Recipe of the Week!

Christmas is coming and I look forward to preparing a small feast for my immediate family. Things will be a lot different from Christmases past. Last Christmas Eve, I hosted dinner for twenty-three guests. We had tables set up in the living room, dining room and kitchen. We were squeezed in tight and we loved every minute of it. Our home was bursting with laughter, love and warmth. It is hard to believe what a difference a year can make. This Christmas, in order to have just my parents over for Christmas, we have all agreed to isolate for at least ten days before Christmas. The Quebec government has requested we enter a moral contract agreeing to isolate one week before and one week after Christmas in order to have small family gatherings between December 24 and 27. EC Montreal has taken the government up on this recommendation and we will be ending our in-person classes on December 16 and will only resume our blended learning schedule on January 4. We still need to be extra careful and only see family on two of these four dates between the 24th and the 27th. In our family Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the two most celebrated days. We have a big dinner on the 24th and we have a brunch or turkey lunch on Christmas Day after we open our presents. I still need to sort out my Christmas Brunch menu, and I look forward to sharing some of my favorite brunch recipes with all of you. My Christmas Eve dinner will consist of a traditional Italian antipasto of prosciutto e melone, meat lasagna and my veal roulade. I am delighted to share my veal recipe with all of you. Like most of my recipes, it is very easy to … Read more

Twelve Days of Christmas in Montreal!

I am sure you are familiar with the classic song “The twelve days of Christmas”.  It is a popular song and there have been many different versions made.  I recently watched a Hallmark Christmas movie named the twelve dates of Christmas.  It got me thinking about how absolutely wonderful it is to spend Christmas in Montreal!  Even during a pandemic with many government restrictions, there are so many ways to celebrate the holiday season in this beautiful and vibrant city! So, here are my suggestions for your 12 days of Christmas in Montreal: On the first day of Christmas, EC Montreal recommends to you, a stroll through the enchanted Christmas forest at the Quartier des Spectacles.  There you will find so many beautiful Christmas displays, food vendors and hand made arts and crafts. On the second day of Christmas, EC Montreal recommends to you; a Christmas cookie baking lesson with the Lincoln Apartment Bakery.  Learn to make gorgeous cookies to enjoy and to give away as presents. On the third day of Christmas, EC Montreal recommends to you; a shopping spree in Montreal’s impressive underground shopping center.  You will be blown away by the decorations and holiday displays.  Give yourself a gift or two and don’t forget a Montreal souvenir for your loved ones back home too. On the fourth day of Christmas, EC Montreal recommends to you; a stroll through Old Montreal’s traditional German Christmas market.  Every street and every corner you turn will be a magical Christmas postcard. On the fifth day of Christmas, EC Montreal recommends to you; a visit to the Atwater Christmas village.  There you will find so many food vendors, hot chocolate, gourmet coffee and other tasty treats too! On the sixth day of Christmas, EC Montreal recommends to you; a take out dinner … Read more

Throwback Thursday!

This week’s Throwback Thursday is EC Montreal‘s annual Christmas tree trimming party.  This wonderful activity would kick off our Joyful December social events calendar!  The EC Montreal team would set up the bare tree in the center of the student lounge and have baskets and baskets of ornaments, candy canes and message snowflakes for students to hang on the tree.  We would also have festive refreshments on every table, like holiday cranberry punch, gingerbread cookies and popcorn.  Holiday tunes would play from our speakers making it impossible for anyone to avoid the Christmas spirit! My favorite ornaments are the holiday messages.  We would have paper snowflakes where students can write their Christmas wishes.  It always warmed my heart to see so many inspirational messages of hope, love and peace. At EC Montreal, we always tried to make the holiday season as festive as possible for our students.  For most, it was there first time being away from home during the holidays.  We didn’t want them to feel like they were missing out in any way.  Every Wednesday, we organized special Christmas activities for our students to enjoy like Christmas Karaoke, Gingerbread house making, holiday potlucks, Christmas letter writing and our annual charity bake sale!  We would encourage our students to experience a magical Christmas in Montreal through our evening and weekend activities.  There are so many Christmas markets to enjoy as well as Christmas shopping in the underground, holiday group dinners and brunches. We have found in our experience that a very effective way for our students to feel connected to the Montreal community is through our volunteer and fundraising activities.  Doing something good for the needy in Montreal is a fantastic way to spread holiday cheer, and bond with the EC community.  EC Montreal organized several charity events in … Read more

Pop Up Christmas Markets to Discover in Montreal!

