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Help Me Discover the Best Kitchen Apps (and Win a Nexus 7 Tablet!)

Your New Best Friend in the Kitchen: Win a Nexus 7 Tablet // FoodNouveau.com

If you spied on me while I’m cooking in the kitchen, you’d likely see this scene: lots and lots of dirty dishes, food on the ground, a mountain of ingredients piled on the kitchen island, a corner of the butcher block kept clean for chopping – and a tablet set precariously on top of it all. Whether I use it to watch TV shows while I’m cooking or do a quick search for an ingredient substitution, my tablet is my best friend in the kitchen.

Up to now, the tablet I’ve been using is an iPad Mini, but recently Staples.ca have generously offered me the chance to test drive a brand new Nexus 7 tablet, which is Google’s latest and greatest release in the tablet world. While I’m still on the learning curve of using Android, I’m loving the way Google’s suite of tools (Gmail, Drive, Maps, etc.) is integrated into the operating system because they’re such an important part of my daily life, both as a freelancer and a food blogger. Also, I’m charmed by the tablet’s form factor: it’s as tall as my iPad Mini but a little narrower, which allows me to hold it comfortably with one hand. It also makes for a gorgeous wide-screen display once turned to the side. And speaking of gorgeous, the quality of the display is breathtaking: the colors are popping and the pixels are simply unnoticeable. Finally, the back of the tablet is covered in a matte black anti-scratch and anti-slip material, which allows me to use it without a protective case or cover, making it slimmer and lighter to carry.

While I’m still browsing through the Google Play store to discover Android apps that will make my life easier in the kitchen, I’m hoping you’ll help me through that process because guess what? I’m giving away one nifty Nexus 7 tablet to a lucky Canadian Food Nouveau reader, thanks to Staples.ca! Yes, you got that right: the winner of the tablet will be picked from the entries on this post, which makes your chances of winning incredibly high. Christmas has come early this year!

To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget below. There are several ways to enter the giveaway, so make sure to use as many as you like to increase your chances to win!

Important notes:

  • The giveaway is open to Canadian readers only (sorry US and worldwide friends!);
  • The lucky winner gets an ASUS Nexus 7 16 GB tablet (a $250 value!), which will be shipped directly by Staples.ca;
  • The giveaway period ends on December 16, 2013 at 1:00 PM (Eastern time).

Best of luck to all!

Many thanks to Staples.ca for making this giveaway possible!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kale, Sausage, and White Beans Soup

Kale, Sausage, and White Beans Soup // FoodNouveau.com

I’m in a bit of a food-hoarding mood these days, preparing for the upcoming baby. It seems like all moms I’ve ever chatted with have told me that freezing meals in the last few weeks before delivery was the best thing they did, so I’ve been flipping through our “Favorite Recipes” binder to pick dishes that can withstand freezing and still taste as delicious and satisfying once reheated. This is one such soup. Not only is it hearty enough to make a meal, but also its flavor is balanced and elegant so you could even serve it to company for a holiday lunch. Make a pot for a crowd, or split it in portions for many delectable meals to come.

Serves 6 to 8.

2 lbs [907 g] veal or Italian sausage
2 tbsp [30 ml] extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp [5 ml] chili pepper flakes
1 bunch kale, trimmed, chopped in small pieces
6 cups chicken stock
1 13.5 oz [398 ml] can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup [250 ml] cooked barley (or rice, or orzo)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve
Shaved parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Take the sausage meat out of the casings. Pinch off little sections of meat and roll them into mini-meatballs. That’ll make lots of meatballs, but that’s exactly what you want!

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the sausage meatballs until they are brown all over, about 7 minutes (work in batches, if necessary). Use a slotted spoon to take the meatballs out of the skillet and into a plate. Reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and chili pepper flakes to the pot and sauté for a minute. Add the chopped kale and sauté until the kale is slightly wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and cannellini beans, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cooked barley, mix well and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle into bowls and serve sprinkled with shaved parmigiano-reggiano cheese.

Download this recipe in PDF format - Food Nouveau

Say Hello to Tiny Farmhouse!

The All-New TinyFarmhouse.com // FoodNouveau.com

Back in March, food blogger, cookbook author and friend Amy McCoy contacted me to enquire if I’d like to help her create her new blog, Tiny Farmhouse. I barely took a breath before saying YES! I had met Amy a couple of years before at a conference and quickly fell under her charms. You see, meeting a warm, friendly person like Amy at an overcrowded conference is a gift for a shy, reserved person like me who is used to spending days meeting no one else but her cat (hello me!). She introduced me to lots of people who became friends and her heartfelt hellos often saved me from loneliness, allowing me to believe that conferences could, in fact, do me good (something I was very much doubtful of).

