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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chocolate Pecan Torte

Finally, there is only one more day until the wedding which means that I'm sharing my last brunch recipe today... Chocolate Pecan Torte. This is probably my favourite dish from the brunch because well, truth be told, I love chocolate. This torte is flourless, which means that all our gluten free friends can enjoy it too! The texture is not that of your typical flourless chocolate cake, the pecans are chopped so that they retain some texture.

I know some people out there are getting tired of hearing about the Royal Wedding, but I think that's one of my favourite parts. I love the buildup - the excitement throughout the media, the constant chatter about who we wish would design the dress (... Erdem!), even the constant streams of specials about the royal family are entertaining to watch.

Chocolate Pecan Torte (serves 6)
Source: Vogue Entertaining Cookbook

1 1/4 cups pecans
5 oz semi sweet chocolate + 2-3oz for glaze
1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temp.
1/4 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
8 egg whites


Preheat oven to 350.

Butter, flour and line an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper.

Pulse the nuts in a food processor a few times so that they retain texture. Pulse the chocolate in a blender* but do not let it get powdery.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time. Beating after each addition. Fold in the nuts and chocolate.

Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it up. Fold through the remaining egg whites.

Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before turning it out onto a platter.

To serve: Melt chocolate in the microwave, about 2-3 minutes. Taking it out after each minute and stirring. Pour melted chocolate over the cake and using an offset spatula spread the chocolate evenly over the top of the cake. Cut the cake into slices before the chocolate sets.

* My food processor is not very powerful so I found using the blender worked for chopping the chocolate. Make sure you're using the chop button/setting.

Well, the wedding is finally tomorrow and here I am wondering what I'm going to do with myself once it's all over.

I guess I could get a start on my homework...

- Lou

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Shrimp in Butter Garlic Sauce

Shrimp is one of my favourite things to eat. No explanation necessary. Personally, I find that when shrimp is slathered in butter and garlic it’s at its best. Again, no explanation necessary. When I was planning my menu for the Royal Brunch I wasn’t really sure if it was all right to have shrimp at a brunch, but I quickly got over those doubts when I realized how tasty this really is. Plus I’m sure Wills and Kate would be down for shrimp. Yes? No? Who cares, I’m down for shrimp.

Doesn’t shrimp, butter and garlic just make you drool? Doesn’t it also make you drool that this is ready in 5 minutes? Do you know what it means when something is ready in 5 minutes? It means that instead of spending lots of time cooking (procrastinating) you will have plenty of time to study for that world issues test. Or, if you’re not into world issues, or school in general, it leaves you with plenty of time to spend with your family, or your plants, or Oprah, or your box of tissues while you watch The Notebook or I Am Sam.

Yep, tons of time for all the important things in life!

Shrimp in Butter Garlic Sauce (serves 6)

1 package of frozen, pre-cooked shrimp
2 tbsp melted butter
1 large garlic clove, crushed


Thaw frozen shrimp. Follow directions on the back of the package.

While shrimp is thawing melt butter in the microwave for 30 seconds - 1 minute. Then crush garlic directly into butter.

Heat shrimp in butter and garlic in a skillet over low heat. Until heated through. Remember we’re not cooking the shrimp, just warming it up. This should take about 2-4 minutes.

Serve with a sprinkling of freshly cracked pepper.

Whether you serve this for dinner or brunch, you will love it.

- Lou

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Coddled Eggs and Bacon

When I was putting together my menu for our Royal Wedding Brunch, I stumbled upon this recipe for Coddled Eggs and Bacon. There is just something about the idea of eggs, bacon and mushrooms baked in individual ramekins that made me tremendously excited. I think it was my nerdy and slightly obsessive side coming out. Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s what it was.

But really, please do tell me what’s better than bacon and mushrooms? These are just the cutest little things on the planet, please let it be known that I’m now obsessed with making dishes in ramekins. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Coddled Eggs and Bacon (serves 6)
Source: The Vogue Entertaining Cookbook


6 eggs
6 small button mushrooms, quartered
3 rashers of back bacon, chopped*
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp thyme, divided

* Back bacon can be replaced with regular bacon.


Preheat oven to 350.

Quarter the mushrooms and chop the bacon. Heat 1 tbsp of butter in a frying pan and saute mushrooms and bacon together for 4-5 minutes over medium heat. Remove to a plate and reserve.

Grease the ramekins with the remaining 1 tbsp of butter.

Crack each egg into an individual ramekin, being careful to keep the yolk intact.

Sprinkle 1-2 1/2 tbsp of the mushroom and bacon mixture on top of each cracked egg. Lastly evenly sprinkle the thyme on each egg.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the egg is cooked.

Enjoy your Coddled Eggs and Bacon, it makes for the perfect weekend breakfast.

- Lou

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Crustless Spinach Quiche

It’s day 2 of our Royal Wedding Extravaganza, but it’s also Meatless Monday, which means I’ll be posting a meatless meal from our brunch menu - Crustless Spinach Quiche!

This quiche is such a great dish because having no crust means that there are only a few minutes of hands on time. It’s also the quintessential brunch dish, despite being of German and French origin, I think it will work pretty well for our British Brunch menu. Packed full of spinach, cheddar and mozzarella cheese with a subtle hint of nutmeg, this is a flavorful and easy dish for any brunch or dinner.

Crustless Spinach Quiche (serves 6)


6 eggs
3 cups chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 small Spanish onion, chopped or grated
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp paprika


Preheat oven to 350.

Combine eggs, milk and onion in a bowl. Add the chopped spinach, cheeses, pepper and paprika.

Butter a quiche dish and pour mixture into dish.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Enjoy your quiche, keep posted for another Royal Wedding Brunch recipe tomorrow!

- Lou

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Royal Wedding Brunch: Punch

Who's excited for the Royal Wedding? I sure am! My mother grew up in England, and my Grandmother as well, and they love the royals. My Grandmother once told me that Prince Charles talks to the plants in his garden...

Anyway, the big day is finally approaching, and the countdown has begun, which means that here at Living Lou this week is our Royal Wedding Extravaganza. We're hosting a Royal Wedding Brunch on Friday and check out the spread...

Royal Wedding Brunch Menu (for 6)
Salad of julienne vegetables
Crustless Spinach Quiche
Coddled Eggs and Bacon
Shrimp in Butter Garlic Sauce
Chocolate Pecan Torte

Keep checking back, I'll be posting a new recipe from the menu each day until Friday. Today is the kickoff and we're starting with the refreshing and sweet non alcoholic punch. Although, it is 5 o'clock somewhere so you can throw in a little tequila or some rum and it is bound to be tasty.

Non Alcoholic Punch (serves 6)


3 cups pineapple juice
3 + 1/4 cups cranberry juice
3 cups lemonade
3 cups orange juice
berries or pineapple for garnish


Pour all ingredients into a punch bowl or a serving jug. Garnish with sliced berries or fresh pineapple and let them float in the punch.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spicy Broccoli

When I was little I always hated broccoli. Actually, correction, I hated the idea of broccoli. It seems that at some point, all kids decide that broccoli is the most disgusting, repulsive, sickening vegetable on the planet. Luckily, I’ve matured (somewhat) since those days and now I wholeheartedly embrace broccoli in all it’s greeny goodness, and am proud to call it my favourite vegetable. I could seriously eat broccoli every day. Sometimes I’ll eat a steamed head of broccoli for dinner, I love it that much.

Now if you’re an adult and you still think broccoli is disgusting, repulsive and sickening, I challenge you to try this recipe. It’s a new take on the slightly boring steamed or boiled broccoli with a little butter. It reminds me a bit of my favourite Green Beans in Vinaigrette. This dish does not take long to make at all, and yields delicious, flavorful results. Garlic, hot chili pepper flakes and lots of cracked black pepper make this side dish delectable.

This side dish would go nicely with Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken Thighs or my Foolproof Sunday Roasted Chicken.

Spicy Broccoli (serves 2-4)
Recipe slightly adapted from: Martha Stewart


2 medium heads broccoli, chopped
2/3 cup water
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp hot chili pepper flakes
freshly cracked black pepper


In a pot or pan bring 2/3 cup of water to a simmer. Place chopped broccoli in the pot/pan, cover and cook for 4 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, garlic and hot chili pepper flakes.

Drain the excess water. And pour the oil mixture on top of the broccoli. Tossing to coat broccoli with flavouring.

Remove pot/pan from heat and add the vinegar.

Serve warm.

Enjoy your serving of vegetables today!

- Lou

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Bean Salad

Last time I checked it was Spring...almost a month into Spring I might add, so do you think we can forget about this sucky weather for a minute and just enjoy a fresh, bean salad? To me, bean salad is the quintessential dish during the warm months because a) it doesn’t require the use of an oven and b) it’s ready in oh, about 5 minutes.

