35 Epic Montreal Sandwiches to Eat Before You Die.

The chefs at Cuisinox have embarked on a quest to try the 35 epic sandwiches “to eat before you die”, as per the link below. Our group consists of the Vegan, the Nutritionist, the Chef, and the Foodie. The consensus was to try one sandwich per week and approach in the original order it listed. This may be problematic due to the ingredients in some sandwiches and the eating habits of some members. Eg: lambs brains. Therefore, we may have to skip a few of the less desirable locations. We will report on each and every location as we continue our quest to find the very best sandwich you MUST try before you die.

The chalk board with daily specials.

The chalk board with daily specials.

We started at La Bête à pain, 114 Fleury Ouest. This is a small bakery adjacent to a dining room where one can sit and sample some sweets, a coffee, or a sandwich. The room is comfortable with banquettes throughout. It has an open kitchen separated by the dining area. The counter displays fresh sandwiched and quiches. The chalkboard lists the daily specials. We started with Mimosa’s, a great menu choice, they did not skimp on the champagne. We were also offered a platter of fresh homemade bread with a salty butter, both were outstanding. As we approached the counter and read the chalk board menu, we realized that the famous “Muffuletta” sandwich was not available. Each member opted for a different selection but there was not much choice. The Vegan chose the Shredded Carrot Salad. The Nutriionist chose the Croque Monsieur. The Foodie and the Chef both opted for the famous Grilled Cheese Sandwich with a side of Fig Compote. This was by far the best choice with it’s creamy brie, provolone, and gruyere. The Croque Monsieur was average and lack pizzaz. The Carrot Salad was very filling and hearty.

Freshly baked bread.

Freshly baked bread.


Mimosa’s a great start.

The exquisite grilled cheese sandwich.

The exquisite grilled cheese sandwich.


Ham Croque monsieur













Reservations are not accepted. You need to wait in line with the takeout customers and prepay your food before taking your seat. Overall, the service was very friendly and efficient. They serve queues of customers, and they never stop smiling. You don’t need to wait for your order, the staff will bring it to your table. Stay tuned for our next culinary stop….to be revealed.



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Stove Top Espresso Maker

Aluminum or Stainless Steel?


The traditional material for stove top espresso maker is aluminum. But there are also many stainless steel models available. Which one is better? Well, let me provide some useful info and then you can decide for yourself.

Stainless steel stove top espresso pot is definitely easier to maintain since you do not need to worry about corrosion. Aluminum pots are lighter, so that’s a plus if you use it while traveling. The aluminum pots also tend to heat up the water faster.

Are you worried about using aluminum pot because you consider it a health hazard? This worry can be minimized by taking a good care of your espresso pot (see the tips below).

When the aluminum pot is used, the coffee oils create a thin layer on the inside of the pot. This layer should not be washed away. It actually prevents the contact of coffee with the aluminum next time when you use the pot.

Some people claim that the coffee made in aluminum pot tastes better than the one made in stainless steel. The layer of coffee oil that accumulates in the pot adds a distinct flavor to the brewed coffee. So, the longer the pot is in use the better the coffee becomes.

Tips for maintaining aluminum stove top espresso makers

  • When you buy a new Moka pot you should throw the first two or three batches of coffee away. To season the new pot well it’s best if you leave the brewed coffee in it for one whole day before you discard it.
  • Wash the Moka pot by hand with plain water. Do not use any detergents and do not scrub it.
  • Dry the parts with soft cloth. Aluminum will corrode if you leave it wet for prolonged periods of time.
  • Do not store the Moka pot assembled. The reason? If some water gets trapped in the filter and you keep the pot assembled, then the moisture has nowhere to escape and it may cause corrosion.
  • When you leave your Moka pot unused for a long time, the oily layer may become rancid. If that happens just put in water with a bit of detergent and boil it on the stove top for a while. Then wash it thoroughly. This should remove the rancid oils.

The Cooking Order

Cuisinox Gourmet 7pc SetThe Cooking Order

The cooking order matters: For example, sliced carrots and celery take 6 times longer to cook than sliced mushrooms and zucchini.

Sometimes food organization and preparation is a must, especially when it comes to vegetable and stir-fry dishes.

Once the cooking begins everything goes into the pan in rapid succession so you must first assemble all the ingredients, including the spices, liquid and the utensils you’re going to use. Meats should be dried with paper towels, cut to size with the excess fat removed, and seasoned. Vegetables should be room temperature, washed, peeled, cored and cut to size as well. Sliced or diced, the choice is yours, though it’s best to size everything proportionally.

Also, before you begin the browning, greening and tossing, cook any starchy food you will be using, such as rice, pasta, risotto, potatoes or couscous. This aside will keep warm until you’re ready to add it to your meat and veggies, or to your plate.

Once your food is at the ready, have your olive oiler at hand and light the fire under your best stainless steel pan. If you’re using meat ~brown and cook it almost all the way through, then remove it from the pan to a covered bowl and set it aside. A dash more oil and in goes the hardest vegetable to cook, followed by the next hardest several minutes later, shortening the time between each additional veggie. Most stir-fries use 1 choice of meat and 4 veggies. Again the choice is yours. Simply put everything together at the end and heat through with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in 1 cup of broth, stirring for 3 minutes..

An example of hard to cook veggies are carrots, celery, rutabaga, parsnips, potatoes, beets, winter squash, sweet potatoes. Though I wouldn’t like to see a parsnip in my stir-fry, the cooking order applies across the board for steaming, pan cooking, oven roasting, barbecuing and pressure cooking. An example of the next in line would be onions, bell peppers, corn, broccoli and brussel sprouts. The next group would include asparagus, snow peas, zucchini and mushrooms, and the lightest cooking would go to the green onions and bean sprouts.

Happy Cooking!


