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Toqué Presents Recipes from 'Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy'

Montreal Restaurant Toqué Reveals Its Recipes in Its First Ever Cookbook

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Written by Evelyn Reid - It seems like every restaurant, country music star, retired television celebrity, and out-of-work hip hop musician -- I'm talking to YOU, Coolio -- are releasing a cookbook these days. It's hard to even keep track. Or bother for that matter with such an abundance of watered-down whatever.

But it's not every day Toqué, one of Canada's finest restaurants, after two decades of recipe secrecy and silence, comes out of the shadows of its lauded kitchen and shares how its team has been making magic for years, arguably creating Quebec haute cuisine from scratch. Bad boy celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain even chimed in via his Montreal episode of The Layover, going as far as to claim that Montreal's Toqué “raised the profile of Canada to an international level almost singlehandedly."

More than a simple collection of recipes, Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy takes the cookbook format a step further to introduce the story and values of its original chef and co-founder, Normand Laprise, who grew up in farm territory 170km northeast of Quebec City, in small town Kamouraska.

But as much as you can take the boy out of the country, you can't take the country out of the boy, so the saying goes. And it's reflected in Laprise's approachable personality as much as it's present in his culinary philosophy, one that emphasizes the protection of endangered species, one reduces waste in the kitchen by using as many parts of a given ingredient as possible, and in the very heart of Laprise's manifesto is the copious, abundant use of local, Quebec-made and Quebec-grown products, values he's passed onto his right-hand man, chef de cuisine Charles-Antoine Crête, a notable trail-blazing rebel, if only for getting kicked out of Montreal's prestigious Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec for being "uncontrollable" and daring to have opinions that diverged from school management. But what would repel your standard human resources office did little to phase Laprise when the high-energy chef-to-be applied for a gig at Montreal's top restaurant. In fact, Laprise chuckled about it in a 2007 interview, stating that he took Crête's Institut ejection as a good sign, saying, "well, he must have talent then! It means he's got character, drive, and knows what he wants. So let's see [what he can do]."

Generously allowing me to publish a few pages from Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy, the recipes below should give a fair inkling as to what Crête, and Laprise, can do.

Distributed by Chapters/Indigo as of November 28, 2012, Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy can be purchased online.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go find a drool bucket.

1. Foie Gras Recipe: H₂0 Seared Foie Gras with Strawberries, Daikon and Rhubarb

Toqué Montreal presents recipes from cookbook 'Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy'.
Photo courtesy of Toqué © Dominique Malaterre
I can't believe this recipe exists. I mean I can. What I can't believe is I can make seared foie gras served atop a bed of daikon confit bathed in rhubarb water surrounded by squares of strawberry/red pepper jelly sprinkled with edible flowers ... at home.

There is a God.

2. Razor Clam Recipe: Razor Clams in Lemon Butter With Chanterelles and Beans

Toqué Montreal presents recipes from cookbook 'Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy'.
Photo courtesy of Toqué © Dominique Malaterre
Razor clams in lemon butter with chanterelle mushrooms and fava beans? Not exactly something you whip on after a long day at work, granted, but it's quite the opener for an evening with dinner guests who are guaranteed to ooh and ahh when they find out that one of the best restaurants in Canada showed you how to pull this off.

3. BLT Recipe: The Backwards BLT

Toqué Montreal presents recipes from cookbook 'Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy'.
Photo courtesy of Toqué © Dominique Malaterre
Charm your dinner table with a BLT recipe as proposed by the likes of Montreal's Toqué! But this is not just any BLT recipe. I mean, you didn't expect a five-diamond AAA restaurant to propose any old BLT, did you?

4. Baked Salmon Recipe "Preserved Salmon"

Toqué Montreal presents recipes from cookbook 'Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy'.
Photo courtesy of Toqué © Dominique Malaterre
My apologies for the fish head photo. That's all I had to go with and no worries, you can skip the head and use the body for this recipe. But for a fish head shot, it's awfully gorgeous, don't you think?

5. Cranberry Dessert Recipe: Girly Cranberry

Toqué Montreal presents recipes from cookbook 'Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy'.
Photo courtesy of Toqué © Dominique Malaterre
I won't lie to you. This cranberry dessert recipe is a doozy. We're talking Martha Stewart doozy. It even calls for an ice cream maker. But if your ice cream maker is currently in operation churning something else -- because everyone has one, I mean, obviously -- I'd cheat a little, at the risk of having my head chopped off by Normand Laprise and Charles-Antoine Crête, and get it store-bought. No cranberry flavor? Try substituting the cranberry sorbet with something in the same red, fruity, tarty family ... maybe raspberry or pomegranate sorbet?

6. Cocktail Recipe: Apple and Vanilla Grass Cocktail

Toqué Montreal presents recipes from cookbook 'Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy'.
Photo courtesy of Toqué © Dominique Malaterre
And finally, the cocktail. It's simple. It's refreshing. It requires vanilla grass. I don't even know what the hell that is. But according to Wikipedia, it's "a useful aid to entering a meditative state." And you can buy it on Ebay! Or find it somewhere at the Jean-Talon Market or something.

7. Ham Appetizer: Ham and Strawberries with Molasses and Lime Zest

Toqué Montreal presents recipes from cookbook 'Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy'.
Photo courtesy of Toqué © Dominique Malaterre
Scared off by the difficulty level of all the previous recipes? There is hope. This ham appetizer, ham and strawberries served with molasses and lime zest, is simple and straightforward. You couldn't botch this if you tried.
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