Where Has Summer Gone? A Blogging Hiatus and a Big Announcement

Monet's Gardens in Giverny, France // FoodNouveau.com
Snapshots of summer: Monet’s Gardens in Giverny, France

No, you’re not dreaming. It’s been months (!!) since I’ve posted on Food Nouveau! It’s the longest break from blogging that I’ve ever taken, and I’ve been feeling guilty about it every day.

It all started back in May, right after I came back from a trip to Paris with my mom, and I started working long hours on designing and producing the second issue of Quebec City’s food magazine, Fou des Foodies, which was published on June 13th (it’s a free digital magazine— in French—browse it online here!). As anybody who has ever worked on a magazine project will tell you, the last weeks before publication are always crazy. Even when everything goes well, it’s still a lot of work, and I juggled that project with the rest of my freelancing work. As weeks went by, I had to prioritize, and, unfortunately, Food Nouveau was the first to suffer.

Since then, I’ve had trouble getting back into it. With each week that passed, my blog began feeling like an old friend with whom you’ve lost contact for so long that you feel awkward about calling again. So much time has passed—where should I start? Should I pretend like nothing happened?

A narrow backstreet in Paris // FoodNouveau.com
Snapshots of summer: A narrow backstreet in Paris

The lake in front of our chalet in St-Férréol-les-Neiges, an hour out of Quebec City // FoodNouveau.com
Snapshots of summer: The lake in front of our chalet in St-Férréol-les-Neiges, an hour out of Québec City

Back in the spring, I received big (huge!) news too: I’m pregnant! It’s been a long time coming. E and I have been “working” on this project for years, and after high hopes, miscarriages, endless medical tests, and a constant roller coaster of emotions, it looks like we’ll finally be parents. I received a positive pregnancy test in late April while we were on vacation in Saba. For the first few months, I was feeling really stressed, and I quickly realized that worrying about the pregnancy and counting the days until I reached the three-month mark was eating up all of my free time. When I was working, it felt like I was on autopilot, going from one task to the next. Slowly, I lost the will to do the things I used to live for: cooking and writing. Thus, the hiatus.

Mind you, I didn’t spend all summer locked inside, sitting in a corner, doing nothing. I still cooked, but I made much simpler dishes, and I went back to “un-blogworthy” (but oh-so-delicious!) classics. Besides working, I did everything that I usually do, except blogging. Suddenly, thinking about my next post was the least of my worries, and taking pictures of the dishes that I ate in restaurants didn’t seem so important anymore—in fact, quite frankly, it felt liberating. Once, while E and I were enjoying an especially good meal, he asked, “Don’t you want to take pictures?” I realized then and there that I hadn’t even thought about it. I was on blogging vacation!

The beach in Santa Monica, California // FoodNouveau.com
Snapshots of summer: The beach in Santa Monica, California

So slowing down has been feeling really good, but now, it feels like the break has been long enough. This post is my commitment to getting back into the game. Starting next week, new recipes, how-tos, restaurant reviews, and travel posts will make a comeback, and my weekly Edible Cities column will return in September, with fresh, new contributors and even more travel inspiration.

How has your summer been? If you have suggestions or requests for the blog (or pregnancy tips, what have you!), as usual, please don’t hesitate to send me a line! It’ll be my greatest pleasure to hear from you, and it’ll only motivate me to make Food Nouveau a part of my daily routine again.

{Edible Cities} Naples, with Stephanie from Global Dish

{Edible Cities} Naples, with Stephanie from A Global Dish // FoodNouveau.com

Meet Stephanie Arsenault, a food and travel writer and photographer from Calgary, Canada. Besides writing her own food blog, Global Dish, Stephanie is the West Coast Editor at Eat In, Eat Out Magazine and a contributing editor at Taste & Travel Magazine. In her spare time, she loves to hike and bike, but she also enjoys spending a lazy afternoon on a sunny terrace, drinking a pint of local craft beer. Stephanie is also a passionate traveler and Italy is at the very top of her favorite worldwide spots. Here’s Naples, in her own words.

My Edible City

Stephanie Arsenault, food and travel writer and photographer // FoodNouveau.comNaples. It doesn’t feel sufficient to call Naples a city. It’s an entity in its own – with a personality, charisma, and intensity unlike any other. It’s one of the longest inhabited cities in the world, so it’s had plenty of time to perfect its persona.

The streets are narrow, grey-washed, bustling passages; old in age, but full of energy and excitement. White-haired men gather around small tables, playing games and sipping coffee while their female counterparts tend to their own affairs in nearby homes and shops. It smells of sea water, exhaust and garlic {in the greatest way possible}.

The city is quintessentially Italian, and intoxicating: it’s full of passion, it’s loud, and of course, it’s very core revolves around remarkable food… pizza, in particular. Sounds kind of perfect, doesn’t it?

