Friday, August 30, 2013

Travelling in the Kitchen

I go travelling in my kitchen.

I go travelling in my kitchen and I enjoy long romantic walks to the fridge. 

I love to prepare dishes that I have never seen or heard of simply because they come from a country or a place that I would like to visit. I stumbled upon a recipe last year that I just HAD to try: Socca. Socca is a crêpe-like street food that is typical if Southeastern France. It is made out of chick pea flour and olive oil. 

As I read the recipe, I could just picture myself being in a busy sun-filled market in the South of France, drinking a glass (or 2... or 3) of Rosé and eating Socca with my hands (as the recipe suggested). I needed to go on this "culinary journey".

When I made the recipe, I was quickly transported. As silly as it sounds, I felt like I had already been to the South of France and that I was reliving a moment. My imagination often takes me far far away. 

This is how my kitchen travelling began! I take these little "journeys" once in a while because I can't expect to travel and go to New York City EVERY weekend!! ;)  

I don't know if this recipe will "transport" you but it's worth a try! It's absolutely delicious, (gluten-free !) and can even act as a great base for pizza. 



- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp water
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil (divided 1 1/2 tbsp and 1 tbsp)

Mix chickpea flour, water, salt, cumin and 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Let the batter rest for at least two hours covered and at room temperature.

Heat your broiler. Oil a cast iron pan (or a metal pie pan) with the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil and place it in the hot oven. You want the pan to be burning hot.

Put a ladleful of the socca mixture in the hot pan and swirl it around to cover the whole surface. Put it in the broiler until socca is firm and beginning to blister and become crispy around the edges. Keep your eye on it. It takes a few minutes.

Enfin!! Top with salt and pepper, cut in squares or triangles (like a pizza) and devour (with your hands because it's street food  ) with a side of cold rosé or white wine. Bon voyage ! (?) 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

1,222 kms later...

Mr. A and I are back from an amazing weekend in NYC! Yes, I went to NYC again and I am as surprised as you are. It was Mr. A's birthday and friends of his were in NYC so we packed our bags, I put my co-pilot hat on (I'm getting pretty good at this co-piloting thing!), popped a few anti-nausea pills (because the people who know me know how motion sick I get!) and we drove to NYC talking, laughing, sometimes trying to stay awake and "singing" our own versions of the songs on the radio (and rocking it!)

We met so many wonderful people, ate so much delicious, mouth watering food, saw such amazing things and created lovely memories!
1,222 kms later, I'm back home and knowing that I won't be returning to that chaotically beautiful city anytime soon, I feel a little sad. There is a New York City shaped void in my heart and am not sure how to fill it. I tried eating a big apple (get it? New York=Big Apple. Ha Ha!) That's a lie by the way... I just wanted to jump on the opportunity to make a cheesy/bad joke. The only way I am filling the void now is by watching TV shows and movies that are in NYC. I got the idea from my sister and it seems to be working for now!
Do you want to know what NYC souvenir I came back with this time? A cake/pastry box! It's empty now but it was filled with delicious goodies! It isn't just any cake box, it is a CAKE BOSS box. For those of you who don't know, Cake Boss is a television series where they make gorgeous custom cakes and baked goods. I walked in the café and felt at home. As the Pastry Gods called me, I made my way to see the selection of treats and had to fight with all my might to not tell the guy behind the counter "Give me one of each!".

We (only) got two treats: A Nutella-filled Linzer Cookie and a Lobster Tail. The Lobster Tail was so crispy and was filled with delicious pastry cream; I don't think I need to describe how tasty the buttery Linzer Cookie was... all I need to say is NUTELLA.  

The delicious treats that we devoured in 5 minutes at the Cake Boss Café

Here is the recipe for delicious, buttery Linzer cookies.

Nutella-filled Linzer Cookies
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup Nutella (or any other spread or jam that you like)
  1. Beat the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks and add the lemon zest, vanilla and almond extract. Beat in the ground almonds.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and salt and add this to the butter mixture, stirring until blended. Shape the dough into 2 discs (the dough will be soft), wrap and chill until firm (at least an hour.)
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  4. Knead the cookie dough to soften it (this will help prevent the dough from cracking when rolled). Roll out the first disc on a lightly floured surface and cut out cookies using a cutter and place them on one baking tray. Re-roll the dough until it is finished (or eat the cookie dough!). Roll out the second disc, cut out cookies using the same cutter, then cut a hole in the centre of each of  using a cutter a 1/2inch smaller and place on the second tray. Repeat with any remaining dough (or keep eating the cookie dough!), keeping track so you have the same number of tops and bottoms. Bake the hole-less cookies for about 15 minutes and the cookies with holes for about 17 minutes. Cool the cookies on the tray before filling with the spread and jam of your choice.

recipe adapted from Anna Olson's

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Big Girl Panties!

