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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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Fragrant Red Lentil and Tomato Soup

Fragrant Red Lentil and Tomato Soup // FoodNouveau.com

Soup is always an easy answer at my house. Don’t feel like cooking? A steaming Asian soup filled with leftover chicken and veggies it is. Not so hungry for lunch? We go for a cup of blended veggie soup with a slice of bread and a piece of cheese. I always try to have a variety of portioned soups in the freezer as I feel they’re the ultimate last minute meal solution. Plus, I never ever feel like I don’t want to eat soup. It’s a sure shot.

This particular soup is one of our favorites. It’s hearty enough to hold you until the next meal, it’s super flavorful and rich tasting, and it freezes wonderfully. If you’re not such a lentil lover, know that red lentils are not only prettier to look at than the green or brown varieties, they also have a creamier texture and a milder taste. This recipe serves 2 to 3, but I always double (or even triple) it. What’s chopping a little more veggies now if your effort’s going to produce a few more delicious, ready-made meals for later?

Serves 2-3

1 tbsp [15 ml] olive oil
1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
1 tsp [5 ml] ground cumin
½ tsp. [2.5 ml] ground turmeric
½ tsp. [2.5 ml] ground allspice
½ tbsp. [7 ml] finely grated fresh ginger
2½ cups [625 ml] vegetable broth (you can use chicken broth too)
½ cup [125 ml] red lentils
1 large rib celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
4 plum tomatoes, chopped (set aside one of the four chopped tomatoes)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the cumin, turmeric, allspice, and ginger and cook, stirring continuously until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the broth, lentils, celery, carrot and 3 of the 4 chopped plum tomatoes. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and let the soup simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Add the remaining tomato and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Let the soup simmer until the tomato is heated through, a couple of minutes. Serve sprinkled with fresh coriander leaves, or let the soup cool completely, portion and freeze in airtight plastic containers.

Recipe Credit: Adapted from Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel, Eating Well When You’re Expecting

Download this recipe in PDF format - Food Nouveau

More Hearty Soup Inspiration:

Citrus Mousse with Macerated Strawberries

Citrus Mousse with Macerated Strawberries //  FoodNouveau.com

I’ve never eaten as many strawberries as I have this year. They’re a staple at breakfast, and we’ve been devouring our way through dozens of baskets since late June. Here in Quebec, the height of the strawberry season in early July, but in late August come the “Fall strawberries”, which many consider even more flavorful, sweeter and juicy than their earlier counterparts. It is indeed the case this year, and I’ve been trying as many strawberry-based recipes as possible to make the most of the ruby-red fruit post-breakfast.

I like to enjoy strawberries fresh as opposed to cooked or baked to preserve their juicy nature and delicate texture. This verrine balances the sweetness of the berries with the tanginess of citrus in a flavor combination that can best be described as heavenly. The mousse is airy, not stuffy or heavy, and the maceration process turns the strawberries into flavor bombs. I like to enjoy this mousse with butter cookies, which should generously be dipped in the delicious concoction.

Makes 8 to 10 small verrines.

For the Citrus Mousse
6 large eggs
1 cup [250 ml] granulated sugar
½ tsp [2.5 ml] salt
¾ cup [180 ml] freshly squeezed juice from lemons and limes (I use 2/3 lemon for 1/3 lime, but feel free to play around with the proportions)
Finely grated zest from all the lemons and limes used (grate the zest before squeezing the juice, it’s much easier)
¾ cup [180 ml] heavy cream
1 tsp [5 ml] pure vanilla extract

For the Macerated Strawberries
1 lb [454 g] fresh strawberries, washed, dried and thinly sliced
¼ cup [60 ml] sugar
1 tbsp [15 ml] orange-flavored liqueur (such as Grand Marnier)
1 tsp [5 ml] fresh mint leaves, very finely chopped

To make the mousse: In a non-reactive saucepan, which together 3 eggs, 3 yolks (reserving the 3 remaining whites in a small bowl), ¾ cup [180 ml] sugar, salt, citrus juice and zest. Cook over medium heat while stirring constantly until the mixture thickens like pudding, about 10 minutes.

Pass the citrus curd through a fine mesh strainer into a large mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it’s cool. (The curd can be made up to 2 days ahead).

To make the strawberries: Mix the berries, sugar, liqueur and mint in a bowl. Let the berries sit for at least 30 minutes so they release some of their juices.

To assemble the verrines: Whip the egg whites and remaining ¼ cup [60 ml] sugar until stiff peaks form.

Add a third of the whipped egg whites to the chilled citrus curd and mix to lighten the texture of the curd. Gently fold the remaining egg whites in.

Whip the heavy cream with the vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the citrus mousse. Fold until the cream is smoothly incorporated.

Divide the macerated strawberries between the verrines, saving about ½ cup [125 ml] to top each portion. Fill the verrines with citrus mousse, top with the remaining strawberries and top with fresh mint leaves, if desired. Serve immediately or chill until service.

Recipe Credit: Adapted from Zoë François.

Download this recipe in PDF format - Food Nouveau

More Strawberry Inspiration: