Baking: Cherry-Chocolate Pie

I’m finally back to baking!! Who’s missed it over here since a few years back when it was a normal segment that occurred? I know that I have but the last few years, my mindset hasn’t quite been there yet. However, we’ll skip the frilly things and get right down to it.

I’ve been craving a cherry pie forever and can’t seem to find one so my solution, pick up some tart shells and cherry pie filling (because cherries aren’t in season now) and then add a little something to give it a fun little twist.

Its nothing sophisticated or difficult to this one but I needed to get back to baking and this was something that I’ve wanted to do quickly so here we are as a quick solution. We’ll get fancier baked goods to come!

Cherry-Chocolate Pie

Cherry Chocolate Pie

Inspired by this recipe: https://food52.com/recipes/33749-heartbreak-pie-aka-black-bottom-cherry-pie

Ingredients

  • Pre-made Tart Shells (I used Tenderbake Pie Shells not deep dish)
  • 1 can Cherry Pie Filling (I used E.D. Smith)
  • Dark Chocolate Chips (Selection brand)

What I did:

  1. Thaw the tart shells for however long the package says, in my case, it was 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven at 425C.
  3. Layer one of the pie shells with the dark chocolate chips.
  4. Carefully pour or scoop the cherry pie filling as a layer on top of the dark chocolate chips.
  5. Put the second tart shell over the top of the first to cover it up. Use a fork to carefully seal up the sides. Cut some slits on top to release steam while in the oven.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes.

The final product looked like that above and a slice looked like this:

Cherry-Chocolate Pie

I did a few modifications to the recipe above as well as some things I’d have done differently.

  • The major one is that I didn’t make a ganache and just pour in the chocolate chips to melt on their own which I thought gave it a little more texture because a part of it melted and the other part had some bites of chocolate chips.
  • You can make your own cherry pie filling or your own tart shells. I would have made the cherry pie filling if cherries were in season but they aren’t unfortunately.
  • For this particular recipe, if I were to do it again, I’d do probably 400C at 45 minutes instead, mostly because this time, it was a little over-browned on the side. Not yet burnt but on its way, so lower temp would probably be better.
  • You can use any type of chocolate chip that you desire. For lactose-free concerns, this was my choice.

Final thoughts:

Now my usual baking endeavours, for sure. I haven’t baked in a long time so we’re starting off with some easy and simple recipe to just get back into the mood. This pie is actually quite good for quick solutions as the chocolate balances the very tart cherry pie filling without haven’t to add in more sugar than what is already there from this brand at least.  It turned out actually rather good and layered as I had hope with the chocolate forming a layer at the bottom and a tart cherry pie filling on the top.

What types of pies do you like to make (or to eat)?

Wine Recap: November 2019

wine recap (18)

Its the November Wine Recap! November saw us having a week off from work on a little staycation and we managed to pick up some nice wines and then chilled out a lot just watching movies and relaxing a little so this time has a few more wines that we were able to try! Let’s check it out!

Domaine Le Grand Saint-Charles Duo de Frontenac 2017

Le Grand Saint-Charles Duo de Frontenac

Producer: Domaine Le Grand Saint-Charles
Alcohol Content: 12.5%
Location: Quebec, Canada
Taste Tag: N/A

Le Grand Saint-Charles is a winery that I want to get behind so much because of its creative wine combinations. This one mixes two Frontenacs together: Frontenac Gris and Frontenac. We’re not exactly a huge fan of either of these wines but we do always like to try new mixes to hopefully have one that surprises us. This one actually was pretty alright compared to the other white wine varieties that we’ve tried from Le Grand Saint-Charles. Its not quite as acidic or extra-dry. This one was rather delicate and light. It still was leaning onto the semi-dry taste palette but there was also a well-enough balance to make it enjoyable.

Inniskillin Late Autumn Riesling 2016

Inniskillin Late Autumn Riesling

Producer: Inniskillin Wines Inc.
Alcohol Content: 12%
Location: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada
Taste Tag: Fruity and Sweet

Inniksillin is a winery that is pretty well-known. They have some fantastic ice ciders and my husband has been wanting to try out the wines, so here we are giving the Late Autumn Riesling a try. As expected, the safe area of Riesling didn’t disappoint at all. It was a pleasant one and rather rich in flavor because of the Late Autumn element that actually gives it a more reserve sort of status. This one is definitely in the fruity and sweet taste tag and one that is very easy to like a lot.

