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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Party fare with pairings from the MLCC

I had the great pleasure of participating as the caterer for an event with the MLCC. I gave them the recipe items and they paired them beautifully with their selections. This is always a great choice for home entertaining. Many of these items have been featured previously on this blog, such as tapenade, spanikopita, Kerala Shrimp, etc.

Happy New Year and Enjoy!

Menu & Product Selection

Station 1 Mediterranean
Patliçan Yogürtlü (Turkish yoghurt eggplant dish with baguettes), Stuffed Grape leaves, Tapenade Crostini, Spanikopita Triangles

Paired with:

Deus Brut de Flandres

Magner’s cider mulled with Spiced tea, ½ pints Bulldog Beer

Station 2 Asian
Vietnamese Salad Rolls, Sashimi Spoons with grilled Udon, Samosas, Kerala Shrimp

Paired with:

Tantalus Riesling VQA

Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catharine Brut VQA

Cedar Creek Pinot Noir VQA

Station 3 Chef’s choices
Bison or Elk Tenderloin Carpaccio served with a Blood Orange Vinaigrette on Crostini, Shitake Mushroom Toasts, Caucasus Belgian Endive, Caviar Station

Paired with:

Ginger Crown (Crown Royal, ginger beer cocktail)

Chambord Kir (Chambord Liqueur & Sparkling cocktail)

Navan Nog ( Navan Liquer & Eggnog cocktail)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tonight! Spectacular Holiday Treats

Tonight I will be preparing the following for a cooking demonstration for the Assiniboine Park Conservatory at the Madison Square Manitoba Liquor Commission. Photos to come after the evening's presentation.

1. Crab Cones

1 tin frozen crab meat (Available at Gimli Fish)
6-10 peeled and chopped fresh water chestnuts (available at Sun Wah)
1 inch grated ginger
3-5 green onions, finely diced on a diagonal
¼ tsp white pepper
½ tsp sea salt
¼ cup Mirin (available at Sun Wah and other Asian markets)
drizzle Sesame oil
pinch of white sugar

Mix all ingredients together and chill until ready to fill cones.

1 pkg frozen wonton wrappers (round or square cut in half)
canola or peanut oil
unwaxed paper cone cups

Set oven to 500ºF and place paper cups upside down on a baking sheet. Brush both sides of the wrapper with oil. Cut a slit through the centre of a circular wonton wrapper and form around the paper cone and pinch together. Place in oven and watch carefully until the wonton wrapper starts to bubble and begins to brown. Remove from the oven and cool. Gently remove wrappers from the cone and fill with your favourite filling. Serve on a platter or in a martini glass as shown.


2. Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

3 medium potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 onion, shredded
2 eggs
1/4 cup flour or maztah meal
salt and pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp paprika (optional)

Golden Caviar (Available at Gimli Fish)

Mix potato pancake ingredients together and fry in pancake size in a little olive oil until golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat and using cookie cutters, cut bite sized pieces from the pancake.

Top each latke bite with crème fraiche and golden caviar.

3. Baked Brie Wheel

1 wheel brie
¼ - ½ cup frozen fresh cranberries
¼ cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350º. Cut slits into the brie wheel and poke cranberries into the cheese. Top with brown sugar and place in oven for ~ 5 minutes. Turn to broil and watch for sugar to brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately with breads and crackers.

4. Caramelized Shallot Tarts

port or wine
rosemary or thyme
drizzle olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Take the skins and ends off of the shallots and place them in a shallow baking dish. Add remaining ingredients and bake at 350ºF oven for up to one hour or until the shallots are soft. Enjoy in a number of options or as a garnish to meats and vegetables or, combine with Okanagan Cherry reduction in tarts:

Dried Okanagan Cherry reduction
1 cup tart dried Okanagan cherries *
1 cup port
1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbs butter
1 cup dry red wine or port
Soak cherries in port over night or for several hours.
In a sauce pan, heat soaked cherries and add wine or port and rosemary. Bring to a boil and add butter. Remove from heat and purée. Use on tarts or as a drizzle for meats or poultry.

5. Chocolate Creams

6-7 oz dark Callebaut Chocolate
2 cups milk
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar

Melt chocolate in a bain-marie (stainless steel bowl over pot of boiling water) with 1 tbs. Milk. Make the quantity of milk up to 2 cups and bring high heat. Beat 6 egg yolks with sugar until the mixture turns white. Slowly add the chocolate flavoured milk, beating it in quickly. Divide the mixture between at least 6 ramekins placed in a baking dish that will be filled with simmering water (another bain-marie). Bake at 375º F for about 25 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the bain-marie and leave to cool before putting them in the refrigerator to set.


4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180ºF.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw a 9-inch circle on the
paper, using a 9-inch plate as a guide, then turn the paper over so the circle is on
the reverse side. (This way you won't get a pencil mark on the meringue.)
Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk
attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 1 minute. With
the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny
peaks, about 2 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites,
add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula. Pile the
meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it
within the circle, making a rough disk. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven,
keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven,
about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
Invert the meringue disk onto a plate and spread the top completely with
sweetened whipped cream.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Say Cheese! Canadian Cheese

Cheese of Canada

I had such fun the other day presenting recipe ideas at the MLCC Madison Square for the Assiniboine Park Conservatory. The theme was Cheese of Canada.

1. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Raclette, Pear and onion

2 whole wheat bread slices per sandwich
1-2 slices Raclette cheese per sandwich
2 slices pear (Bosc, red, golden, etc.)
2-4 onions, thinly sliced
2 tbs good olive oil
Salt and pepper
Port for deglazing
Dijon mustard on each slice of bread
Butter for outside of each sandwich

Slowly caramelize onions in a pan, season and deglaze with port when caramelized. To assemble sandwiches, spread mustard on inside of slices followed by pear, onion and cheese. Close sandwich and butter on both sides. Grill under the broiler or in a pan until browned and cheese has melted. Cut into quarters in the diagonal and serve immediately.


2. Fresh Mozzarella Tomato Salad

6-8 red ripe tomatoes, sliced
1-2 packages fresh mozzarella, cut into pieces or slices
1 cup basil leaves, whole or torn
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Lay out tomatoes and cheese on a plate, alternating and layering between them Sprinkle basil leaves over the plate. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle good olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the plate.

