Lemon verbena simple syrup

simple syrupSimple syrups are a great addition to your pantry.  They can be used to flavor and sweeten  fruit salads, brushed on cakes to add some moisture or mixed with wine to poach fruits. When it comes to beverages, adding a splash in bubbly water or cocktails will add some depth to your drinks.  They easily keep up to a month in the fridge, that is… if they last that long.lemon verbena


  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed lemon verbena leaves washed and dried

In a medium saucepan mix the water and sugar, bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer fro 8 minutes, mixing a bit to make sure the sugar dissolves.  Add the herbs, turn off the heat and cover.  Let sit for an hour.lemon verbena syrup

Put a fine mesh strainer on top of a bowl and strain the syrup, pushing the verbena with a spatula or wooden spoon to get as much of the flavors from the herbs.  Transfer into a clean bottle or mason jar, label and refrigerate until ready to use.

NOTE: If you want a regular simple syrup, omit the herbs.  You can also substitute the verbena for mint, lavender leaves or basil; zest of one lemon, orange or lime or 2 tablespoon of chopped fresh ginger.  For a syrup with a bit more depth, use sugar in the raw.  Instead of a clear syrup you will have a brownish looking syrup that will also change the look of your drink .cocktail

From my kitchen to yours,

CK, la fille du boucher

Berry Coulis

dirty spoonHere is a simple little recipe when you have a surplus of berries.  This time of year I make it with berries frozen from last summer’s bounty.  You can make it with one kind of berry but I like a mixture.  It keeps in the fridge for about a week but again in this house it’s gone before you know it! I like it mixed with yogurt for breakfast but it can be used as a sauce on ice cream, poached pears, pound cake or simply on its own.blueberry


  • 6 cups of mixed berries: blueberry, strawberry and raspberry (frozen or fresh )
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup red winestrawberry

Stir all the ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool down to room temperature, serve or pack in a glass container and refrigerate until ready to serve.

berries in sugarNOTE:  For a refined sauce transfer the mixture into a fine mesh sieve, place over a large bowl and press all the solids until you end up with a smooth sauce and all you have left in the sieve are seeds and pulp.  Store and serve in the same way as above.berry coulis

From my kitchen to yours,

CK, la fille du boucheryogurt and coulis

Tomato Coulis

tomatoesTomatoes will not be in season for another six or seven months.  As I look at the sleeping garden outside I dream of the taste of a freshly picked tomato – the classic taste of summer.  In the meantime I make do with what is available in stores.  Once in a while my local farm stand will have a basket of tomatoes at a reduced price, which are not as great as their August counterpart but are perfect for tomato coulis. The beauty of the recipe is that you can use tomatoes that are a bit “beat up”, cutting around the “bad” parts.  This tomato coulis keeps in the fridge for about 2 weeks and freezes beautifully – It involves simple ingredients cooked together and can make a perfect base for sauce.  It can also be used as followcutting tomatoes

  • substitute a cup of coulis in a recipe that calls for one chopped tomato in a soup or stew
  • add one tablespoon of tomato paste for every cup of coulis and reduce at a simmer for 15 minutes for a quick tomato sauce
  • puréed in a blender and use as a light sauce for fish or chickentomatoes on cutting board

TOMATO COULIS (makes about 10 cups)

  • 5 to 6 pounds tomatoes washed, cored, blemishes removed and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium onions chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon basil

Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven.  Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, stir for a minute.  Add the tomatoes, salt and herbs.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes.  Take the cover off and cook for another 15 minutes.  The coulis will be watery and thinner than a sauce.   Use immediately or cool down and pack in containers.photo-46photo-45

NOTE:  when I see tomatoes on sale or have a lot of tomatoes about to go bad that is when I make coulis and often use different kinds in the mix: cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, etc.  Instead of regular onions you can substitute leeks, red onions or shallots.

From my kitchen to yours,

CK, la fille du boucherpreserving tomatoes

Pear Confit

bosc pearsHere is another simple dish that will “wow” your guests.  I speak from experience.  I have been making this confit for many years, and consistently my guests enquire about the recipe – only to be shocked at how utterly simple it is (they often think I’m kidding!)  Again, due to its simplicity, best quality ingredients are what make this dish so delicious. This confit is especially great served room temperature with a cheese course. It will keep for a week in the fridge, just bring to room temperature to serve.

roasting pears


  • 4 ripe Bosc pears core, quartered and cut into 1/4 inch slices (about 8 cups)
  • 3 cups onions cut in half and sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon grey sea salt
  • 1/2 cup garlic oil

Preheat oven at 400 degrees.

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl making sure the pears and onions are well coated with the oil.  Transfer to a baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pan half way through baking.  Once in a while check to make sure the ingredients cook evenly by stirring, preventing the edges from burning.

NOTE:  Once cooked, you can chopped the confit.  Slice off the rind top from a wheel of brie and spread the confit on top and serve. You can also use it as a condiment for sandwiches – my son loves to make a turkey, blue cheese, pear confit wrap for lunch.