Le Grand Ballon Val de Loire Chardonnay

Le Grand Ballon Chardonnay

Producer: Sarl Joel Delaunay
Alcohol Content: 12%
Location: Centre-Ouest, France
Taste Tag: Delicate and Light

From my memory, this is the second time that we’ve tried a wine from Val de Loire. French wines have so many territories and each have their distinctive elements and taste that its truly hard to remember all of it. I did remember the last one that we tried from Val de Loire was more on the dry side and that applies to Le Grand Ballon’s Chardonnay as well. Its more of  semi-dry taste with has a bit of light-bodied elements and fruity elements as well. The dryness does hit harder on the first sip but it does have a refreshing taste down the throat.

Slow Press Chardonnay Monterey County

Slow Press Chardonnay

Producer: The Wine Group
Alcohol Content: 13.5%
Location: Monterey, California, United States
Taste Tag: Aromatic and Mellow

I’m not going to lie that my initial draw to Slow Press was its classy bottle label and the color choice. It had this oaked and aged wine sort of look to it plus it had the aromatic and mellow taste tag which always has this surprisingly sophisticated taste to it. Slow Press is actually quite good. It is a little dry but it has a nice finish, just like most of the wines in this taste tag category. Its why we always go back to it as its not exactly a fruity and fun deal but one that is a little more elevated and has more depth in its taste.

Growers Honeycrisp Apple

Growers Cider Co.

Producer: Arterra Wines Canada Inc.
Alcohol Content: 5%
Location: Ontario, Canada
Taste Tag: Sweet & Fruity

Ontario ciders are rather different from Quebec ciders. I’ve tried a good few Ontario ciders to this point and I’ve become quite picky on what stands out for me. A lot of them actually are very similar probably because of the apples they choose. What makes Growers Cider different is that it uses Honeycrisp Apples and it adds this tartness to their cider that actually balances really well with the apple sweetness. Its a rather unique cider taste and has quite a delightful experience.

That’s it for this November Wine Recap!
Some really neat discoveries this time around!

Restaurant: Fatboys Southern Smokehouse (Ottawa, Canada)

In the string of restaurant visits that we’ve been on, vacation week off means a little day trip out to Ottawa. After a little research and whatnot, we decided to head out to check out Fatboys Southern Smokehouse in Ottawa, somewhere that we’ve never been before but the whole description from the food it offers to the biker ambiance really had us intrigued. You can check out the menu and everything else HERE.

Going for lunch on a weekday has a lot of great things. For one, its usually less crowded as everyone else has work. Second, less people means faster service and better service. I’m not sure it would make a difference as our waitress was incredibly friendly and helpful with everything from menus to making sure about my allergies and intolerances and what I could have and not have. She also came to check on us frequently and in reasonable time, ie. not when I’m stuffing my face with food (which you’d believe a lot of other restaurants don’t quite time well). Not to mention that, the menu is really good which makes us want to go back to check out more of the food that they offer, especially the ribs since being lunchtime, we didn’t have quite as much appetite for it and all the fun things like milkshakes and their detailed bourbon list as well as the great and unique list of sides.

It sounds crazy that I didn’t take anything else in the restaurant other than the bathroom entrance and the bathroom decor but I think its a good idea of how its biker ambiance in general. Its very nice and a lot of great things to look at from its bar counter to along the walls and the industrial interior above on the pipes above and such with stickers and other posters. Everything is really charming!

Appetizer

Fatboys Southern Smokehouse

Kentucky Popcorn Chicken

As appetizer to share, after much debate between Fried Rib Tips and Kentucky Popcorn Chicken, the latter won the debate. Luckily it did because this was delectable and also our first initial choice. The chicken had a beautiful well-spiced batter that had a lovely kick to it. It was also thin so didn’t have the really thick floury texture but just blended right in each bite with the perfectly cooked chicken. Its so delicious!

Main Meal

Fatboys Southern Smokehouse

Smokehouse Burger with added bacon with a side of Smoked Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese

Fatboys Southern Smokehouse

Carolina Pulled Pork (no slaw) with a side of Dusty Shoestring Fries

We only both had the burgers/sandwiches. My husband had the Smokehouse Burger which he liked quite a bit especially with the added cheese. The Smoked Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese also impressed him a lot also as he really enjoyed the flavor of it all.  I had the Caroline Pulled Pork but had to have the slaw removed due to lactose intolerance. At the same time, this lead to the choice of dusted shoestring fries which turned out to be a great choice because it had some lovely “dusting” with what would seem like barbecue spices and sugar or something sweet. Two very awesome dishes which are full of southern flavors.

Overall, Fatboys Southern Smokehouse is a great restaurant. We tried a very minimal part of the menu but there is so much to offer here as just the little that we had was all very delicious whether it is the meat or the spices or the overall service or the restaurant style which all fits together in a lovely package. Its one to definitely visit and one that we’d definitely return to.