3. Baked Cheesy Pasta

1 pkg pasta (penne, farfale, rigatoni, etc.)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs butter
2 cups milk
1 tbs flour
½ tsp chipotle peppers
1 cup white wine
1 head roasted garlic
One cup each of grated cheeses (Trappist, Chevre- crumbled, Raclette, Ermite)

Bring a large pot of water to boil with salt and olive oil. Cook pasta under the time recommended on the package. In another large saucepot, heat olive oil and butter and sauté sliced onion. Add 1 tbs flour and cook through without browning flour. Add milk and incorporate all of onion flour mixture on the bottom of the pot. Bring to a gentle boil and add white wine. Season with dried chipotle peppers and roasted garlic.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cheese, cooked and drained pasta and sauce. Pour into a large baking dish and bake at 350F until sauce bubbles. Let rest and serve.

Options: Add cooked sausage, bacon or other smoked meats. Try a variety of cheeses. Sprinkle crisp onions on top.

4. Matar Paneer (peas with paneer)

1 medium-sized onion, chopped
~ 1 inch fresh ginger, grated or chopped
4-6 tbs vegetable oil
Paneer (available at Dino’s fresh or frozen or make at home)
1 whole dried hot red pepper
1 ½ cups light yoghurt with separated liquid
1 tbs ground coriander seeds
¼ tsp turmeric
3 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
3 cups shelled fresh or 2 packages thawed frozen peas

Blend onion and ginger in a blender with 1/3 cup water until you have a smooth paste. Heat oil in pot and place the hot red pepper and turn. Add blended onion mixture and cook until a light brown colour.

Add the coriander and turmeric, stirring for another minute. Add tomatoes and cook for another few minutes. Add yoghurt, salt and pepper. Mix well and let boil. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add peas and paneer pieces and simmer until peas are cooked.

5. Quick(ish) Tiramisu

1 pkg lady fingers
1-2 pkgs mascarpone cheese
1 cup sugar
1 fresh egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup fine cocoa powder
2 tall espressos
1 shot each of coffee liqueur, kirsch, Frangelico (optional)

Mix mascarpone, sugar, egg and vanilla. In a shallow bowl, combine espresso with liqueurs. Dip lady fingers into bowl and place in serving dish. Cover with some of the cheese mixture and then top with a sprinkling of cocoa. Repeat layering for 2-3 layers. Top with cheese mixture and then with cocoa. Let chill and set and serve.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tapas for the Conservatory

I had a lot of fun last night for a fundraising event for the Assiniboine Park Conservatory. Last night's theme was Tapas. I presented the following five easy recipes that are great for parties, entertaining, pot luck events, etc.

1. Serrano Ham with Arugula
5 oz arugula, separated into leaves
4 ½ tbs olive oil
1 ½ tbs orange juice
10 oz thinly sliced Serrano ham slices
salt and pepper

Place arugula in a bowl and pour in the olive oil and orange juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and toss well.

Arrange the slices of ham on individual serving plates, folding it into attractive shapes. Divide the arugula between the plates and serve.

2. Garlic Tomatoes

8 deep red tomatoes
3 fresh thyme sprigs, plus extra to garnish
12 garlic cloves, unpeeled
¼ generous cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425º. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and arrange, cut-side up, in a single layer in a large, ovenproof dish. Tuck the thyme sprigs and garlic cloves between them.

Drizzle the olive oil all over the tomatoes and season to taste with pepper. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes are softened and beginning to char slightly around the edges.

Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Season the tomatoes to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the thyme and serve hot or warm. Squeeze the pulp from the garlic over the tomatoes at the table.

3. Calamares with no-fail Aïoli

1 lb prepared squid (calamari rings, etc)
all-purpose flour for coating
corn, peanut or canola oil for deep-frying
lemon wedges, to garnish
aïoli, to serve

Dry squid and dust with flour. Do not season as the salt will toughen the calamares. Heat oil to 350 – 375º. Carefully add the rings in batches and deep fry for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oil and place on paper towels. Enjoy with aïoli.

1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 tbs white wine vinegar or lemon juice
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
salt and pepper
5 tbs extra virgin olive oil
5 tbs canola oil

Put the egg yolk, vinegar, garlic and salt and pepper in a food processor and blend well together. Slowly add the olive oil with the blade turning. When it starts to thicken, add more oil and blend until it is thick and smooth.

4. Sautéed garlic mushrooms
1 lb white mushrooms
5 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper
4 tbs flat leaf parsley, chopped
crusty bread

Trim off stems of mushrooms. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds- 1 minute, or until lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and sauté over high heat, stirring until the mushrooms have absorbed the oil in the skillet

Reduce the heat to low. When the juices have come out of the mushrooms, increase the heat again and sauté for 4-5 minutes until the juices have almost evaporated. Add lemon juice and season. Stir in parsley and cook for an additional minute.

Serve hot or warm with crusty bread.

5. Potato wedges with roasted garlic dip

3 lb potatoes
2 tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tsp salt

Roasted Garlic Dip

2 garlic bulbs, roasted
1 tbs olive oil
5 tbs sour cream
4 tbs mayonnaise
hot smoked paprika, to taste

Roast the garlic for 25 minutes at 350ºF until caramelized. Let cool enough to handle. Squeeze out and mash. Mix in a bowl with the sour cream and mayonnaise. Season with salt and paprika. Chill.

For the potatoes, cut each potato half into 3 wedges and place in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, garlic and salt and toss well. Transfer to a roasting pan and arrange in a single layer. Roast for 1- 1/14 hours, or until crisp and golden.

Serve immediately with roasted garlic dip.


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Kerala Shrimp an entrée or an appetizer

I had the pleasure of featuring this lovely Kerala classic shrimp dish on the Weekend Morning Show with Kerän Sanders. It is very popular at parties as an appetizer and with other dishes as an entrée.

Kerala Shrimp

1/4 kg small shrimp
1 tsp ground chilies
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp vinegar

1 tbs cooking oil (grapeseed oil or canola so as to not add flavour)
1 large onion, chopped
a few curry leaves
1/4 tsp. paprika or chili powder (depending on how spicy you like the food)
1 tsp coconut oil (optional)

Clean and marinate shrimp in chilies, turmeric and vinegar at least 1/2 hour before cooking.