I had a wonderful professor in my last year of University. She guided me during my internship. In our first class together, she had said "This internship is not going to be easy. For the first time for some of you, you will be switching from the "Student Status"  you know so well to a "Professional Status". It's going to be different than what you are use to; it's going to be new, it's going to be stressful and it's going to be a big change. Change is difficult and scary... but PUT ON YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES AND JUST DO IT!"

I am not the type of person who does not like change, but I am the type of person who gets somewhat scared and nervous when faced with something new and different. I think I handle it well though most times sometimes.

Someone I know who has an amazing and very amusing blog (please read about her  hilarious motherhood adventures at asked me yesterday if I would guest blog for her and if I would be interested in participating in one of her future projects. My first thought was "Wow! I'm so flattered!". My second thought was "Oh my! This is new!! Can I do this?"

Now, every time I start questioning my strength and my abilities, I tell myself that it's Big-Girl-Panty-Time! Because really, what is so scary and nerve racking about doing something new? Are we scared of failure? Are we scared of not meeting expectations? And what do we gain from not trying anything new? Nothing!

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
                                                                                                - Nelson Mandela

So because we have our Big Girl (and Big Boy) Panties on, here is the recipe of a candy made for Big Girls and Boys!

Fleur de Sel Caramels
Recipe from Ina Garten. Tested and approved by The Prep Wife :)

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then brush the paper lightly with oil, allowing the paper to drape over 2 sides.
In a deep saucepan (6 inches diameter x 4 1/2 inches deep), stir together 1/4 cup water with the sugar and corn syrup and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown color. Don't stir - just swirl the pan to mix. Watch carefully, as it will burn quickly at the end!
In the meantime, in a small pan, bring the cream, butter, and 1 teaspoon of fleur de sel to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set aside.
When the sugar mixture is a warm golden color, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Be careful! It will bubble up violently. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees (firm ball) on a candy thermometer. Very carefully (it's hot!) pour the caramel into the prepared pan and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.
When the caramels are cold, pry the sheet from the pan onto a cutting board. Cut the sheet in half. Starting with the long end, roll the caramel up tightly into an 8-inch log. Repeat with the second piece. Sprinkle both logs with fleur de sel, trim the ends, and cut each log in 8 pieces. Cut glacene or parchment papers into squares and wrap each caramel in a paper, twisting the ends. Store in the refrigerator and serve the caramels chilled.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Just honk and GO!

I am back from a wonderful weekend in New York City with my family. Out of all things to do and to buy in NYC, I went grocery shopping! I was there for almost 3 days and I went to the grocery store twice! I always enjoy going to the grocery store when I am in another country (which is not too often). One of the reasons I like to go is to feel like a local and to get a tiny taste of what it's like to live there.

There was a Trader Joe's a few blocks away from our hotel. I had never heard of this place until my sister told me. Have any of you ever been there? It's amazing and so cheap!! I found my grocery shopping experience just as exciting and fun as sight seeing. As I walked down the aisles, I filled my cart with so many goodies. I had to take a lot of it out. Either we would not have time to eat it or I would not have been able to carry it all back to the hotel. As I got to the cash (after a looong lineup), the cashier asked me if I wanted paper or plastic bags. I asked for the sturdiest one so she replied by saying that she would give me paper bags. She then asked me if one bag is enough to which I replied "do you charge for bags?". (They charge for bags in Montreal). She couldn't help but laugh and quickly asked "Where are you from?" Remember when I said that one of the reasons I like to go to grocery stores is to feel like a local? Well the cashier's reaction confirmed that I was NOT a local. I took my big bag of goodies and made my way back (walking fast like the locals).

I came home with one souvenir from our trip. A delicious jar of Cocoa and Almond spread (and a half eaten bag of mini bagels).

As I was walking down the streets of New York, I was asking myself why so many people (including me) love this city so much. It's noisy, it's crowded, it's dirty, it smells like garbage and urine and the people are rude! Everything moves so fast (too fast!) in NYC. I remember when I was in Times Square, a car was trying to turn on a green light. A stampede of people were rushing by the intersection. Despite his best efforts, the driver was slowing down the already slow traffic. I found it hilarious when the lady who was controlling the traffic was screaming at the driver "Just honk and go! Just honk and GO! SIR... JUST HONK AND GO!!!"

In honor of this beautifully chaotic city, here is the recipe of one of its most popular street foods: Pretzels!

Soft Pretzels

1 cup warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups flour (plus more for dusting)
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda
Coarse salt
4 tbsp melted butter

Warm milk in a saucepan until it is about 100-110F. Transfer milk to a mixing bowl and sprinkle yeast. Stir to dissolve. Let the yeast soften for a few minutes. Add sugar, salt and stir to dissolve. Add flour and knead dough until smooth and elastic. Let rise at least 1/2 hour.

While dough is rising, prepare a baking soda-water bath with 2 cups warm water and 2 tbsp baking soda. Stir often. After dough has risen, pinch off bits of dough and roll into a long rope (about 1/2 inch or less thick) and shape. Dip pretzel in baking soda-water bath and let it poach for about 20 seconds. Place on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt. Allow pretzels to rise again. Bake in 450F oven for about 10 minutes or until golden. Coat warm pretzels with melted butter, let the butter dry for a minute and ENJOY!

