I’m in love, I’m in love, je suis amoureux!

I’m so excited to share with you my new girl crush – Marilou Champagne (how much do you want that last name?), and THE cookbook I am currently obsessing over – Three Times a Day!

Marilou’s blog (with hubby Alexandre), Trois Fois Par Jour began in a touching and magical way:

“Three Times a Day was born on April 10, 2013… I had just successfully overcome an eating disorder and I wanted to celebrate my love for cooking by creating my own cooking blog, which I named after my three meals a day… [w]e want to show our readers not only creative recipes, but also table art ideas that are true to our style, alternative cooking methods, and tips for making cooking fun and part of a daily routine. We also wanted to prove—beyond a reasonable doubt—that, with balance, maintaining a healthy relationship with food is possible.”

book

I own a lot of cookbooks.

In fact, my perfect day would most definitely include multiple hours spent ogling yummy recipes and gloriously styled dishes, but those favourite books of mine aren’t always the books I pull from the shelf and cook from.

This book is already insanely dog-eared. I’ve conquered three dishes and have immediate plans for more. The recipes are easy to follow and produce deliciously photogenic results.

As I begin work on my own cookbook, I can’t help but be jealous (in a good way), with the delightfully arranged format and whimsical way Marilou separates dishes into categories. With choices as basic as Economical or Quick & Easy, to fun ideas like Indulgent, Gift (I already whipped up her Pear Butter…mmm), and His Choice.

I have strong ideas of where I want my book to go and have found extra inspiration from this soon to be permanently-fixed-to-the-kitchen-counter-manuel.

I am so happy to have found this book (or did it find me?)

Merci Marilou et Alexandre! xo

MARILOU’S GENERAL TAO CITRUS CHICKEN

serves four

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I did very little tweaking with this recipe, but I just can’t help myself from playing a wee bit.

The only differences here are the addition of lemon, some spiciness from the extra sriracha and hot pepper (I used habanero), just a little extra sugar to counter the heat (I used coconut), extra garlic and some ginger, and a sprinkling of cilantro, to serve.

I used to be afraid of deep frying – it never turned out as I wanted it. For whatever reason, this recipe came off flawlessly and no bits were charred, stuck to the bottom or over cooked.

I can confidently say this recipe is mega quick and impressive enough for guests.

Serve on a bed of rice with some pretty citrus slices, a side of soy and extra sriracha. I paired this with a crunchy brussels sprout and cucumber salad with sesame oil/rice wine vinegar dressing. Yum!

PS, this makes extra sauce, so serve that alongside too, or save it for another use.

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FOR YOUR SAUCE:

1 c chicken or veggie stock

zest of half an orange

juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon

3/4 c coconut or palm sugar

4 – 5 cloves garlic, peeled and diced

2″ piece of ginger, peeled and diced

1 hot pepper (thai chili, jalapeno, habanero etc), seeded and chopped

1/3 c rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp Sriracha

2 tbsp corn or potato starch (dissolved into 3 tbsp water)

FOR YOUR CHICKEN:

4 c vegetable, canola, peanut or safflower oil

1/4 c AP flour (spelt works too)

1/2 c corn or potato starch

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2″ cubes

2 eggs, beaten

big pinch kosher salt

FOR SERVING:

3 -4 green onions, chopped

a small handful of cilantro, chopped

a few tbsps toasted sesame seeds

 

TO MAKE YOUR SAUCE: Combine all the ingredients except the starch in a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook 5 minutes, whisking often. Pass through a fine mesh strainer and return to the pan. Add the dissolved starch mixture and whisk until thickened. Turn off heat.

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TO MAKE YOUR CHICKEN: Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Make sure it is very hot. In a bowl, combine the flour and starch. Toss in the chicken and coat thoroughly. Add the eggs and salt, stirring into a think batter or paste.

Carefully lower the chicken pieces into the hot oil and fry, turning once, about 5-7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. You may need to do this in batches.

TO SERVE: Toss chicken in sauce to coat. Plate with some rice, sprinkled with green onions, sesame seeds and cilantro.

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A QUICK NOTE: This feature was formally named “ODE TO JAMIE” and it was exclusively Jamie Oliver recipes. He is such a big influence on me and his recipes are made to be tweaked and personalized. Now that I am learning and growing, I figured it was time to spread my wings. Point being – it takes a lot to turn my attention from Jamie Oliver, but this book was a no brainer place to start!

ONTARIO WINE PAIRING

One of the main reasons I started doing this feature (other than the fact that I love wine), was to dispel some of the many misconceptions people have about the quality of Ontario wines. So, it’s only fitting that I dispel some of my own.

I was convinced, because of past visits, that the big wineries in Niagara churned out pre-fab, uninteresting vintages. A recent trip to Peller Estates taught me even the big guys can have charming and knowledgeable service with affordably tasty wines.

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I’m going to give you two interesting choices for this dish:

Peller Estate’s Private Reserve Muscat $16.95 – I grew fond of Muscat working at a French restaurant. We don’t get them often in Ontario, but they are a fun find. This Muscat works because it is fruit forward and light bodied, so it doesn’t compete with the sweet tang and spice of the sauce.

This vintage begins with juicy flavours of peach, pear and melon, then finishes with grapefruit and tangerine – a perfect accompaniment for the hints of orange and citrus in the chicken.

Peller Estate’s Signature Series Ice Cuvee $31.95 – I love pairing bubbly with food, it’s fun and unexpected. This can be enjoyed before dinner with salty appetizers and even with sweet dessert. So versatile!

Made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, this guy is a major award winner. It is slightly off dry with a touch of Vidal Ice Wine. The crowd-pleaser has flavours of apricot, yeast and ripe apple, with hints of honey, followed by tropical fruits on the palate and a refreshing pink grapefruit finish.

You can have a lot of success with beer and this dish too. It really depends how spicy you take it. But as always – it’s chef’s choice – chacun a son gout! xo

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