As increased safety measures and stricter restrictions are being rolled out in the province of Quebec, it delights us to hear of happy news. There will be pop up outdoor Christmas markets in several parts of the city! The city of Montreal will come to life for the holiday season. Outdoor activities are recommended during these difficult times, so we welcome these wonderful initiatives from the city. In addition to the Christmas markets that will be opening at the Quartier des Spectacles, Little Italy and Atwater market, we learned of two additional markets. There will be a traditional German Christmas market opening up in Old Montreal. From November 21 to January 3, the Garden area of the Hôtel-de-Ville will be completely transformed. The space will be decorated with colorful lights and Postcard-worthy Christmas trees. The lights will shine day and night, every day of the week, and to make the atmosphere even more festive, music will play on site and there will be entertainment as well. A few wooden kiosks will still be installed selling sweet treats. Unfortunately, the craft kiosks will not be available this year, however, they can be sold online through the department store, La Maison Simons. This market will be open from November 27 to January 3 and access to the site is free! We are excited to announce that there will be a pop-up Italian Christmas market this year, courtesy of Richmond Marché Italien. Richmond Montreal will be spreading Christmas magic through their wonderful Italian Christmas products. The market will be open from November 21 to December 20. They have made sure that the experience is safe for all its visitors, following all the government covid precautions and recommendations. The site will include classes such as the art of hosting, for example. They will be … Read more

Recipe of the Week!

As we approach the holiday season, the weather is dipping below zero and nighttime seems to be coming earlier and earlier. The sun is setting before 4:30 p.m. and we have the impression that we have less time. I like to serve my family comforting meals during the winter months. I also feel like I don’t have as much time, so I look for very easy and quick meals to prepare. If you are on a budget, as most of our EC Montreal students are, chicken is one of the most affordable proteins you can purchase. There are so many easy chicken recipes that you can prepare. One of my favorites is Lemon Chicken. You don’t need many ingredients and the entire meal can be prepared on one sheet pan. For my version of Lemon Chicken, you will need the following ingredients: – ½ cup of olive oil – The juice of 2 lemons – 4 garlic cloves, thinly minced – A dash of dried thyme – A dash of dried rosemary – Salt and pepper to taste – 12 chicken thighs or drumsticks – 5 small potatoes, cut in half – Lemon zest and slices – Minced parsley (optional for garnish) Preheat your oven to 420 degrees. Drizzle olive oil on a sheet pan. In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining olive oil with the lemon juice, garlic, herbs and seasoning. Use most of the marinade on the chicken and refrigerate it for approximately 30 minutes. Coat the halved potatoes with the remaining marinade. Spread the chicken and potatoes on the sheet pan and place the lemon slices over the top. Bake the chicken for approximately 45 to 60 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are soft. Sprinkle the lemon zest and minced parsley … Read more

University Pathway Presentation From St. Lawrence College!

Our EC Canadian centers offer counselling and services to students interested in creating a pathway to college or university in Canada.  The EC schools offer academic courses that prepare students for their road to post-secondary or higher education studies.  Sergio, is our university pathway coordinator.  He acts as a liaison between EC and the educational institution.  He helps to counsel students on the different programmes available in Canada as well as all the pathway partners EC works with.  He assists students with the application process once they have made their choice and is always looking to find new and interesting partners for EC.  In addition to all these tasks, he also organizes webinars and lectures with our pathway partners. Last week, he organized a webinar with St. Lawrence College.  Mr. Stanislav Gratkov, from St. Lawrence delivered the presentation.  EC Montreal was very well represented!  We had students from all our English levels participate in the special lecture.  Stanislav explained that St. Lawrence College has campuses in three different cities in Ontario; Kingston, Cornwall and Brockville.  All three campuses offer a variety of really great programmes.  St. Lawrence offers over one hundred different programmes.  Their most popular programmes are; Energy Systems Engineering, Civil Engineering, Biotechnology, Advanced Health Information Management, Health Care Administration, Business Analytics, Music and Digital Media and a variety of IT Programmes. St. Lawrence offers Co-Op programmes where students can get real work experience in cooperation with their studies, so when they complete their studies, they have valid employment experience to add to their resume. They also offer other important services such as housing and extra curricular activities. Due to covid, they have moved all their programmes online.  Their institutions have recently been added to the list of DLI list of approved educational providers to be granted admission into … Read more

Throwback Thursday!

This week’s Throwback Thursday image is that of our annual hot chocolate activity that is part of our Soulful November themed calendar of events.  The month of November is all about soothing the mind, body and soul with comfort.  As the temperatures begin to dip below zero, we yearn for warm and soothing drinks and meals to comfort us. The hot chocolate activity was always a great hit with our students.  After their special focus class on Wednesday, they would be surprised to find the student lounge transformed into a hot chocolate bar!  Every table would have thermoses of delicious hot chocolate and a wonderful variety of toppings including; cinnamon sticks, candy canes, chocolate sprinkles, miniature marshmallows, whipped cream, caramel sauce and chocolate fudge sauce.  We would even have cookie straws to stir their hot chocolate with.  In addition, every table would have some fun signs written on black chalkboard like “sweater weather”, “hot cup of love”, “baby, it’s cold outside”, and “c’est l’hiver”. The students and staff enjoyed sipping their cups of deliciousness while mingling with their classmates.  Creating these opportunities for our students to make friends, practice their language skills and make meaningful connections, has always been a priority for us at EC Montreal.  Even now, despite the social gathering restrictions, we are finding a way to maintain a strong sense of family and community with our students.  Students must stay within their classroom bubble, however, we bring joy to them in their class.  We continue to celebrate every student’s birthday, graduation, special achievements and holidays. EC Montreal will be decorating every individual classroom with Christmas decorations this year so the students can enjoy the holidays with their classmates.  We will also be surprising them in class every Wednesday with a special holiday treat; chocolates, Christmas cookies, candy … Read more

Recipe of the Week!