Amy is a fine but frugal cook and her first book, Poor Girl Gourmet: Eat in Style on a Bare-Bones Budget, shared tips for making deeply satisfying and sophisticated dishes without spending a fortune. On the accompanying blog, Amy published the recipes she’d created, often with produce she harvested herself. It was only natural that her posts evolved to include gardening tips and, as she and her husband JR built and developed their own farm on the East Coast, her adventures as a budding farmer. Today, I’d say their menagerie is pretty complete with chickens, hens, turkeys, bees and even (super cute) pigs.

So my role was to help Amy transition from Poor Girl Gourmet to her new blog, Tiny Farmhouse. Together, we worked on several graphic avenues, using her logo’s two shades of blue as the main theme. Amy loves color and rustic things, but she wanted her site to have “a lot of white space and a clean design.” We started working with different graphic attributes such as sketches, textured backgrounds, badges and patterns, but the more we stripped the site down, the more we both loved it. The “white on white on white” styling Amy selected as her final design choice was perfect for showcasing her colorful pictures and her recipes, which, in the end, are the stars of her blog.

Design Mockups for TinyFarmhouse.com // FoodNouveau.com

Another important aspect of this project was to transition Amy from Blogger to WordPress.org, a platform that would provide much more flexibility and growth potential. I created her theme from scratch and tweaked every little detail to her liking. I have to say that I have an obsessive eye for detail, and Amy is probably the first client I ever had who agreed with my wanting to make everything perfectly centered, aligned and spaced. I loved working for someone who noticed all those little details, which, in my opinion, make all the difference in the world.

Amy was the perfect client for me because not only did she need help with the web design and with the WordPress platform, but she’s a food blogger. I want to work more and more with clients from the food industry up to the point of making it my specialty, so Tiny Farmhouse is certainly a step in the right direction.

If you haven’t done so already, make sure you visit Amy’s brand new site and tell us what you think! Have fun browsing through all her recipes – she has lots that are especially suited for this time of year (Cooler nights! Need for comfort! Thanksgiving!). To whet your appetite, here are a few of my fall favorites. Bon appétit!

P.S. If you’re thinking about redesigning your site too, I’m here to help! Send me a line so we can start the discussion.

All pictures by Amy McCoy. Click on each picture to get to the recipe.

Savory Ricotta Fritters by Amy McCoy // FoodNouveau.com  Sicilian-Style Roasted Cauliflower by Amy McCoy // FoodNouveau.com

Maple-Carrot Puree with Pomegranate and Walnuts by Amy McCoy // FoodNouveau.com  Squash Ravioli in a Maple-Cream Sauce by Amy McCoy // FoodNouveau.com

Maple-Mustard Marinated Pork Tenderloin by Amy McCoy // FoodNouveau.com  Potato and Rosemary Focaccia by Amy McCoy // FoodNouveau.com

Sweet Potato-Crystalized Ginger Cookies by Amy McCoy // FoodNouveau.com  Egg Nog Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream by Amy McCoy // FoodNouveau.com

Pumpkin Scones with Ginger Honey Glaze by Amy McCoy // FoodNouveau.com  Pumpkin-Pear Cake with Ginger Frosting by Amy McCoy // FoodNouveau.com

Pumpkin-Shrimp Curry

Pumpkin-Shrimp Curry // FoodNouveau.com

While testing this week’s recipe, I had the chance to play around with new Umbra toys in my kitchen. For those of you who don’t know Umbra, they’re a Canadian company that has grown to become a reference in modern design for the home. Not unlike other well-known European companies, they hire industrial designers to create or reinvent clever accessories, but the good thing is that their creations are super affordable. I have been a fan for many years (I especially like their bathroom collection, because finding cool and beautiful accessories for that room is otherwise impossible very hard), and last week, I had the chance to test some of their newest accessories for the kitchen.

When I cook, I’m a huge fan of doing all the prep in advance. Like in cooking shows, I put every ingredient in a small bowl, ready to be used. I know, it makes for a lot of dishes to wash (just ask E, I can create a mountain of dirty dishes in a few minutes flat), but the system just works for me. This is probably why I fell love with the Bento Cup & Prep Set at first sight. A bamboo cutting board tightly covers a tray that fits five smaller containers, which cleverly double as measuring cups. The tray itself is mounted on rubber pads making the bamboo board a safe and very stable cutting surface. Of course, the fact that the whole set looks like a beautiful Japanese lacquered bento box doesn’t hurt either.