My Favorite Dish

Margherita Pizza, Stephanie Arsenault's favorite dish in Naples, Italy // FoodNouveau.comMargherita Pizza. What better place to go for a Margherita Pizza than the city it was first created in? There are few things in life that compare to authentic Neapolitan-style Margherita Pizza. The thin, chewy crust, the tangy sauce made of vine-ripened San Marzano tomatoes, the pure flavour of delicate leaves of basil, topped with a generous drizzle of fragrant, locally made olive oil; and – oh! – you can’t forget the unmistakable taste of fresh mozzarella.

My first bite of a Neapolitan Margherita Pizza was in an alleyway near Sorbillo, one of the best pizzerias in Naples, and I’m amazed I even had the chance to try it. I {being the clumsy person I am} managed to smack my head pretty hard on a cab door by accident when my husband and I were trying to make our way from the train station to the downtown centre of the city – a smack that left me mildly concussed. When we finally made it to Sorbillo, we waited about forty-five minutes in the packed mid-afternoon crowd for our turn to order, and then took our boxes of pizza to a spot just off of the road, where we planned to dig in. We were quickly ushered aside, however, by an elderly man who laughed as he pointed at the pigeons perched directly above our heads {what an unpleasant pizza topping that would have been!}. Lastly, just as we were about to open the boxes, we dropped them. One of them opened, tragically thrusting the pizza on to the street, but the other one survived. It was then that we finally – albeit carefully, trying to prevent any more mishaps – bit into the glorious pizza. It was worth every bit of hassle, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat for just one more bite.

Useful Links

Also: Follow Stephanie on TwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

Photo Credits: Naples picture and Stephanie’s portrait by Stephanie Arsenault; Margherita pizza picture by I Am Jeffrey, via Flickr Creative Commons.

{Lighter} Fresh Raspberry Squares

{Lighter} Fresh Raspberry Squares // FoodNouveau.com

Want to know what summer tastes like? Bite into one of these squares. The berry cousin of lemon bars, they’re bursting with fresh, juicy and slightly tart raspberries, so they’re fruity and sweet, but not overly so. The use of a little cornstarch in the crust makes it super crisp (also allowing to reduce the amount of butter used in the recipe), and pecans contribute to balance out the bright flavor of the fruit. The filling is almost all raspberry, and again, a little cornstarch is used to thicken the mixture and allow it to set instead of additional egg yolks and butter, letting the fruit shine and making the dessert almost sinless. I like to serve the squares topped with additional fresh raspberries, but they’re absolutely fantastic on their own too.

Makes 9 squares

1 cup [250 ml] unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup [60 ml] ground pecan nuts
1/3 cup [80 ml] powdered (confectioners’) sugar
3 tbsp [45 ml] cornstarch
¼ tsp [1.25 ml] salt
3 tbsp [45 ml] canola oil
3 tbsp [30 ml] butter, softened

3 cups [750 ml] fresh raspberries (you can use frozen – not thawed – raspberries too)
1/3 cup [80 ml] water
2 tbsp [30 ml] freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 large eggs
1/3 cup [80 ml] granulated sugar
3 tbsp [45 ml] cornstarch
Pinch of salt

To serve (optional)
Powdered (confectioners’) sugar
Fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350°F [175°C]. Line an 8-inch [20-cm] square baking pan with parchment paper, letting it overhang on two sides.

For the crust: Combine flour, ground pecan nuts, powdered (confectioners’) sugar, cornstarch and ¼  teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Add oil and butter. Using a fork or your fingertips, blend into the flour mixture until evenly combined. The mixture should be a little crumbly. Firmly press the dough into the prepared pan. Bake until just barely beginning to brown around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes.

For the filling: While the crust is baking, combine raspberries and water in a medium saucepan. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the fruit is very soft and mostly broken down, 4 to 6 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl, pressing on the solids to extract all the liquid. Discard the seeds. Pour the strained juice into a measuring cup. You need 1 cup strained juice; remove any extra or add a little water if you are short. Stir in lemon juice.

Whisk granulated sugar, cornstarch and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl until well combined. Whisk in eggs. Stir in the juice mixture, pouring it slowly into the egg mixture while beating constantly. Pour the filling over the crust.

Bake until just set, 15 to 20 minutes. (The center should still be a little jiggly—it will firm up as it cools.) Let cool to room temperature in the pan on a wire rack, about 1 ½ hours. Gently slide a sharp knife along the edges of the pan that are not covered with parchment paper, and lift out of the pan all in one piece using the edges of the parchment paper. Cut into 9 squares.

Dust with powdered (confectioners’) sugar and garnish with fresh raspberries, if desired, just before serving. Keep remaining squares in an airtight container (in a single layer) in the fridge and eat within 3 days.

Recipe Credit: Adapted from Eating Well Magazine.