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A Brief History of The Pressure Cooker

The first digester [pressure cooker] was created in 1679 by French physicist and mathematician, Denis Papin. It was a large cast iron vessel with a tightly fitted lid that locked. His invention raised the boiling point of water which softened bones and cooked meat in record time. But the thing also exploded all the time due to uncontrollable furnace temperatures and lack of technology to build cast and molded pots. Thankfully, Papin’s later designs implemented a steam release valve to keep the machine from exploding after the Royal Society’s eyebrows were blown off during a presentation. Three years later he represented it to the Royal Society and finally gained positive reviews.

It should be noted that during this time, while developing his digesting machine, Papin also conceived the idea of a piston and cylinder engine. He didn’t follow through with it, yet in 1697, based on Papin’s designs, engineer Thomas Savery built the first commercial steam engine. How could Papin not follow through with that piece of engineering? He must have been a true-blue meat and potatoes man!

The pressure cooker title was first printed in 1915. The first pressure cookers were sold in 1927, Germany. The world’s first commercial pressure cooker made by National Presto Industries was exhibited at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. There are accounts of some people who thought witchcraft was involved because of the constant hissing and rapid cooking.

Postwar consumers sought a higher level of convenience than what the pressure cooker afforded, opting for processed fast food and TV dinners. In the late 60s and early 70s came an increased awareness of healthy eating that pressure cookers easily provided. In my house growing up my parents called it Le Presto and it was used on a weekly basis to cook beef stews and garlic infused pork roasts. Still my favorites in my own kitchen today.

To sum up the brief history of the pressure cooker; I need only say one word: CANNING. What an industry!

Nowadays, modern pressure cookers, with their multiple safety features and improved vent systems make this old-fashioned cooking method new again.


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Caramelized Meats’ Secret

Caramelized Meats’ Secret

Not much of a secret if you have patience and top-notch cookware.

In my house I would give up my barbecue and oven before I would hand over my stainless steel Chef’s Pan. Whether it’s a one liter pan or a larger pan with cover, it’s indispensable if you love caramelized food.

The 1-2-3 of caramelization:

  • Fresh prime cuts of meat [beef roast, whole chicken breasts, and pork butt] The choice is large enough to almost fill the pan you are using.
  • No liquid whatsoever. A dash of olive oil is fine to get meats started.
  • Plenty of time. No fussing over the stove; just patience and the occasional check and flip.

Set it up and let it do its magic.

With the front element on medium high heat the oil in your pan, dry the meat with a paper towel then add a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper on both sides. For whole chicken breasts, cut the backs open and flatten before seasoning.

Place the cut of meat bone side down into the pan and put a lid on it. Lower the heat to LO or 1 and walk away. If it’s chicken, flip it onto the breast side after half an hour. If your pork is rounded, rotate it. If it’s beef, don’t touch it. After another half hour return the chicken to its bone side, rotate the pork, and yes, now you can flip the beef…carefully. You don’t want to break it up. Cook for another hour with the lid firmly in place.

If you want to cast a savory spell on your chicken or pork do it a half hour before the end of its 2-hour cooking time. Here’s how:

Add a small peeled onion and 2 gloves of garlic for each breast or loin. I sometimes use more, but you don’t want the onion flavor to overshadow the sweetness of the meats. Never add liquids*.

For beef, it’s always best to leave it alone, though I have sneaked in a handful of baby onions in the last half hour of cooking with excellent results.

*Should you find your succulent meat flooded in a bath of its own juice, remove the liquid using a syringe or baster. You will have to increase the heat slightly and replace the liquid gradually toward the end of the cooking. This happens when the meat was infused with water at the processing factory or if it was previously frozen. Use only fresh prime cuts of meat.


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Mushroom Water ~ideas

If ever you’re stuck with a batch of mushrooms getting spotted, it’s time to cook them before you lose ’em.

I love mushrooms so I buy them by the case [5 pounds].

Contrary to popular belief, mushrooms do not absorb water; so quickly brush each mushroom under running water with a medium-stiff mushroom brush. The brush should not be too soft or so stiff it scores the surface skin.

Slice them up thinly, or in halves, then place them in a bowl with salt, pepper and butter, then nuke them on high for a few minutes. Stir them midway to coat them well.

Now you have mushroom water. And cooked mushrooms. Separate them into two bowls. You can use them any way you’d like.
Here’s what I do…

Mash your potatoes with the mushroom water, add a little more butter, salt and pepper with as much milk as you need to make them smooth. Once the potatoes are smooth, stir in and incorporate and mushroom pieces. You can eat it like this and it’s wonderful. Or you can spoon it into ramekins with a little shredded cheese of your choice on top. Put them in the oven in a bain-marie (water pan) to prevent them from drying up. Or you can fry up flattened spoonfuls of mashed potatoes in oil in a pan on the stove top; but you’d want to incorporate the cheese (Romano or Parmesan) into the mashed potatoes first. Of course, cheese isn’t necessary to make this a fabulous side dish. A roasted garlic clove is equally wonderful!

Note: If you’re just using a sprinkle of cheese on top, add it near the end of the cooking and make it old cheddar for the best result. But any cheese you have will do.

Once you’re used to making this, you’ll find that you can easily incorporate other things to make it more colorful and happy. Example? Paper thin slivers of red onion, or slivers of red Cubanel or Jalepeno peppers, or just put the mushroom pieces on top. The decorating is the most fun!

Carol Houle

May 25/2011

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Posted by on May 26, 2011 in Cooking, Cuisinox, Entertaining, Recipes


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Cuisinox grater was rated “Wallet Friendliest” Every Day with Rachel Ray

Cuisinox grater was rated “Wallet Friendliest” Every Day with Rachel Ray

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Posted by on May 16, 2011 in Uncategorized