MTL a Table: Taboo Cuisine Rebelle

On to the final MTL a Table! Our last location was in Downtown Montreal at Taboo Cuisine Rebelle.

Taboo Cuisine Rebelle is a lounge style restaurant with a rather relaxing generally bite-size food offerings and intricate drinks. With that said, the service was slow. It felt like there wasn’t enough servers to occupy the tables especially in high traffic periods like the time we had dinner at around 6pm. At the same time, they also overbooked as it was mentioned when we arrived that we had another table reserved 2.5 hours after and we only ended up leaving very close to that time with the next party already waiting around the bar. However, a redeeming point between all the stress of leaving and the slow service and the rather lacking service as well as the fact that in the lounge setting the music was rather contained but was a comfortable background addition and the ambiance and lighting was rather decent.

Now to move on and look at the food…

Aeroplan Privilege Drink: Lacroix Cider

Lacroix Cider

The Aeroplan privilege drink that was offered here was the Lacroix cider. We’ve never had this one before and it actually is on point with most of the Quebec ciders that we’ve had. Its not particularly overly sweet but it still is fairly good.

First service: Starters

Taboo Cuisine Rebelle

Sweet potato and pear soup, blue cheese on a crouton from Boulangerie L’Epicurien, walnuts

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Salmon gravlax marinated in lemongrass and ginger oil, Asian sauce, wasabi, pomegrenate, fried capers, shoots

There was a choice of two appetizers. The husband had the soup where he found it good except that its for blue cheese lovers. For him, the blue cheese was a hurdle to appreciate the dish more than he would have wanted. As for the salmon gravlax which was my choice, it was very delicious. For someone not too huge on raw fish, this one packed a lot of flavors and depth in general from the crunch pomegranate to the delicious sauce, there was a lovely balance to it all.

Second service: Main course

Taboo Cuisine Rebelle

3 mini burgers: Antipasto (salmon, mango, bruschetta, arugula, garlic); Ying Yang (shrimp, bruschetta, arugula, crispy noodles, citrus mayo); Benji (crispy chicken, goat cheese, bell pepper, arugula, garlic)

Taboo Cuisine Rebelle

Bison Tartare panache, Taboo Mix, olive oil, dijon, apples, hazelnuts, lime juice, croutons, house salad

Taboo Cuisine Rebelle

4 oz. filet mignon, crispy onion, demi-glace with maple syrup and foie gras, portobellos, grilled pistachios

For the main course, the husband go the 3 mini burgers. The three burgers were each about 2 or 3 bites. His favorite was the Ying Yang which was a surprise as shrimp usually isn’t his favorite type of seafood. The next one is Antipasto which was pretty good as well however, he did not enjoy Benji because of the goat cheese which is a rather acquired taste ingredient.

As for myself, I chose the filet mignon was a decent choice and one that usually isn’t on the menu as the filet mignon is usually 2 oz and in other mini burger varieties. The only issue here is that the filet mignon is so small compared to the three crispy onions that took up 80% of the plate itself. The sauce was pretty good as well.

Third Service: Desserts

Taboo Cuisine Rebelle

Fried crepe stuffed with cheesecake and chocolate marbled with fondant caramel, whipped cream, caramel served with apple chutney

Taboo Cuisine Rebelle

Vegan Brownie

Finally, for the desserts, the husband had the very unique fried crepe with cheesecake which was the best part of the entire meal for him. As for myself, I had the incredibly moist and decadent vegan brownie which was heavenly and rich in chocolate goodness. It was also a big highlight for my meal here.

Overall, Taboo is a restaurant with a decent ambiance and a nice selection of finger food/bite-size mini burgers and such. Its normal prices are overpriced for sure for what it offers (ex. there is a $16 mini burger, which is unfathomable for myself). While the service left a lot to desire whether it was in its efficiency for its urgency to have us out before the next party arrived and the server’s unattentiveness and rather leaning on rude service, the food here was pretty delicious. Its not someplace that I’d go back to per se as the overall experience wasn’t quite on par to some of the other restaurants we’ve discovered through MTL a Table this year and in previous years.

MTL a Table: La Classe (College Lasalle)

Another MTL a Table adventure is here as we head to the second restaurant on my list (out of three). This time we head to a much more familiar spot to the College Lasalle restaurant which employs the students of College Lasalle to hone their various skills related to the restaurant business. La Classe was previously called Fuschia and serves French cuisine at a very reasonable price to the public.