(best if eaten the same day)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Prep Wife

The Prep Wife

Just a light and fun blog—talking about anything and everything… and food!

Hi! I’m Tania and welcome to "The Prep Wife"! People who know me know that I really love to cook (and eat!). “The Prep Wife” is a reflection of me. Relatable and honest, I really intend to keep this blog light and fun all the while sharing recipes and talking about anything and everything.

I contemplated long and hard about writing a blog. What would I write about?  Would I write about myself? Would I write about food (I love cooking!)?  Life?  Why would I write a blog? Well… Why not!?! I’m always thinking, always trying to improve, always questioning and trying to understand things. I crossed this picture (see below) a few weeks ago & I couldn’t help but smile.  It said “If you ever wanna know what a woman’s mind feels like, imagine a browser with 2,857 tabs open. All. The. Time.”

Of course it’s exaggerated but it’s more accurate than you may think! I thought it would be great to have an outlet for the “2,857 open tabs” that are on my mind!

Let me explain why “The Prep Wife”. Two years ago, Future Hubby (let’s call him Mr. A) and I got engaged; a year ago, we started living together; a year from now, we will be married! My “happily ever after” is at the tip of my nose! Actually, seeing as we live together, I already feel like I am living in my “happily ever after” and I love it!

This past year has been amazing! It sort of feels like it has been a (very fun) training session. I feel like I have been training and preparing to be the best wife I can be… feels like I’m a “Prep Wife”. I am thriving to do honor to this “Prep Wife” title. In the midst of working, wedding planning, family-time, friends-time, (trying to) stay active and balancing all of life’s little highs and lows, I try to keep Mr. A happy & most importantly well fed! One thing I like more than cooking is feeding! The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach? That’s right! I cooked my way into his heart and that’s where I intend to stay!

I remember one of the first times I cooked for Mr. A. It was about 5 years ago. We were still somewhat new as a couple and I was on a mission to impress him! I wasn’t very skilled in the kitchen but I always wanted to try new things. I decided to make him a traditional Lebanese dish (we are Armenian and he grew up in Lebanon) called “Moghrabieh”. Moghrabieh is a chicken dish made with big couscous-like semolina balls (a bit smaller than a chick pea) and deliciously spiced with fragrant ground caraway seeds and seven-spice.

I wanted to surprise him after a long day at work by having dinner on the table once he got home. Well… dinner was on the table… and it was also on the floor. When I was trying to open the bag of those little semolina balls (moghrabieh), I dropped half of them all over the kitchen floor. You can just imagine the mess it made. As the little suckers bounced their way around, I bounced and hopped after them and did my best to clean up. Some of them seemed to have danced their way in the dining room and the entrance hall also. Despite my best efforts, we were finding little dough balls on the floor for weeks.

Nevertheless, the dish was very tasty and here is the recipe!


Yield: 6 portions


· 1kg chicken
· Bay leaves
· 2 Cinnamon sticks
· 2 teaspoons salt
· 3 large onions, chopped
· 2 liters water (for the chicken)
· 2 tbsp oil
· 1kg dried Moghrabieh grains (you can find this at your local Middle Eastern store. Can be substituted with Israeli couscous)
· 1 tbsp salt
· 2 liters water (for the moghrabieh)
· 400g chick peas, drained
· 2  tbsp ground caraway
· 1 tbsp ground cumin
· 1 tbsp Armenian pepper
· 3 cups chicken stock
· 1 tbsp butter
· Salt and Pepper to taste
               The chicken
·         In a large pot, heat oil and add peeled onions. Cook until golden.
·         Add the water, the chicken, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, and salt.
·         Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, skimming off the foam that forms on the surface of the liquid.
·         Leave it until the chicken is cooked.
·         Remove chicken and onions.
·         Strain and reserve the stock.
               The Moghrabieh

·         In a large pot, put 2 liters of water and bring to a boil.
·         Add 1 tbsp salt, a little oil and the moghrabieh grains.
·         Stir from time to time and leave it until the moghrabieh is cooked (about 15 minutes).
·         Strain the moghrabieh.
·         In a large casserole, put butter and the moghrabieh. Add the spices (caraway, cumin, Armenian pepper).
·         Put on a low heat. Add ½ cup of stock and stir delicately.
·         Continue to add the stock, ½ cup at a time until the moghrabieh has absorbed the liquid and the spices.
·         Add the drained chick peas and onions and stir.
·         Add salt and pepper to taste.
               The sauce
·         Put in a pot the rest of the stock.
·         Add 1tbsp of flour and whisk quickly to prevent lumps.
·         Add 1 tbsp Armenian pepper, 1 tbsp ground cumin and 2 tbsp ground caraway and stir.
·         Simmer the sauce until it thickens.
Serve the Moghrabieh in a large plate and decorate it with slices of chicken on top. Pour the sauce in a separate large bowl.

                                                                   Picture retrieved from