Heat oil in pan and sauté onion until golden brown. Remove from oil and set aside. Fry the shrimp in the same oil until crispy. Then add the fried onion, curry leaves and optional paprika or chili powder on low heat. Add the coconut oil for good Keralan flavour. Test for salt and serve with rice, roti or chappati, etc.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

More warming soups

Last night I prepared the following soups for the Assiniboine Park Conservatory fundraiser at the MLCC. These should keep you warm in the upcoming winter. Photos coming soon.

1. Hot and Sour Soup

1 tbsp tree ear fungus soaked 1/2 hour (optional)
6 dried black mushrooms soaked 1/2 hour
24 dried day-lily buds soaked 1 hour
4 c vegetable stock
2 tsps corn starch
2 tsps sesame oil
1 lg egg lightly beaten
1/4 c finely julienned bamboo-shoot strips
4 ozs tofu block (medium) julienned
1/3 tsp salt
2 tbsps white vinegar
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 tsps soy sauce (thin)
2 tsps scallion thinly sliced

Soak tree ear fungus and Chinese mushrooms in 1 cup water each for half an hour and the day-lily buds in 1 1/2 cups water for half an hour. Drain the fungus and rinse. Cut off any hard knots. Cut into strips about 1/4-inch wide.

Remove the mushrooms from liquid. Cut off and discard the coarse stems and cut into 1/4-inch wide strips. Remove the day-lily buds from the liquid. Cut off and discard the hard knots at the end.

Remove 1/4 cup of the stock and set the remainder to heat in a 3-quart pot over a medium high heat.

Put the cornstarch into a small bowl. Slowly add the 1/4 cup cold stock and 1 tsp sesame oil. Set aside.

Beat the egg very lightly. Mix in 1 tsp sesame oil and set aside.

The stock should now be boiling. Add the tree ear fungus, mushrooms, day-lily buds, bamboo-shoot strips, tofu strips and salt to it. Bring it to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes. Now add the vinegar, white pepper and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer. Stir the cornstarch and stock mixture and add it to the pot. Stir and cook until the soup thickens slightly. Turn off the heat. Immediately pour in the beaten egg mixture in a steady stream, covering the surface of the soup with it. Stir gently.

Pour soup into individual bowls. Sprinkle with the sliced scallions and serve hot.

2. Green Mexican Corn Chowder

* 2 tbsp vegetable oil (30ml)
* 1 lb. tomatillos, husked and rinsed (454g)
* 1 x medium white onion, chopped medium dice
* 1 tbsp garlic, minced (15ml)
* 1 x large fresh poblano chili, stemmed, seeded, roughly chopped
* 2 x cups corn kernels, defrosted (500ml)
* 3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock (875ml)
* 1/2 cup of 35% heavy cream (125ml)
* 1/2 cup fresh Cilantro, washed, leaves only stalks removed, roughly chopped (125ml)
* Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Add half of the vegetable oil.
2. Cut the tomatillos in half from top to bottom and lay them cut side down in the hot skillet. Allow them to cook until the tomatillos have a deep golden brown colour, flip and roast on the other side for approximately 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and place in a bowl to cool slightly.
3. Set a large saucepan over medium heat, add the remaining oil and allow to heat for 30 seconds. Add the onion, garlic and the poblano pepper. Allow to cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. In a food processor, puree the onion mixture, the tomatillos and 1 cup of the corn. Puree the mixture until all is smooth, add 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the chicken broth slowly to thin out the mixture and help get it smooth.
5. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the mixture into a large pot. Set the pot over medium heat and stir in the remaining chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and add the heavy cream, remaining corn and chopped cilantro. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Ladle the warm soup into 6 bowls and serve immediately.

3. Acorn Squash Soup

1 Acorn Squash, seeded and baked
1 leek whites, sliced
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
1/4 cup lemon grass, chopped
3-4 cups broth
2 tbs olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Sauté leeks in a soup pot until soft. Add ginger and lemon grass. On medium heat, mix in baked squash and add broth. Bring to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and let cool. Using an immersion blender or in a food processor, purée soup. Serve hot or cold. Garnish with creme fraiche.

4. Dal

2 cups red lentils
1 medium onion, diced
1 inch ginger, grated
3-4 cloves garlic, grated
2 tbs curry spice blend
2-3 tbs olive or vegetable oil
2-3 tomatoes, diced
1 cup spinach leaves
~ 4-6 cups water
~ 1 cup yoghurt
salt, to taste
optional, 1 tbs brown sugar to round out taste and cut acid

In a larger pot, bring lentils and water to a boil. In a separate pan, heat oil and sauté onion until translucent. Add spice blend and cook until softened. Add ginger and garlic and be careful not to burn. When the water in the lentil pot is boiling, add hot onions and spices to the pot and stir. Simmer and add vegetables. Bring to a gentle boil. Stir in yoghurt and test for salt.

For a full protein, serve with rice.


5. Pluma Maus (Plum Soup)

4+ cups seeded plums
1 cinnamon stick
4-6 cloves
1-2 star anise
4-6 cups water
2 tbs corn starch
2+ cups sugar
¼ cup lemon juice

In a large pot, bring plums, spices, sugar and water to a boil, reserving one cup cold water and ½ cup sugar.

In a dry cup, mix ½ cup sugar with the corn starch. Whisk in the cold water and lemon juice and set aside until the plums have softened. Stir in to pot and let boil for at least one minute. Simmer and serve hot or cold plain, with vanilla ice cream, a egg white meringue pudding (floating island) or a cream of wheat pudding.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Warming soups

As featured Satuday morning on Kerän Sanders CBC Weekend Morning Show.

Curried Squash Soup

1 Squash, seeded and baked (small to medium sized)
1 medium onion, diced
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
2 tbs curry spices (add a pinch extra ground cinnamon and ground cloves)
4-6 cups broth (test thickness of soup)
1 cup yoghurt
2 tbs olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Sauté onions in a soup pot until soft. Add ginger and curry spices. On medium heat, mix in baked squash and add broth. Bring to a gentle boil. Stir in yoghurt. Remove from heat and let cool. Using an immersion blender or in a food processor, purée soup. Garnish with a bit of yoghurt.

