walter, Donny and even The Nihilists (it’s chicken fingers, because they believe in nothing), this is probably the only Cohen brothers inspired restaurant I’ll ever come across … though if I ever see Chez Barton Fink, I may have to check it out!

(Okay, I did go in and have a “Walter” burger … I’m not made of stone!)


This is way better than “NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SERVICE”

For Valentine’s Day, we opted for something a little more down to earth. We ended up at a wonderful little place called Cafe Loki


night view


Located across the street from the spectacular Hallgrímskirkjathis cafe offered us a chance at some authentic Icelandic food … which as it turns out, is a mixed blessing

Claire, never one to shy away from a challenge, had heard many times of the Icelandic delicacy Hákarl

For those who don’t know what this is, here’s the basic rundown.

You take a Greenland shark, which is toxic, and let it ferment for 6-12 weeks. You then let it dry, cut away the brown crust, cut it into cubes and eat it. This gives it a very strong scent of ammonia (oh, and taste of it too!). While no longer toxic, it’s a stretch to say it has made this edible!

Time to order, I wisely go for a lovely lamb stew. Claire, goes for a special traditional plate called a  Þorramatur


A collection of traditional dishes, prepared to celebrate during the month of (English spelling here) Thorri, let’s get a run down of the things she’ll be eating …

There’s some Icelandic rye bread, liver sausage, blood sausage, smoked lamb, dry fish. These are all pretty tasty. Then there were a few things we didn’t recognize … and that little square on a toothpick, yea, that’s the hakarl

Note the toothpick with the Icelandic flag … that is attached to a food I will get to in a moment!

At this point I think that maybe if I can just quietly eat my stew …


Unfortunately, marriage is about sharing …

So, Claire tries the hakarl, making sure to save a bit for me, as there is no way she’s going to do this alone. Watching her face, I knew it was bad. Now, as it happens, we’ve got a video of ME trying it!

Imagine fish that has been sitting in blue cheese for a few months and then a cat came over and peed on it … yea, that’s about it

Okay, nothing could be worse than that. Everything’s okay now ….

That innocent looking cube of “food” with the Icelandic flag is known as Súrsaðir hrútspungar. Having just eaten the hakarl, I was feeling pretty confident I had just tasted the worst thing I ever would in my entire life. I was right for 30 seconds.

Súrsaðir hrútspungar is the testicles of a ram, pressed into a cube, boiled and then fermented in lactic acid (the sour part of sour milk!). My best description of taste of that is traumatizing.

Time for dessert. Again, something a bit strange … rye bread ice cream


Now, Icelandic rye bread is not like what you are used to here. Cooked very slowly, traditionally in volcanic steam vents, the starches turn to sugar. Icelandic rye is dense and sweet … and unique. When mixed in with a base vanilla ice cream, the results are fantastic.

Valentine’s Day meal is saved! This almost erased the memory of the Súrsaðir hrútspungar


I think Reykjavik is more beautiful at night


Time for bed. After all, tomorrow we take Icelandic horses out on the lava fields!


Icelandic horses are smaller, more hairy, and hella fast! They have 2 more gaits than horses elsewhere in the world. The unique “tolt” is pretty fast yet totally smooth … for anyone who knows about riding a horse, this means you can sit flat in the saddle while moving faster than a trot!


on horse

Oh, riding in the winter is cold …


This was what most of terrain looked like. You really didn’t want to fall off!

Our excursion included lunch. As we got to the dining room, as Claire headed off to wash up, she jokingly said “Well, hope it’s not another Thorri platter!”




Okay, it wasn’t just the platter … and we DID have brennivin to wash away the taste of the ram testicles this time. Yes, we did eat it … we’re Canadian, and we’d rather eat fermented testicles and cat-pee flavoured shark than be rude.

We got back with time to again explore the city

Some advice to anyone visiting, eating at restaurants is very expensive. Groceries on the other hand (other than any vegetables) are quite affordable. Try to stay somewhere with a kitchenette so you can prepare your own breakfasts … this will save you a lot of money!

Last full day, and we’re off to the famous geothermal spa, The Blue Lagoon


Located in the middle of a volcanic wasteland, time to go swimming outside in -5C weather!

Gonna get into that water quickly when you can see ice on all the rocks!

The water was milky and pale blue … and so wonderfully warm!

Okay, after being sufficiently melted, time to head back and have one last meal before heading back to Canada. This time, really gonna try to avoid ram testicles!

After much exploring, we found a wonderful little bar where our choices for food were lamb stew in a bread bowl … or not eating anything


I think we made the right choice!

So, there’s a very brief recap of our introduction to Reykjavik and Iceland. Oh, we’re definitely going to go back!