Foodie Facebook: Melanie


Name: Melanie
Location: Montreal
Occupation: Designer, Event Planner

1. What is your earliest childhood food memory? I was three years old, my brother was just born and my parents took me out for a ‘big girl’ meal. My mother ordered me escargot, which I loved, and it became a tradition: I ordered them every time I ate out, up to about age ten.2. What did you eat today? An omelet and a strawberry smoothie for breakfast; grilled ham and cheese for lunch; and for dinner, roast chicken with rosemary, mashed potatoes, asparagus and a green salad.3. What will your kids never be allowed to eat? KD! Hamburger Helper.4. What do you always have on hand in your fridge? Dijon, Clamato, wasabi, extra-old cheddar, olives, chicken broth5. What is your beverage of choice? Pineapple juice or if we’re talking alcoholic, a Black Russian6. If you could have dinner with anyone in the history of man, who would it be? Hmmm, I’d have to say Georgia O’Keeffe. Or Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s tough.7. Ok, it’s your last meal ever. What do you have? Lobster, definitely. Rice, asparagus with aioli, raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake, San Pellegrino and a bottle of Bordeaux,
Entre deux Mer.Ed note: Thanks Mel! Foodie Facebook will be a regular feature of Under the High Chair. Stay tuned, it could be you!

Mushroom mafia or ’37’


Nature alone is antique and the oldest art a mushroom.”
Thomas Carlyle My parents just returned from the Haida Guaii, otherwise known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, where they were picking wild mushrooms for mad cash. The Charlottes are located 300 km of the northwest coast of British Columbia and are a day’s trip from my parents place in New Hazelton. Sometimes called the Galapagos of the North, I have fond memories of that wild, lush place: BC’s own little tropics, it seemed to me.My parent’s had originally planned a four-day bike trip around the islands to relax and see the sights, but ended up hooking up with some mushroom-picking cronies, signing their souls over to the mushroom mafia, and staying three weeks for the remainder the chanterelle season. (more on the mafia later, it’s not a joke. I have to get the full story from my dad). They loved their time roaming the deep rainforest and picking chanterelles. My mum’s only complaint was:
“Some guys from Quebec pitched their tent right in front of the outhouse that doesn’t have a door!”I know these little chanterelle beauties (called giroles in French) from my three years at Toque! where I probably cooked enough of them to crust the entire Island of Montreal in a nice duxelles. We received more than just the one mushroom variety from the QC’s, there were morels, black trumpets and the infamous pine, too. The Montreal mushroom scene is pretty weird. It is mostly controlled by one family of Eastern European decent (don’t know where for sure) who are all in competition with each other.The guy I dealt with at Toque was called Serge, an elderly, short, stocky fellow who shuffled in with a basket over his arm, usually while we were in the middle of service. He would lean on the counter and wait for a lull, meanwhile checking out the girls with a gleam in his eyes. He was self-reputed to have, ahem, ‘done it’ with his wife 37 times in one night, and this seemed to be an undisputable fact that simply everyone knew about on the cooking scene. While he waited, usually one of the guys on the line would holler out,“Trente-sept, eh Serge?”to which he would straighten up, shake a finger at the cook and say,“OUI, trente-sept”.With my parents having picked them, and I having served them, it seems like we have had a mushroom ‘full circle’ moment, as Oprah would say. Ok, maybe we should reserve that term for something a little more monumental, but I though it was pretty cool.

When life hands you lemons…

….make lemon curd. Lemons are 5 for $.99 at my local fruiterie and I’ve been using them to test some curd for Noah’s birthday gateau. This recipe is so fast to make and can keep for a few days. I played around and made the tartlet’s you see here, but you can use the curd between layers of cake, for a pie filling, or just eaten straight from the fridge with a spoon at 3am. Not that I know anything about that!! I have to credit the marvelous Martha for this recipe.

Lemon Curd
Makes 1 1/2 cups
6 large egg yolks
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
12 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
1. Prepare an ice bath fitted with a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk together yolks, zest, juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Set over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.
2. Remove pan from heat. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, stirring until incorporated. Pass through a fine mesh sieve into prepared medium bowl. Stirring frequently, let stand until cool.
3. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on surface of curd to prevent skin from forming; wrap tightly. Refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
PS. My apologies for the photo. They will improve with time!

What’s in a name?

I always wondered why babies spend so much time sucking their thumbs. Then I tasted baby food.” Robert Orben (1927–) American humorist.
I suppose I should explain my blog name a little further and introduce you to the Little One under who’s high chair many of my lovingly prepared meals end up. This is Noah, my first child, and as you can see, no, he’s not starving to death, so I am successful in filling his tummy sometimes…yet, he’s been my harshest critic. I always knew I would make my own baby food, that it would be easy, that I would save money and at the same time be giving my baby the best possible start on life. I just wasn’t prepared for him to hate it. I made braised beef with fennel and carrots, whole-wheat pasta with ricotta and broth, roasted chicken with sweet potato…mouth-watering, right? Well, if I could get him to eat a few mouthfuls, the slightest pea-sized lump would make him gag and occasionally he would regurgitate everything up from the bowels of his gut. Not a pretty sight. So, I am taking it slow, working with his favorites, and occasionally slipping in something new. Last night he ate mashed up lasagna, so I guess there’s hope. Still there is an awful lot of food that ends up under the high chair, but there are some perks- I didn’t name my blog “What’s in Noah’s Diaper”? Right?

Specialization is for Insects


“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” Robert A. Heinlein

Of the list, I’d say I could do a good handful with my eyes closed (diaper, comfort, orders, manure, cooperate, act alone, and cook), a few under the gun (hog, sonnet, accounts, wall, equations, analyze, fight, die) and the rest not at all!!The dish above is one I like to make on Saturday mornings, before my eyes are really open and I am still half asleep. It’s dead easy and there are never leftovers. (Wait a minute, there are never leftovers in my house. I live with Danny remember?) Here’s the recipe:

BISMARKS

8 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
fresh lemon juice to taste
confectioners’ sugar for dusting

1. Put butter in a heavy frying pan or a shallow casserole. Place in a oven preheated to 475F.
2. Meanwhile, mix milk, flour, and eggs lightly to make a batter.
3. When the butter has melted, add batter to pan and bake for 12 minutes.
4. Pour a little of the melted butter onto the pancake and squeeze a little lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar and serve immediately.

Variations: Spread with a fruit preserve or fresh berries; sprinkle with Grand Marnier; maple syrup mmmmmm.

Enjoy! And welcome to my new blog, by the way. Stay tuned for a great time.