Download this recipe in PDF format - Food Nouveau

{Edible Cities} Eugene, Oregon, with Melissa from Lulu the Baker

{Edible Cities} Eugene, Oregon, with Melissa from Lulu the Baker // FoodNouveau.com

Meet Melissa Bahen, food blogger, from Willamette Valley, Oregon. Melissa has learned to cook in her mom’s kitchen, who learned to cook in her mom’s kitchen. This passion for homemade food, passed down from generation to generation, has made Melissa’s life revolve around meals: one of her favorite things to do is plan out her family’s weekly menu. She started her blog, Lulu the Baker, in 2008 as a place to collect her family’s favorite recipes. Here’s Eugene, Oregon, in her own words.

My Edible City

Melissa Bahen, food blogger on Lulu the Baker // FoodNouveau.comEugene, Oregon. My husband and I moved to Eugene over 6 years ago when our oldest daughter was just 10 months old. We didn’t know anyone here or have any family nearby, but we felt at home immediately in this funny, friendly little college town. Eugene has so many things that we love: you can cross town in 30 minutes or less even on the busiest day; it’s surrounded by beautiful farmland, and you can go 15 minutes in any direction and find a farm stand, orchard, or u-pick farm; and it has such a nice, small-town atmosphere–we rarely go out to dinner or run errands without running into someone we know! And we somehow talked both sets of parents into moving here too. So now, in addition to the friendly people and beautiful scenery that we like so much, we are surrounded by so many of the people we love! We are very lucky to call this beautiful corner of the world home.

My Favorite Dish

Cheeseburger from Dickie Jo's, Melissa Bahen's favorite food in Eugene, Oregon // FoodNouveau.comCheeseburger, onion rings, and homemade ranch from Dickie Jo’s Burgers. I love a good hamburger, and in my opinion, Dickie Jo’s has the best burgers in town! They make their own buns, which I think makes a huge difference, and use beef from the Pacific Northwest. I always like to know where my meat is coming from! They make crazy-good garlic fries, but I’m especially partial to the onion rings that they serve with this amazing, garlicky housemade ranch. And they have really good shakes and root beer floats too. When they first opened, their menu was pretty small, but they’ve since expanded it to include classic American diner fare like BLT’s, wedge salads, and chili dogs. And I’ve snuck more than a few of the Ritz cracker-coated chicken fingers off my children’s plates, and they are so delicious! You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu–it’s all fantastic!

Useful Links

Also: Follow Melissa on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest.

Photo Credits: All pictures by Melissa Bahen.

Lobster Cannelloni with Pesto, Rosé Sauce and Toasted Pine Nuts {and a tasty giveaway!}

Lobster Cannelloni with Pesto, Rosé Sauce and Toasted Pine Nuts // Food Nouveau

This week’s recipe serves one of the most luxurious ingredients of the season, lobster, in an elegant but super easy way. Cannelloni can take a while to make, but if you take a couple of shortcuts by using high-quality, ready-to-use ingredients, you end up with a fantastic tasting dish whipped up in a very short amount of time.

My shortcuts for this recipe? The best dried Italian pasta and high-quality ready-made pesto and rosé sauce. As much as I love pesto, the truth is that I almost never make it at home because buying enough fresh basil to make a batch would cost me a week’s worth of groceries, and I’m plagued with the inability to grow my own (it always, always, dies on me – I can’t seem to do anything about it). Also, I confess: ever since I discovered Maison Le Grand’s line of raw pestos and sauces, I haven’t really felt the need to make my own. Their pestos are so bright and fresh, they really do taste like they were just coming out of my food processor. They’re one of the very few convenience foods I actually buy at the grocery store.

Maison Le Grand recently expended their line of pestos with new rosé sauces and they contacted me to see if I was interested in having a taste. (Full disclosure: this is not a sponsored post. The products I’ve used to make this recipe were provided for free, but the content of this post and my opinions are entirely mine). Being a long-time fan of their products, I quickly accepted – especially since the new sauces were dairy-free. Yes, dairy-free rosé sauces! My lactose-intolerant tummy allows me a small quantity of dairy products daily (like grated parmesan cheese over pasta, for example), but I absolutely cannot digest cream-based dishes and sauces. I have made rosé sauce before, both using soy cream and lactose-free cream, but it was the first time I heard of commercially made lactose-free rosé sauces.

The new sauces didn’t disappoint: they taste fresh, they’re well seasoned and… they make up a meal in no time! My favorite is the Rustic variety (with chunks of roasted bell peppers, caramelized onions and sun-dried tomatoes), but for my Lobster Cannelloni recipe, I went the classic route. I simply mixed the freshly cooked lobster meat with pesto, mixed in some toasted pine nuts, and cooked the pasta in a little rosé sauce. I believe the restraint use of seasonings and sauces lets the lobster’s delicate flavor shine through beautifully. A new spring classic in my house!

Of course, you can really make this dish your own by rolling out your own pasta, and making your own pesto and rosé sauce… But if you go the easy way, like I did, I won’t tell anyone, I promise.

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