Leek and Potato Soup

3-4 Leek whites, sliced
4-5 medium white or yellow potatoes, peeled and diced (keep in cold water to prevent browning)
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground white pepper
salt, to taste
1 litre broth (low-sodium chicken, eg)
1 cup whipping cream
1 tbs olive oil

In a soup pot, sauté the sliced leek whites with the olive oil on medium heat until they are softened and begin to turn translucent. Add diced potatoes and stir. Add seasoning and broth and bring to a boil. When the potatoes are soft, add the cream. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender or in a food processor, purée the soup. Return to stove and serve hot.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

A taste of Tuscany

I had the pleasure last night of presenting foods of Tuscany for a fund raising event for the Assiniboine Park Conservatory held at the Madison Square MLCC. Upcoming events are posted in the Leisure Guide.

Most Tuscan food is of the Slow Food variety such as Osso Bucco and other slowly grilled meats and stews. Here is a sampling of some more quickly prepared items that are specialties of the region. Photos coming later today.
2. Tuscan Squash Salad


1. Bruschetta con pomodoro e basilico

This is bruschetta in its simplest, tastiest form.

The next step in bruschetta assembly is rubbing the toasted bread with garlic, before or after sprinkling on the olive oil, and adding a pinch of salt.

* Italian or French bread, cut in 1/2 inch slices
* fresh, ripe, firm tomato, washed and coarsely chopped
* fresh basil leaves, whole or shredded
* olive oil, extra virgin, the best
* garlic, peeled, whole (optional)
* salt to taste

Grill or toast bread. Charcoal is great!

Place sliced bread under the broiler, in the toaster or best yet over a charcoal grill and toast.

Rub toast with a clove of garlic or not, depending on taste.

Drizzle with olive oil.

Spoon chopped tomato onto bread.

Scatter some basil. Alternatively, place the tomatoes, basil, garlic (chopped fine), olive oil and salt in a bowl and mix.

Set bowl at table alongside the toasted bread and simply spoon on mixture.

Some prefer to use sliced rather than chopped tomato.

2. Tuscan Squash Salad

1 lb squash (butternut, hubbard, or any small firm variety except spaghetti), peeled, seeded and cut in 5-inch slices
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbs honey, warm and divided into two parts
½ cup chopped walnuts
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs walnut oil
½ tsp kosher or sea salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
~ 6 cups mixed baby greens, lightly packed
½ cup crumbled feta

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Toss the squash and olive oil in a large bowl. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and lightly brush with half of the honey. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn and brush with the remaining honey. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the squash is cooked through. Some varieties take longer to cook.

While the squash is baking, toast the walnuts lightly. Whisk together the lemon juice, walnut oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Toss the greens with the vinaigrette in a large bowl and place on serving plates. Top with 3-5 slices of squash. Sprinkle with the walnuts and feta, season and serve while the squash is still warm.

3. Sage Butter pasta (Burro e salvia)

100g butter.
Bunch of fresh sage leaves
80g grated Parmesan
Black pepper.

Wash and dry the sage leaves. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the sage. Cook very gently over a low flame taking care not to let the butter burn. Pour over cooked pasta and stir through well together with freshly grated parmesan. This super-quick sauce is ideal with 'naked ravioli' (ravioli filling without the pasta) but is also suitable with any short pasta. In this case, drain the cooked pasta keeping back a little of the water. Return the pasta to the saucepan, add the sage and butter and stir over a low heat for a minute.

Remove from the heat and stir in a good helping of grated Parmesan.

The sauce should look smooth and creamy; if it has dried out too much, add a few drops of milk or fresh cream. Grind a little black pepper over when serving.

4. Tuscan beans (Fagioli all'uccelletto)

This is perhaps Florence's most famous dish. Some include Italian sausage.

1 pound small white cannellini or great northern beans, soaked overnight
2 sprigs of sage
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic
5 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1 14 oz can tinned Italian plum tomatoes

DRAIN the beans and simmer in fresh water to cover, with 1 sprig of sage and 1 tablespoon olive oil, for about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender, adding salt when the beans begin to soften.

IN a separate pan (large enough to hold the beans) heat the remaining oil on low heat with the garlic and the rest of the sage so that the flavors infuse, but do not brown

ADD the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes, then add the drained beans, season with salt and pepper, and cook for another 15 minutes or so. There should be a good amount of sauce.

5. Zabaione (Zabaglione)

6 eggs.
200g sugar.
100ml dry Vin Santo (or sherry).
Finger biscuits.

Beat the egg whites in a bowl until they form stiff peak. In another, larger bowl beat the yolks and sugar together until frothy, creamy and pale yellow. Add the egg whites to the yolks and blend thoroughly until the mixture is smooth and even; add the Vin Santo. Serve in dessert goblets with the biscuits.

This dish is rather rich and filling and is therefore a good snack for children who have lost their appetite or for those whose work is physically demanding. Luckily children also love it, though I would suggest leaving out the Vin Santo or sherry Zabaione (Zabaglione)

Pellegrino Artusi wrote, "I wish all children's food were as harmless as this, for there would certainly be fewer nervy and hysterical people around today if it were".

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here are a few recipe ideas to add to your holiday celebrations

1. Shitake Mushroom Gravy
2 tbs all purpose flour
1/2 cup dry Sherry
3 tbs butter
12 ounces fresh shitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
2 cups dried sliced Shitake mushrooms, rehydrated in hot water for 30 minutes (available in Asian markets)
1 tbs + 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary or 2 tsp dried
2 cups whipping cream
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon or 1 tsp dried
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 cup white wine

Mix flour and Sherry in a small bowl until smooth. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and rosemary and sauté until mushrooms soften, about 3 min. Add flour paste and cook for at least 1 minute, stirring so as not to burn. Add whipping cream, thyme and tarragon and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Boil until thickens to a light gravy and add white wine. Cook on medium until thickens.

Can be made in advance.


2. Southwestern Turkey with Garlic-Ancho Chili Paste

(from Bon Appétit, November 1994, by request of some cousins)

3 heads garlic, roasted
3-4 large dried ancho chilies, dry roasted, soaked, stemmed, seeded and torn into pieces
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup honey

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree until a smooth paste. Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.

Corn Bread Stuffing
A. Buttermilk Corn Bread
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup sifted all purpose flour
6 tbs sugar
1 tbs baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, diced
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Butter bottom of 9x9x2-inch baking pan. Mix first 6 ingredients in processor. Add butter and cut in, using on/off turns until mixture is a coarse meal. Can be done by hand with pastry whisk. Beat buttermilk and eggs in a large bowl to blend. Add cornmeal mixture to egg mixture and blend. Transfer to buttered pan.

Bake until cornbread is light golden brown on top and toothpick comes out clean when testing, about 30 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Can be prepared 1 day in advance.

B. Southwestern Corn Bread Stuffing

Buttermilk Corn Bread

6 tbs butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups chopped green bell peppers
4 large poblano chillies, stemmed, seeded and chopped
3 large jalapeno chilies, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage or 4 tsp dried sage
1 1/2 tbs dried oregano
1 1/2 cups crushed corn chips or corn nachos
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
3 large eggs, beaen to blend
1 1/4 ~ cups canned cream-style corn

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Cut corn bread into 4 equal pieces. Crumble 3 piecs onto large baking sheet. Bake until slightly dry for about 20 minutes Transfer to very large bowl.

Melt butter in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell peppers, all chilies, sage and oregano and sauté until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the corn bread. Mix in cilantro, corn chis and corn kernels. Season with salt and pepper. Mix eggs into stuffing.


To bake inside turkey, first line the cavity with some ancho chili paste and mix in enough cream corn to moisten stuffing. Fill cavities with stuffing. Any remaining stuffing can be baked in a covered buttered dish for about 40 minutes. Uncover to brown for about 15 minutes.

Cover turkey with the remainder of the ancho chili paste. Add celery, tomatoes and allspice to roasting pan. Roast turkey at 350ºF for 20 minutes/lb or until juices are clear and leg joints are loose. Use 1-3 cups chicken broth for basting. If turkey is stuffed, tent with foil and add up to 1 - 1/2 hours, depending on size of turkey..

Allow turkey to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. This is very important as if the turkey is not allowed to rest, the juices will run out and will result in a very dry turkey.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Assiniboine Park Conservatory cooking series with MLCC - Fundraiser

I had the great pleasure of participating in a fundraising/educational event for the Assiniboine Park Conservatory at the Madison Square MLCC. Wednesday's theme was Southern France so I prepared the following items for evening. We also enjoyed some lavender syrup in a cocktail to pair with the rich chocolate mousse.

Enjoy! Contact the Assiniboine Park Conservatory to reserve your space in their other events.

1. Black olive Tapenade

1 cup black olives, pitted
½ cup softened sun dried tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ (+) cup Olive oil
Pepper, to taste

Blend all ingredients to a paste in a processor. Adjust seasoning to taste. Use on crackers, baguettes, stuffed in meats, etc.


2. Ratatouille

1 large Globe Eggplant, cubed
½ (+) cup good olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 lb tomatoes, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 red peppers, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 tbs dried Herbes de Provençe
Pepper, to taste

If eggplant is not absolutely fresh, cut and salt and rinse out after 30 minutes. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and cook onions until translucent. Add eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and garlic and stir gently. Add the Herbes de Provençe, season with salt and pepper and stir. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until much of the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Enjoy with baguettes, couscous, rice, etc.

3. Foie Gras with apples and Calvados

1 Foie Gras, trimmed, de-veined and cut into serving-sized pieces
2-3 tart apples, cored and thinly sliced
2-3 shallots, minced
Drizzle olive oil
¼ - ½ cup Calvados
¼ cup unsweetened butter
Pinch truffle salt or truffle oil
Crostini slices

Sauté shallots until translucent in 1 tsp butter and some olive oil. Add apple slices and sauté until soft. Add a healthy splash of Calvados and simmer. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining unsweetened butter with some olive oil and quickly add the foie gras slices. The butter/olive oil will prevent too much smoking. Turn slices and add Calvados and reduce.

Place apple mixture on a crostini slice and top with a piece of foie gras. Add some cracked pepper and a pinch of truffle salt.


4. Chocolate Honey Mousse

Sweetening the mousse with honey adds a Provençal touch to a classic French dessert.

2 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
12 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
5 tablespoons honey
Stir 3/4 cup cream, chocolate and honey in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Cool, stirring occasionally.
In large bowl, beat 1 1/4 cups cream until soft peaks form. Fold cream into chocolate mixture in 2 additions. Divide mousse among eight 3/4-cup ramekins. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
Whip remaining 1/2 cup cream to firm peaks. Spoon a dollop of cream in center of each mousse.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Roasted Corn Chowder

(photo from google files soon to be changed)
As featured this weekend on CBC's Weekend Morning show with Kerän Sanders.

Roasted Corn Chowder

This can be prepared as a vegetarian option by omitting the pancetta and using vegetable stock.

5 ears corn, husks on
3-5 sweet potatoes, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 tbs olive oil
1 cup chopped slab bacon (I used pancetta in this recipe)
1 roasted red pepper
4 cups stock (vegetarian, chicken, etc)
½ tsp dried marjoram
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
500 ml whipping cream (for heart healthy recipes, try one tin fat free milk)
Roast corn with husks on at 2 minutes a side. When cooled, remove husks and cut corn off of cobs. One method is to place cob upright in the middle of a Bundt pan and cut around. Saute onion with pancetta pieces until onion is translucent. Add corn, sweet potatoes, roasted red pepper and combine. Add the soup stock and spices and bring to a boil. Simmer and add spices. Add the whipping cream and simmer. Serve hot.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

In Season Now! Chilled Roasted Beet Soup and Persian Carrots

As featured this morning on Beverley Watson's CBC Weekend Morning Show.

1.Chilled Roasted Beet Soup

4-5 large Beets
1 head roasted garlic
1 large yellow onion, medium chopped
2-3 tbs good olive oil
1/4 cup champagne or sherry vinegar
1/2 - 2/3 cup orange juice
2-4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

On a hot BBQ or in oven, roast peeled beets wrapped in foil until soft, turning to prevent burning. Roast garlic at the same time.

In a large skillet or soup pot, sauté onion in olive oil on medium heat until soft and translucent. Add cut up beets and squeeze out garlic into pot. Sauté until vegetables have softened. Add soup stock and season with salt and pepper to taste. If using golden beets, use white pepper.

Remove soup from heat and add orange juice and vinegar. Using an immersion blender or food processor, purée until smooth. When soup has cooled, chill in refrigerator at least over night. Top with a dollop of Creme Frâiche and sprinkle with a few threads of saffron.

2.Persian Carrots

4-5 medium carrots, sliced on the diagonal
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbs butter
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped dates (wonderful fresh dates found at Halal Meats and Specialty Foods on Maryland)
1 inch grated fresh ginger
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs brown sugar

In a sauté pan on medium high heat, sauté onions in butter until beginning to soften. Add sliced carrots and stir. After a few minutes, add the raisins, almonds, dates, ginger and salt and pepper. Continue cooking for several minutes until the carrots begin to soften. Add brown sugar and reduce heat until ready to serve.


Saturday, August 01, 2009

In Season Now! Kerala Cabbage Thoren and Saag Paneer

(photo from, from left;
Carrot Thoran, Cabbage Thoran, Beetroot Thoran, Potato Thoran and Beans Thoran)
I found an image that illustrated the versatility of Thoran

As featured this morning on Beverley Watson's CBC Weekend Morning Show.
The first recipe is from Kerala, a Cabbage Thoren (dry coconut based

Cabbage Thoren

2 cups finely shredded cabbage
salt, to taste
2 tbs oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp black gram dhal or urdad dal *
1 large onion, finely chopped
1-2 green chillies, sliced thinly in rounds
a few curry leaves *
1/2 cup finely grated coconut *

1. Heat oil in a pot on medium high heat and add the mustard seeds.
The seeds will pop. Then add the dhal and fry until it becomes golden
brown. Add onion, green chillies, curry leaves and sauté. When
almost translucent add grated coconut and stir for a few minutes.
2. Toss in the cabbage and add salt to taste. Gently sauté until
water has been absorbed or evaporated.

Note: red and green chillies have a lovely appearance. Cauliflower,
beans, carrots and other vegetables can be prepared similarly.


Saag Paneer

1-inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
6+ cloves of garlic, peeled
1 fresh hot green chili, sliced roughly
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbs "curry powder" spice blend (I make my own but several excellent ones are available commercially)
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
~ 4 tbs vegetable or olive oil
6-8 cups chopped mixed greens (spinach, kale, chard, beet greens, sorrel, arugula, mustard greens, etc)
1 - 2 chopped tomatoes
1 cup yoghurt
1 tbs butter (optional)
salt, to taste
paneer (homemade or available at Dino's on Notre Dame in block or frozen)
1 tsp brown sugar

Place the ginger, garlic and green chili into a small blender with a few tablespoons of water and purée until you have a smooth paste. In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil and add the onion. When the onion is translucent, add the spices and cook on medium heat until the spices are soft. Then add the chopped tomato and the ginger, garlic, chili paste. When they have softened, add the greens, slowly so as to let them cook down and stir all together. Add the salt. When the greens have cooked down, add the yoghurt, butter if desired and remove from heat. Using an immersion blender or a blender, mix all of the ingredients into a purée. Return to heat and add the fried or non-fried paneer. Cook slowly with a lid so as to not have the hot vegetables bubble up and burn you.

Serve with rice or naan or other flat breads.


Tomatoes are added to the recipe so as to allow the body to access the rich iron and other nutrients in the greens. Otherwise, the body would not absorb them.

* Wonderful spices, flat breads and other ingredients are available at Halal Meat Centre & Specialty Foods at 206 Maryland Street, Winnipeg and at Dino's Grocery Mart at 460 Notre Dame Avenue

Saturday, July 18, 2009

In Season Now! Grilled Caesar Salad and Garlic Scapes ideas.

(photo from Flickr)

This morning on CBC's Weekend Morning Show, hosted today by Laurie Hoogstraten featured some local greens including Romaine lettuce heads for Grilled Caesar Salad and Garlic Scapes, which can be used in a wide range of recipes.

Grilled Caesar Salad

4 whole Romaine Heads – serves 4

Place whole Romaine lettuce heads in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Place over a very hot grill and close BBQ. Turn and score lettuce head completely and then return to large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss with some of the following Caesar salad dressing, leaving heads whole. Serve whole Romaine lettuce head, one per serving.

Linda’s Classic Caesar Salad Dressing
1 oz Anchovies (approx 2) – I use anchovy paste
1 Tbls Fresh garlic, pressed
1Tbls Dijon mustard
½ Tbls Worcestershire sauce
1 Egg yolk, coddled
½ cup Good quality virgin olive oil
1 tsp Lemon juice
2 Tbls Red wine vinegar
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup Seasoned croutons
Freshly ground pepper.

Place anchovies and fresh garlic in wooden salad bowl. Crush into fine paste.
Add Dijon & Worcestershire and stir.
Add egg yolk, stir. SLOWLY add olive oil while continuously stirring.
Add lemon juice, red wine vinegar and ½ the parmesan. Stir.

Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are the tender curvy greens that grow from the hardneck variety of garlic. The greens eventually straighten but are at their best when still curly. Cook as you would asparagus with a mild garlic flavour.

Garlic Scape Pesto
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp. fresh lime or lemon juice
1/4 lb. scapes
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt to taste
Puree scapes and olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Stir in Parmesan and lime or lemon juice and season to taste.

Fried Scapes

Cut scapes to green bean size and saute them in butter and salt for six to eight minutes. During the last minute of cooking add about 1 tsp. of balsamic vinegar.

Spinach and Scape Frittata
3 Tbsp. olive oil
10 eggs
1 cup (1/2 lb.) chopped raw spinach
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped basil
1/2 c. finely chopped garlic scapes
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl mix all ingredients except oil and scapes. Heat oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet on the stove. Add the scapes and saute until tender on medium heat for about five minutes. Pour egg mixture in skillet with garlic and cook over low for three minutes. Place in oven and bake uncovered for 10 minutes or until top is set. Cut into wedges and serve.


Saturday, July 04, 2009

In Season Now! Pea Shoot Pesto and Rhubarb Slush Cocktail

(photo by Karen)

Recipes as featured on Beverley Watson's CBC Weekend Morning Show this morning with Agatha Moir.

Pea Shoot Pesto
1/4 lb fresh, young pea shoots
1 bunch chives, chopped (or spring onion)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup toasted pinenuts

to serve:
1 lb hot cooked pasta (try Nature's Pasta!)
1/2 lb peeled, grilled shrimp (optional)(simple recipe follows)
garnish: additional pea shoots

Place the pea shoots, chives, garlic, cheese, olive oil, pinenuts salt and pepper in a food processor or blender, pulse until a thick paste forms. Toss with 1 lb cooked pasta, additional pea shoots and shrimp.

Yield: about 4 servings

A basic Pesto recipe is so easy to adapt to many available herbs. I love Arugula Pesto as well. For Arugula, use some spinach in the mix to round out the flavour of any particularly peppery variety as well as a splash of lemon juice. For Basil Pesto, I like to use Sweet, Vietnamese, Purple, and many other varieties in the mix to make a complex flavour.

One can use Pesto for a variety of applications as well. I love it in pasta but I often use it in other soups and sauces as well as stuffed in Chicken Breasts, or stuffed in Lamb Chops. When you are letting your BBQ’d steak rest, spoon a small amount onto the steak and let it melt into the grilled meat.


Simple Grilled Shrimp
1/2 lb large shrimp, peeled
1 grapefruit, zested and juiced
1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup vodka
2-3 tbs. olive oil
salt and pepper

In a non-metallic bowl, mix grapefruit juice, zest, garlic, vodka, olive oil and salt and pepper. Add peeled shrimp, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Place marinated shrimp on a hot grill, cover for a minute and then turn when pink with some grill marks. Remove from grill and enjoy as an appetizer, main course or to top the pasta dish.


Ruth's Rhubarb Slush

1 qt. Fresh rhubarb
1 qt water
1 cup sugar.
Stew the rhubarb & sugar. Strain. Add 1 can of frozen lemonade. Pink lemonade adds color. Put into an ice cream pail & add 1 26 oz. Bottle of Vodka. Keep in freezer. When ready to serve fill glass ½ full of rhubarb mixture & add ginger ale or seven up. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pickerel Recipes

Sweet Lake Winnipeg Pickerel is now in Season until July 10th. Recipe as featured on Beverley Watson's CBC Weekend Morning Show.

1. Parchment Paper Fish
Per Fillet:
1 fillet Pickerel – now on sale at Gimli Fish
1/2 carrot, peeled and then peeled into strips
1/2 leek whites, julienned
pinch sea salt
pepper to taste
3-5 basil leaves, chiffonade (use your favourite herb)
parchment paper
spray olive oil*

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Place fish on top of very lightly oiled parchment paper. Place basil, carrot, leek and pinch of salt and pepper on top of fish. Lightly spray with olive oil. Seal paper and place in oven or on top of grill for up to 20 minutes in the oven, depending on thickness of fillet. If using a BBQ, place fish on upper level and not directly over the heat. The fish is so delicate. Paper will puff up. Remove and serve immediately.

*I like to use a truffle oil olive oil blend.


2. Tomato Saffron Poached Pickerel

(Makes 4 servings)
1 shallot minced
1 tbs olive oil
1 chopped tomato
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon Saffron*
1/4 red pepper flakes
1/2teaspoon thyme
3 tablespoons tomato puree
1 cup dry white wine
¼ cup orange juice (makes a very fresh flavour)
4 fillets Pickerel
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté shallot in olive oil and cook until translucent. Add tomato, Saffron, garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme, tomato puree and wine. Cook on medium heat until well incorporated. Add Pickerel Fillets on top of sauce. Cook on high for a minute (varies by thickness of fish) and turn fish pieces over. Continue cooking until fish begins to flake. Remove from heat and serve.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Birthday celebrations menu

Thank you to Ivan from the Pritchard MLCC for the excellent wine and port pairings.

~ Birthday Celebration Menu 60 Guests ~

1. Sashimi Spoons One bite Ahi Tuna Sashimi with grilled Udon, soy sauce, ginger and wasabi.
Pairing: Sashimi Spoons.... this is a big flavour opener, with a lot of different textures and power notes, so I would suggest to match this with a lager beer, #8583 Grolsch Lager, or a sparkling white, either # 803361 Willm Blanc de Noir or #7451 Simmont- Febvre Brut. The lager beer has a decent double hopped Euro style to it that would stand up to the spiciness of the dish and the sparklers would contrast the "hot" nature with crisp notes. Personally, the Willm would be my choice.

2. Spanikopita Triangles made with spinach, feta, mushrooms and pine nuts.
Pairing: Spanikopita Triangles.... this is a Greek Mediterranean dish that I think has a lot of earthy tones to it. A nice white dry will do nicely here. Pick either #541185 Sandhill Pinot Blanc or #497248 Trius Unoaked Chardonnay. Two Canadian wines from opposite sides of the country. The pinot blanc has a good fruity aromatic and mouthfeel that would compliment the earthiness of the dish and the fresh melon/apple of the chard will contrast the veggie components.

3. Sautéed Pickerel Cheeks sautéed pickerel deglazed with Vermouth and garnished with Arugula Pesto .
Pairing: Sautéed Pickerel Cheeks.... nothing but a firm German style here! Being on a Canadian kick, I picked either # 234583 Cave Spring Riesling or # 142893 Sumac Ridge Gewurztraminer. Here you need, I think, a bit of sweetness to balance the herb and woodiness of the vermouth. Either deliver, but again, my pick would be the Cave Spring. The water that irrigates the vineyard falls over a dolomite escarpment that literally injects the grape with minerals and flintiness. This wine loves fish textures.

4. Cheese platter with fresh Dates A variety of cheeses served with baguettes.
4. Cheese platter with dates....... a different direction. Something from the Iberian peninsula. I would go with either # 270363 Castillo de Alamasa or #7121 Tronco Tempranello reds. I am assuming that most of the cheese will be either mid or old in nature, so a mid bodied, fairly fruity red is in order.

5. Bouché pastries filled with Shitake and Porcini mushrooms

6.Lemon Almond and Gingerbread Orange Biscotti

Pairings: Bouche Pastries and assorted Biscotti.... both these dishes have earthy components, the mushrooms and the almonds, so a "earth Mother" style of wine. A burgundian type. Either #3855 Sileni Pinot Noir or #591313 Malivoire Gamy. The "barnyard", loamy nature of either of the grapes will match the flavours of the dishes but there will be enough acid in the respective wines to add a bit of a bite to the finish. Personally, the Sileni Pinot Noir is my pick... New Zealand is the "hot" area now.