Testing Umbra's Bento Cup & Prep Set // FoodNouveau.com

As I prepped all the ingredients for the curry, I noticed how easy it was to incorporate the Bento system in my routine. I took the smaller trays out and lined them up in front of the cutting board. As I chopped the ingredients, I simply swept each of them in their own container, knowing exactly when I had reached the quantity I needed for the recipe. Because I was prepping in advance, I then stored all the ingredients in the tray, covered it over with the board and put the whole set in the fridge while waiting for E to come home. Now where were the cameras? I was ready to film my cooking show!

Testing out Umbra's Bento Cup & Prep Set // FoodNouveau.com

I’m usually not a fan of allowing new gadgets to enter my kitchen (my drawers are already chock full of them), but when it works, I just can’t resist. I’ve been using the Bento set regularly since; my only regret is that it’s not dishwasher safe, but I assure you, the containers’ smooth surfaces makes them a pinch to wash – otherwise I would’ve given up a long time ago.
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{Book Review} Mastering the Art of French Eating (plus a Q&A with the author and a giveaway!)

Enter to win a copy of Mastering the Art of French Eating, a memoir by Ann Mah // FoodNouveau.com

Ah, France. I have become aware of how fascinating that country is to so many people from around the world since the day I first started my blog. My posts related to French cuisine or tourism always gather more reactions, and so do the Instagram pictures I snap when I’m in Paris. Of course, the reason that I write about France is because I’m a Francophile too. How can a French-Canadian be a Francophile, you might ask? Well, the France bug may bite us even harder because of our history, our mother tongue, and a curiosity to learn where we come from.

To make the wait between each of my trips to my mother country more bearable, I enjoy collecting and reading memoirs written by expats who visited or lived in France for a period of time. The most recent of such tales is Mastering the Art of French Eating, written by food and travel writer Ann Mah. Ann is married to a diplomat, Calvin, and they were assigned to Paris for three years starting in 2008. Paris was Ann and Calvin’s dream post, but unfortunately, their fairy tale was short-lived: they had barely dropped their bags in Paris when Ann’s husband was sent to Iraq for a year. Arriving with the romantic plan of exploring a new city hand-in-hand with her French-speaking husband, Ann suddenly found herself navigating a new culture on her own while trying to keep her worry and loneliness at bay. Where did Ann find her salvation? Why, in food, of course!

Paris on a cloudy day // FoodNouveau.com

For a year, Ann traveled all over France to learn everything about 10 of the country’s most famous culinary specialties, from Brittany’s crêpes and Haute-Savoie’s fondue to Burgundy’s boeuf bourguignon and Provence’s soupe au pistou. In her book, she covers one dish per chapter, providing little known historical information and tales of her adventures in each region, allowing her readers to meet the fascinating characters with whom she crossed paths along the way. Each chapter is also crowned with a recipe, and she makes it possible to recreate each dish at home in an authentic way, even if you’ve never tasted the original before. Ann provides tips for success and even substitutes for ingredients that might be hard to find outside of France.

Intertwined in this culinary tale are touching tidbits of Ann’s evolving life in Paris, from her lonely evenings and long-awaited Skype calls with her husband to cultural blunders (bien sûr), shining a light on a more realistic portrait of diplomatic life. How can one be sad in Paris? The charm of her memoir resides precisely in the heart-wrenching contrast between her dream life in the gorgeous city of lovers and the deep loneliness that she finds herself ironically stuck with shortly after getting there—a solitude she’ll slowly climb out of, one dish at a time.

Mastering the Art of French Eating is a book that every Francophile, food lover, and travel buff should read. Whether you’ve been to France or you’re still dreaming of visiting, whether you’re a French cuisine expert or a complete novice (hey, I won’t blame you if andouillette hasn’t made its way to your plate yet), you’ll be charmed by Ann’s tale and close the book realizing you’ve learned much more than you expected you would.

Mastering the Art of French Eating is out now! Pre-order your copy, or learn more about the book through Ann’s website.

To whet your appetite, I have asked Ann to answer a few questions about her trips to Paris, her favorite dish from the book, and her current life in New York City with her husband and newborn girl. Take note: she even graciously provides us with her favorite addresses in Paris!

Psst… Don’t miss the chance to win one of two copies of Ann’s Mastering the Art of French Eating. The giveaway is now over. Thanks for entering!

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