It was only last year that I discovered my love for bean salad. I was chatting with a friend of mine on the phone and she was talking about the bean salad she had just made, this got me wondering: Bean Salad? What do you put in a bean salad? Why have I never had one? Has anyone seen my lip balm? Why do people hate on twilight when it’s actually a good movie?

So, I’ll leave you to ponder those questions while making my favourite and easiest bean salad. And like I said, try and forget the fact that just yesterday morning, I woke up to a blizzard outside my house. Mother Nature - figure it out!

Living Lou’s Bean Salad


1 28 oz can bean medley
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 green onions, sliced (white and green parts)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp thyme
salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste


Drain and rinse bean medley and put the beans in a serving bowl.

Slice the green onions. Mix the sliced green onions, crushed garlic and thyme in with the beans. Add oil and vinegar and toss to combine. Season with lots of freshly cracked pepper and a little salt.

Enjoy the bean salad and cross your fingers for winter to finally be finished.

- Lou

p.s I don't actually like Twilight.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Homemade Prune Puree

Prune puree may not be the best sounding, or the best looking thing in the world, but it's magical. Almost as magical as college acceptance letters... almost.

Did you know prune puree can replace the fat (i.e. butter or oil) in baking? And the best part...while cutting down on the fat, it doesn't change the flavor, and it keeps the baked goods perfectly moist. It truly is life changing.

I first got the idea from Martha Stewart, who uses prune puree in one of her brownie recipes. The brownies were so good, ever since I've been using prune puree often in my baking.

A prune is basically a dried plum. When dried they end up tasting rather sweet, and have a sticky texture. Prunes are a very dark brown, and when pureed with water it turns into a lighter brown as seen in the photo. Because of their dark colour, I find they work best in dark coloured desserts, (i.e. chocolate) so far I've baked them in my brownies and muffins (post coming).

Homemade Prune Puree (makes between 3/4-1 cup of puree)

1 cup (250g/8 oz) dried prunes
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp water


In a blender* combine water and dried prunes. Pulse until it has the texture of a sticky pure (I pulsed between 15-20 times!) It will be slightly thick, and may have a few chunks.

Store in a container in the fridge for 1 month.

* I tried using both a food processor and blender and I found that my blender worked best. Feel free to try your food processor though.

What are you going to bake this weekend with your prune puree?

- Lou

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

We’re less than one month away from Living Lou’s first birthday...did you know the first recipe I ever posted was for sweet potato fries? It seems pretty fitting that today I’m talking about my new, favourite recipe for sweet potato fries.

Sweet potato fries remind me of my mom because she loves them as much as I do. Often when we’re watching one of our favourite shows, I’ll make a batch of sweet potato fries for us to snack on. Not only are they fun to eat (who doesn’t love fries?) but they are really good for you as well. This year we’re watching season 2 of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution... and all I’m saying is that I’m so glad that I pack my own lunch.

These sweet potato fries are a little spicy, but full of exotic flavors which pair nicely with the sweetness of the potatoes. Not only do these make a great snack but they are a pretty nice side dish with dinner - kids will love them...who doesn’t love fries?

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries (4 servings)

2 medium sized sweet potatoes (each sweet potato should yield 2 servings), cut into matchsticks
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp each of paprika, cumin, chili powder and black pepper
1/4 tsp each of garlic powder, onion powder and salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper and cinnamon*

* omit the cayenne pepper if you don’t like spicy foods or are making for children.


Preheat oven to 425F.

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into desired size. I like to cut mine into thick matchsticks, or the classic french fry shape. Place fries in a large bowl.

Combine all the spices, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Whisk the two egg whites together and pour over the sweet potatoes. Using your hands to mix around making sure all the potatoes are evenly coated.

Pour the spice mixture over top of the sweet potatoes and toss to evenly distribute flavors.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, bake sweet potatoes for 20-25 minutes or until fully cooked.

What shows are you enjoying?

- Lou

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spinach Risotto

When my brain is on overload (i.e. senior year stress) there are certain things which help me deal with said work load, things like making risotto. The repetitive process of stirring the rice, adding liquid, then stirring again is very comforting. For about thirty minutes, instead of thinking about the 1.9 million things I need to do, all I have to focus on is risotto. And let me tell you, in the middle of 3 essays, one seminar and other homework assignments, 30 minutes of risotto making is an extremely welcome break.

When we received our weekly basket of organic produce, I was struck with an idea, inspiration was bubbling inside of me: risotto + spinach = perfect Meatless Monday meal. I'm not sure that I have ever mentioned my love for spinach, but it's a pretty deep relationship, and the best thing about it? It's mutual, unlike chocolate and um... more chocolate, spinach is good for the body as well. And well, everyone knows risotto is my favourite, so this really is a no brainer.

