Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vive La France (Cuisine)!

One of my favourite Family Ties episodes features an exhausted Elise falling asleep at the breakfast table after being up all night trying to 'do it all' - juggling both work and motherhood. "French toast, Elise?" her husband Steven asks. She sleeps. "French toast, Elise?" a bit louder this time. She jerks awake and says "Vive la France!". Gets me every time.

We had another tasty potluck at work this month. While I was a bit worried our theme - Quebecois dishes - might not suit the weather, whaddya know...mother nature dumped more snow on us just to make things suitably festive. Here is a rundown of this month's menu:

Pea Soup
Baked Beans
Vegetable Terrine
Baked Turnip and Apples
Brie with crackers
Spinach Salad
Maple Granola Brittle
Maple Pudding Chomeur

Nothing like a light lunch to propel you through a Friday afternoon, right? I contributed Pudding Chomeur to the table which roughly translated means "Poor Man's Pudding", referencing the fact that the ingredients used in the dish were generally available during the Depression, when Pudding Chomeur was apparently invented. It's a cinch to make and is lick the plate good. It starts out with a biscuit like layer:

You drench this layer in a combination of maple syrup, water and cornstarch. Which makes your pudding look like this:

Now don't panic. I know it looks bad. But trust me - throw it in the oven and through some kind of culinary magic (or actual, honest to goodness science) the liquid layer will sink to the bottom and your biscuit layer will end up on top. Serve Pudding Chomeur warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some whipped cream and you will be a very, very popular person. I served it without any accompaniments and people still seemed to like me (er - the pudding) just fine. The Pudding Chomeur went so quickly at the potluck I have nothing to show of the actual, honest to goodness final sticky-sweet product. But feast your eyes on these culinary triumphs:

All. So. Good. This time out my favourite was the Maple Granola Bark. R. thought she didn't get the syrup quite hot enough, since the bark was more the consistency of fudge, but you heard no complaints. The details person is D. who made sure we had a Canadian flag table cloth and 'french' flag to decorate the table. Not quite Quebec, but in the spirit of things. And it also allowed me to re-live a Family Ties moment so it's a win-win, right?

Since we fear our menu might influence the weather we're thinking a Mediterranean potluck should be our next effort. We could really use some warm breezes and sunny blue skies around here.

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