Aeroplan Privilege: Gin Cirka, pear puree, rosemary syrup and Labrador tea

La Classe

The Aeroplan privilege drink was this La Classe cocktail that was very unique. I haven’t tried Gin Cirka before and I rarely drink gin in general and this one was very strong in flavor however it was pretty good.

Amuse-Bouche

La Classe

The amuse-bouche is a tuna of sorts with sesame seeds and whatnot. I don’t have the actual dish name but while I’m not a huge fan of raw fish, but this had quite a lot of depth with the one bite. It was really delicious.

First service: Starters

La Classe

Mushroom veloute, chestnuts, hazelnut oil

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Seared scallop, squash ravioli

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Arctic char gravlax from Baie des Chaleurs, beet-crusted soft boiled egg

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Crusted poultry

I had the crusted poultry. I’m not quite sure what poultry it was but it had this foie gras sort of texture to it. Paired with the crust and the dijon in the middle and the little jelly and other adornments in the centre, it all gave it a nice balance in flavor to compliment it. However, foie gras texture, even though it is poultry is denser so felt a bit much in the last bite or two but it still tasted really good.

Second service: Main course

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Halibut filet, mussels, cauliflower

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Pork served in three ways

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Smoked duck magret

La Classe

Citrus lobster tail

For the main course, I went with the citrus lobster tail which was absolutely delicious. The puree seemed like some squash puree or pumpkin puree or something and the sweetness it brought meshed with the citrus flavors and the perfectly cooked lobster tail gave it a really lovely balance in flavors. Plus, they had these crunchy sides which I’m not quite sure what it was as it didn’t have quite a lot of taste to it but it did add a depth to the texture itself.

Third service: Dessert

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La Pomme

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Passion-Coco

As for desserts, they all look so wonderful. The dessert list actually had two more options from the original MTL a Table list on the website so I don’t have the info for it. Luckily, they did add in one that I could have which was the Passion-Coco. Its a lovely little citrus taste which was a nice blend of aromas and flavors of passion fruit and coconut that actually wasn’t overpowering and worked well together to be a good blend without being too acidic.

Overall…La Classe Restaurant is a great location. Its MTL a Table menu is in the $23 range which is incredibly affordable and a good bang for the buck  especially for French cuisine. While it is primarily student run, they have very patient servers and the kitchen makes very delicious food. Its a very thorough experience and always enjoyable atmosphere. Its a restaurant well worth visiting even outside of this event.

Wine Recap – October 2019

wine recap (17)

Welcome to the Wine Recap for October 2019. With all the festivals and overtime going on, it was an obvious progression of events that drinking anything alcoholic was not going to as abundant seeing as everything needs a clear mind to write or work. With that said, this month’s recap is much shorter than usual and actually probably is more average as well. Nothing amazing but nothing that we hated either.

Let’s check it out!

La Vieille Ferme Rosé Recolte 2018

La Vieille Ferme Recolte 2018

Producer: Perrin et Fils SA
Alcohol Content: 13%
Location: Vallee du Rhone, France
Taste Tag: Fruity and Medium-bodied

A very rare taste tag that we usually choose from for this one. While that usually doesn’t say too much to us, this one was rather fruity in the more acidic range and definitely was drier than our usual wines. However, La Vieille Ferme for its taste tag actually was fairly mild. It had a nice smooth taste especially as its end notes. However, its first sips are rather in the dry range and a little more than what we are accustomed to. For those who do like drier wines, this one is a pretty decent option especially as it is the Recolte 2018 which is a little more special than the normal.

Kim Crawford Chardonnay 2018

Kim Crawford Chardonnay 2018

Producer: Kim Crawford Wines
Alcohol Content: 13%
Location: South Island, New Zealand
Taste Tag: Aromatic and Mellow

We’ve seen the Kim Crawford wines around quite a bit and never actually tried it before. While Chardonnay is not exactly our go-to white wine variety, we wanted to give this one a go as it fell into some other wine taste tags that we’ve tried before that had a lot of depth in its beginning sips to its end notes. Kim Crawford is pretty good as well. Its well-balanced and not too dry. There was a slightly more acidic finish to this one.

Petit et Fils Rose Sparkling Cider

Petit et Fils Cider Rose

Producer: Verger Petit et Fils
Alcohol Content: 6.5%
Location: Quebec, Canada
Taste Tag: Fruity and Sweet

A nice sparkling rose cider which is lighter than our normal wines and deliberately so as this was in the middle of the huge rush and more meant as a fun little cider to just relax. Petit  & Fils is rather good and we had bought it a few years back (if I remember correctly) and it didn’t disappoint so we were excited to give it a try again. As expected, it was not quite as refined to our palette as we had remembered it but as a sparkling rose cider, it still was rather fruity and sweet but leaned a little closer to the medium-bodied.