Spinach Risotto (serves 4)

1 cup Arborio rice
1 small onion, finely chopped or grated
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
3-4 cups warm water*
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 bunch fresh spinach, 8-10 oz chopped
salt & (lots of) pepper to taste

* I used water instead of vegetable/chicken stock to keep sodium levels down. Feel free to substitute stock instead, although using water did not hinder the flavors.


In a pot over medium heat bring the water to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and keep it warm.

Prepare onions and spinach.

In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the onion and saute until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add rice and stir until warm and coated in oil.

Pour in the wine and continue to stir as the rice absorbs the liquid.

When wine is fully absorbed begin adding the liquid. Add in 1 cup at a time, stirring consistently until the water is absorbed. Once water is absorbed, make another addition of water, and repeat until the rice grains are creamy on the outside and somewhat tender on the inside. (3-4 cups worth of liquid.) This entire process should take between 15-18 minutes.

When rice is cooked, remove from heat and add in spinach and Parmesan. Stirring to combine, spinach should wilt from the heat of the rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I find a lot of pepper adds a nice touch to this dish.

Have a great Meatless Monday everyone.

- Lou

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Brown Rice Broccoli and Sausage Pilaf

Dishes like this Brown Rice Broccoli and Sausage Pilaf are my favourite. Not only is it made in three easy steps, with very few ingredients, and made in one pot, but its flavor is also slightly exotic.

Cumin has to be one of my favourite spices, and if you're new to cumin, this dish serves as a great introduction. Sauteing the broccoli with the cumin is a way of subtly incorporating the flavor into this dish without overpowering the taste buds. This dish is relatively healthy, using brown rice and broccoli as its main components, I added in sausage to please my sister and father - but feel free to leave it out if you're looking for a vegetarian option.

Brown Rice Broccoli and Sausage Pilaf


1 cup brown rice
2 1/2 cups water
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 large head of broccoli, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1 tsp ground cumin
3-5 chicken, turkey or pork sausage links, cut into 1 inch pieces


Chop broccoli into bite size pieces. Finely dice garlic.

Step 1, cook the broccoli. Heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat in a medium pot (this pot will be used to cook the rice as well). Saute broccoli and cumin for 5-8 minutes, making sure broccoli is cooked through. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so until fragrant. Remove to a plate using a slotted spoon and reserve.

Step 2, cook sausages. Add 1/2 tbsp more oil to the pan if necessary, fry sausage pieces until fully cooked. Remove to the same plate as broccoli and reserve.

Step 3, cook rice. If necessary add the remaining 1/2 tbsp of oil to the pan. Toast rice for a minute. Add 2 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 40-45 minutes, or until no water remains and rice is fully cooked. Add the broccoli and sausage back to the rice and stir to combine.


- Lou

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Mushroom and Green Bean Pasta

Salty, sweet, crunchy, soft - this dish has a variety of flavors and textures. Is there anything else you could dream about for your Meatless Monday dinner?

This has to be one of mine (and my Mom’s) favourite dishes; it’s a quick and healthy way to dress up pasta with two of my favourite veggies - green beans and mushrooms! Sure, there’s a little butter and some Parmesan cheese but hey, live a little.

I’m sure other vegetables would taste delicious in here - red peppers and broccoli come to mind. I don’t think you could go wrong either way... this is just too good.

Mushroom and Green Bean Pasta (serves 4)


12 oz (340 g) short twisted pasta
1 cup (8 oz) shiitake mushrooms
4 oz green beans, cut in half
4 tbsp butter
1 small onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
2 tsp dried thyme
4 tbsp Parmesan cheese


Cook pasta as per directions on the box.

Prepare the vegetables: grate onion, chop garlic, wash and cut green beans in half, wash mushrooms.

Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a pan over medium-high heat, saute onion for 2 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

De glaze the pan with 1/4 cup white wine, scraping up all the bits at the bottom. Cook until the liquid has reduced by half.

Reduce heat to medium and add in the mushrooms, green beans and 1 tbsp of butter . Cook stirring a few times for 5 minutes. Add in 1/4 cup of water and cook for another 4 minutes. Adding the thyme partway through.

Turn the heat off and add in the remaining tbsp of butter and the Parmesan cheese.

Serve over cooked pasta.

Enjoy this Meatless Monday dish - it's my favourite!

- Lou

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