As it is already looking like Christmas in Montreal, I am getting excited to celebrate the holidays this year.  We have already put up our Christmas tree and the entire city of Montreal is all lit up!  Our Christmas festivities will be a little different this year, but we still need to do our best to celebrate with our loved ones and to focus on the joy and blessings we still do have in our lives. French Canadians traditionally have a very big Christmas Eve celebration.  Most of them wait until midnight to eat the big feast they call Le Reveillon de Noel.  It is a long and extravagant meal.  Some of the staples on the table in Quebec are meat pies, roast beef and all the trimmings.  Some serve smoked salmon, seafood, foie gras, turkey or goose.  La buche de noel is usually served for dessert. Some people open up their presents at midnight but in our family, we wait until the next morning. As I dream of Christmas, I am also planning in my mind my Christmas menu. One of the foods I often serve on Christmas Eve is lasagne.  It is our tradition to have a big Christmas Eve dinner with the family and we usually stay up until midnight to wish everyone a “Merry Christmas”.  We serve panettone, champagne, chestnuts and tangerines at midnight. For my version of lasagne, you will need the following ingredients: 2 packages of oven ready lasagne noodles 1/2 pound of ground beef 1/2 pound of ground pork 1 large onion 4 cloves of garlic 1 litre of chicken stock 4 cups of mozzarella cheese 4 cups of ricotta cheese 1 cup of grated parmigiano cheese 1 tube of tomato paste 2 jars of tomato sauce – passata salt and pepper to … Read more

It’s Already Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

We are only mid-November and yet, if you look around the city of Montreal, it is already beginning to look like Christmas!  Given the stress of the pandemic, we need a lot of joy in our lives right now and the city of Montreal is in complete agreement.  They have gone all out this year!  There are Christmas installations all over the city, especially in the most touristic neighbourhoods of Montreal, specifically Old Montreal, the Plateau and the Quartier des Spectacles. The mayor of Montreal, Valerie Plante, announced that there would be free parking on Saturdays to encourage people to Christmas shop with ease and convenience.  The mayor also wants people to choose outdoor activities instead of indoor for safety reasons and to avoid the spread of the virus. The city of Montreal has announced that there will be three large Christmas markets around the city this year.  The Village de Noel at the Atwater market will be back and bigger than ever this year!  They will be including outdoor picnic tables under twinkly lights as all indoor dining halls are temporarily closed for safety purposes.  The market will display so many one-of-a-kind gifts, baked goods, crafts, ornaments and other Christmas decorations.  It will also be serving delicious treats with its hot chocolate, cookies, roasted chestnuts, donuts and churros!  We can’t wait to see the market in action starting the weekend of December 4th! The Jean-Talon market will also feature a Christmas market this year!  There will be holiday treats, decorations and festive gift ideas on display.  There will be music, games and food for everyone to enjoy! The Quartier des Spectacles, which is the entertainment district of Montreal, located outside the Place des Arts metro station will have an enchanted winter garden on display.  There will be a path … Read more

Throwback Thursday!

This week’s Throwback Thursday image is that of EC Montreal’s annual grilled cheese event.  You may wonder why our taste of Montreal during the month of November is that of grilled cheese.  Every month, EC Montreal has a monthly themed social events calendar.  We created the themes based on what is happening in the city, around holidays and cultural events.  For example; September is apple season in Quebec, so the theme in September is “An apple a day…”.  Most of the activities are apple themed.  As November is one of the quietest months of the year and it is “sandwiched” between two of the most exciting months; Halloween and Christmas, we decided to embrace this calmness and named the month “Soulful November”.  All the activities are revolved around feeling good and feeding the mind, body and soul. Canada’s number one comfort food is the grilled cheese sandwich.  It is most of our go to foods when we are in a hurry and want something really comforting and delicious.  So  many restaurants have created a gourmet version of this very basic sandwich.  It is usually served with tomato soup.  Many fancy restaurants have even created grilled cheese appetizers that are served alongside tomato soup in either a shot glass or a tiny espresso cup. EC Montreal’s grilled cheese activity became one of our favourites to plan.  It is such a simple food but the melted butter, bread and cheese on the grill filled the entire school with the most mouth watering aromas!  Our students would smell the deliciousness in their classrooms and then race to the student lounge after their class to get a taste!  We would cut the sandwiches into triangle halves, so there would be enough for everyone to enjoy.  There were even enough leftovers for seconds and thirds!  … Read more