From my kitchen to yours,

CK, la fille du boucher

Turkey Stock

thanksgiving dayThe wonderful Thanksgiving feast has come and gone.  In the fridge, the leftovers are practically down to none.  If you still have that turkey carcass, don’t throw it away! (if you have, don’t worry since you can also use this method with a roast chicken.)raw turkey

A while ago, talking cooking with a good friend, he described the making of stock as primordial.  There is something basic about cooking bones, bits of meat, vegetables and herbs in water; extracting all the flavors in order to create a delicious base for soups and sauces.  While making stock, the kitchen warms up and a wonderful aroma starts to permeate the house: comfort food at its best – primordial-.

All you need is a big stock pot and if not, you can cut the carcass in half and make the stock in two medium saucepans.roast chicken


  • turkey or chicken carcass
  • 4 carrots cut into chunks
  • 2 large onion quartered
  • 4 celery stalks cut into chunks (you can include the green leaves)
  • greens from one leek coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch parlsey
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs sage
  • 2 bay leavesvegetables for stock

Put all ingredients in a large stock pot. Cover with water. On high heat bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 2 hours.

Turn off the heat, let cool to room temperature and put in the fridge overnight or until very cold, covered.

Skim the fat off the top and return pot to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for one hour.  Cool down to room temperature.  At that point, the stock has a nice amber, yellowish color.  Strain in a fine mesh colander. Discard all the solids.

You can use the stock right away, store in the fridge for up to a week or divide into containers and freeze until ready to use.

Use as you would any store bought stock.poultry stock

NOTE: Once cold, the stock will look like loose gelatin. Don’t worry! that means you have succeeded in making a nice rich stock.  I don’t call for salt and pepper as I prefer to season the stock once I use it in a recipe.  No time to make the stock? just freeze the carcass until you have the time.

From my kitchen to yours,

CK, la fille du boucher

Vinaigrette / Salad dressing

vinaigrette ingredientsWhy buy the bottled “stuff” when you can make your own?  There are so many flavored oils and different vinegars these days for one to experiment and built a whole repertoire of salad dressings.  I make mine ahead of time, double the recipe and let it sit on the counter in a tightly closed jar or container until ready to use.  If you choose to put it in the fridge , you will need to take it out and bring it  to room temperature since the oil will have congealed.


  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1.5 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, whisk mustard, vinegars, salt and pepper.  Whisk until blended and while still whisking, slowly pour in the oil until emulsified .  Serve immediately with greens or pour in glass jar or container until ready to serve.mache salad


  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, mix lemon juice and zest.  Slowly whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper.  This vinaigrette is great with arugula salad topped with parmesan shavings.


  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon old style grainy mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl mix mayonnaise, mustard and vinegar.  Slowly whisk in the oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  If not using right away this vinaigrette has to be refrigerated as it contains dairy products.bib lettuce

NOTE:  Since different kinds and brands of mustard, mayonnaise and vinegars vary, I suggest tasting the vinaigrette by dipping a bit of lettuce to check the strength and seasonings. If you make it ahead, make sure you stir or  shake to blend all the ingredients before using as the vinaigrette tends to separates as it sits.

From my kitchen to yours!

CK, la fille du boucher

Zucchini pickle

For my first post, I give you “my” zucchini pickle recipe.  “My” because I got it from a book we bought at L.L.Bean (of all places) about 30 years ago.

Putting Food by:  The No.1 book about all the safe ways to preserve food,  by Ruth Hertzberg, Beatrice Vaughan and Janet Greene

It’s my go to book whenever I want to pickle.  The recipe calls for thin slices of small zucchini; well, I use those sneaky zucchini that hide and once you find them are the size of baseball bats! I make sure to core them, take the seeds and fibers out and cut them in one inch pieces.  For a pretty colorful mix I sometime add some yellow squash that also have escaped early picking.  So to all my friends who have been asking about the recipe lately, here it is


  • 2 quarts thin slice of unpeeled, small zucchini squash
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

Combine zucchini and onions.  Sprinkle with the salt, cover with cold water and let stand 2 hours.  Drain; rinse with fresh water, and drain again.  Combine remaining ingredients in an enamelware kettle and bring to boiling.  Cook 2 minutes.  Add zucchini and onions, remove from heat, and let stand 2 hours.  Bring again to boiling and cook 5 minutes.  Ladle hot into hot pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headroom and process in a Boiling-Water Bath (212F) for 10 minutes.  Makes about 4 pints.

Note: it is always important when canning that the jars, lids, pots be clean and sterilized. You can do so by boiling the jars 15 minutes or if you have a very hot drying cycle in your dishwasher. If you make a small amount of pickles and don’t want to bother with processing, put the jars in the fridge once they have cool to room temperature.

from my kitchen to yours!

CK, la fille du boucher