That’s it for this round of Wine Recap!
Short and sweet for October with some decent choices!

What have you been drinking lately?

MTL a Table: Rose Ross

The Battle of Ingredients is taking a break in November as normal to check out the MTL a Table. We’re definitely back on track as this time, we kick off the eating earlier in this restaurant event. The first we’re hitting up is Rose Ross.

Rose Ross is a cozy little restaurant. Its actually just one strip of restaurant that was easily missed when we were first looking for it until we crossed the street and saw the sign. Its rather nicely ambient and while its fairly close quarters, the decor is very comfortable. Right off the bat, the service here was fantastic. They made an effort to make sure that allergies and intolerances were addressed and confirmed before ordering and was patiently answering all our questions and then when the meal came, they made sure to assure that anything that might look like it could trigger food allergies were confirmed to not be the case.

MTL a Table menu was rather good with a good few choices for each course and they also offered the Exclusive Aeroplan privileges for Aeroplan members.

Exclusive Aeroplan Privilege: Glass of Suriol Cava

Suriol Cava

They offered everyone with the Aeroplan card on hand a complimentary glass of sparkling wine, Suriol Cava as a starter. I’ll talk more about it in the wine recap for November. I can say that I’m not usually a huge fan of sparkling wine but this one was pretty good and matched well with the meal.

STARTERS

Rose Ross

Honeynut squash, pumpkin seeds and herbs, pesto, mozzarella di bufala Maciocia

Rose Ross

Mushroom cream, fried shallots, chive, curry oil and crispy chicken skin

Rose Ross

Brussel sprouts a la vietsesame oil and coriander

A big group is always nice as we get to at least see everything on the menu. With the starters, we got the 3 out of 4 choices. My husband having the first one with the honeynut squash where his general comment about his meals throughout the evening was that they had a lot of depth in the food with the different textures combined and the flavors and such.

I had the last one (which was the one that I had my eyes on) with the brussel sprouts. I’m always on the lookout for new ways to cook and eat brussel sprouts. While this one was a tad powerful in the vinaigrette, it was really delicious for the majority of it and we all had a debate on how to fry or roast the brussel sprouts to be like that. Very lovely dish and it says a lot about it as I’m not a huge fan of coriander to begin with but the vietssesame oil and coriander was great with the brussel sprouts.

MAIN COURSES

Rose Ross

Gnocchis, pecorino romano, chanterelles, fried cauliflower, chard, tarragon and cream

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Blood pudding from Cochonnailles, squash puree, embeurre of cabbage with lovage and bacon, glace de viande moutardee

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Coregone, carrot mousseline, beluga lentilles, fennel and basil

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Onglet de boeuf IPE, cognac sauce, fries and mayonnaise (+$10)

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Kid’s meal: Penne with tomato sauce

The husband’s choice was the Gnocchi, Phoebe’s choice was the Onglet de boeuf and mine was the Coregone fish option with the carrot mousseline. Everyone liked their main course. Mine was very unique as I’m not sure that I’ve ever had this type of fish before. The fish was cooked nicely and then the carrot mousseline was heavenly then it was paired with the sides that gave it a lot of depth and the flavors blended really well together.

Worth noting here is that they gave the option for kids menu where they had various types of pasta and two types of sauce to choose from which is always nice to see it having a certain level of accommodation on that level.

DESSERTS

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Hazelnut cream puff with vanilla ice cream, salted caramel and goglu cookie crumble

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Carrot cake and miel d’Anicet

In terms of dessert, they also landed quite well. The group enjoyed the hazelnut cream puff while I had the carrot cake which was a change in the original MTL a table menu which was some almond milk rice pudding. This one was also lactose-free option and tasted really  nice. It was very aromatic and not too sweet and the cake texture was moist as well.

Overall, Rose Ross is definitely a restaurant that we’d go back to. For MTL a Table, it was in the 2nd tier pricing at $33 a meal with a lot of options in each course to choose from. The service was impressive and very friendly. The restaurant atmosphere was really efficient and very comfortable. The food also delivered really well especially since it has a mix of French and North American food which sometimes is rather sensitive on the possible allergies but they were all very knowledgeable about their menu so had options for the basic allergies. It was an awesome first impression and first experience that we’d gladly go back a second time, even during a non-MTL a Table event for their regular menu if the opportunity presents itself. If you’re in Montreal, this one is a definitely one to consider.