7. Chocolate Sin Torte with ganache icing
Pairings: Chocolate Sin Torte..... here you will need a bit of power and sweet to round out the evening. Three picks... a nice brown ale, #512756 Morocco Ale, #271585 Fonseca BIN 27 porto, or #801209 De Bortoli Tawny Port. The ale has a nutty and slightly tart nature that would contrast the tortes. It would highlight the chocolate flavours. The ports would be ideal. If there are any cigar people there, the tawny is choice. The woody aromatic and finish matches a good Cuban any day!

8. Coffee

9. San Pelligrino Water

Surprises: Golden Caviar and Smoked Salmon
Ahi Tuna, Pickerel Cheeks, caviar and smoked salmon from Gimli Fish

Friday, June 05, 2009

Weekend Morning - Local Asparagus 2 ways

I'll be featuring recipes and sources for local produce and products for the Summer on Beverley Watson's CBC Radio show, Weekend Morning

There is some lovely local asparagus now available. These lovely asparagus spears were grown near St. Malo, Manitoba. The first recipe is my one and only microwavable recipe that can be easily adapted to grilling the asparagus as well.

1. Simple Asparagus

1 bunch Asparagus, washed and bottom ends snapped off
1-2 lemons, zest only (nice alternative is zest of grapefruit)
Healthy drizzle good Sesame Oil
1/2 - 1 tsp water
ground White Pepper
few pinches sea salt or Fleur d'sel

Place washed asparagus in a microwavable dish. Drizzle sesame oil over spears. Zest lemons over asparagus spears and sprinkle on white pepper and salt. Optional: one could also sprinkle sesame seeds over asparagus as well. Add a bit of water and cover dish with microwavable plastic wrap with a small air vent. Cook in microwave for about 2 minutes (each microwave oven is different).

Serve immediately. You can sprinkle more zest over the asparagus spears after cooking as well.


2. Wrapped Asparagus in Phyllo

1 package Phyllo pastry (thaw in package and cut into quarters)
1 bunch Asparagus spears, washed, ends snapped off and cut into appetizer-sized lengths
1/2 cup chevre
White pepper and sea salt to taste
melted butter to brush onto pastry

Options: ground nutmeg, lemon zest, pesto, etc. Have fun with it.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Covering the phyllo strips with a dampened cloth, use one or two sheets at a time, place a spoonful of the seasoned Chevre onto one end of the pastry. Place one or two cut asparagus spear pieces onto the chevre and roll closed the length of the pastry. Place on baking sheet and repeat until finished asparagus spears. The asparagus can poke out of the pastry at either end. Between every few completed rolls, brush with melted butter to prevent pastry from drying out. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes, or until browned, depending on oven.

Serve as an appetizer or party fare.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lamb, Morel Mushrooms and Eggplant

(Photos by Karen)
We enjoyed some wonderful Manitoba Lamb. This dinner used rack of lamb but chops are also possible. If using New Zealand lamb, cooking time is reduced as the parts are smaller.

Thank you Ivan for the wonderful Tunisian wine recommendation, Chateau Defleur Carignan-Syrah, 2005. It is a perfect match.

I frenched or prepped the rack of lamb by cutting between each rib and trimming the fat. Then I put the lamb in a ziplock bag with 2 tablespoons of Ras el Hanout, sealed and rubbed the meat with the spice blend. I let it marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours. Drizzle olive oil over rack of lamb. Sear or grill rack of lamb over high heat on all sides and then roast in a 400ºF oven for 12 - 18 minutes, depending on the size of the rack of lamb. Let rest after roasting for 5-10 minutes.

Morels and Cocktail Tomatoes

2 cups fresh Morel Mushrooms
2 pints Cocktail Tomatoes
1 head roasted garlic
1/4 cup Vermouth
3 tbs butter
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp white pepper
pinch of sea salt

Sauté morels and tomatoes in butter over medium heat. When tomatoes start to split, add cloves from roasted garlic and season with the nutmeg, pepper and salt. When cooked through, add Vermouth and reduce over heat. Enjoy!

Imam Baldi

Using Japanese Eggplant, I peeled three strips off of each eggplant, placed on a baking dish and drizzled olive oil over the eggplant.

Next, grill eggplant until the berry is soft and cooked through.

Split open the eggplants and spoon the rich tomato sauce into each eggplant.
4 Japanese eggplant (peel off 3 slices of outer skin length-wise around the eggplant)
olive oil (for frying and flavour)
Rich tomato sauce (recipe follows)
cilantro (optional)

Rich Tomato Sauce

1 tin crushed tomatoes (organic fire roasted is nicest)
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp brown sugar (to reduce acid of tomatoes)

Preheat oven to 350°F. On the stove top, preheat olive oil in sauté pan. Carefully brown egplants on all sides. This takes some time. One option is to prepare the eggplant on a BBQ by drizzling olive oil over the eggplants prior to grilling. Remove eggplants from pan and place in a baking dish. Let eggplants rest. Split open the eggplants and spoon in the rich tomato sauce into each eggplant. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and drizzle with good olive oil. Bake for up to 30 minutes. Imam Baldi can be enjoyed hot, cold or room temperature. Serve with bread.


Blood Orange Reduction
2-3 shallots, minced
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup chopped blood oranges or marmalade (I used blood orange marmalade)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tbs butter
1/4 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté shallots in olive oil until translucent over medium heat. Add the blood orange marmalade and incorporate. Stir in the white wine, thyme and butter and salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Blend with an immersion blender. Return to heat to low. Spoon over grilled meats.

Dinner is served!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fiddleheads - their own posting this time around

Fiddlehead Ferns with Brown Butter and Pancetta

One of the special treats of spring are fiddlehead ferns, which grow wild along mossy stream banks. They are simply the immature leaf fronds of ostrich fern plants that have not yet opened. Fern leaves are poisonous once they open and can only be enjoyed in this early stage, when they taste like a cross between artichokes and asparagus.

After a fiddlehead is removed from the stalk, the cut end starts to turn brown. Be sure to trim back the stem (about 1/4 inch) to the healthy green section before cooking.

Kosher salt
3 pounds fiddle head ferns, trimmed and washed
1/4 lb chopped pancetta
6 tablespoons brown butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly nutmeg

1. In a large pot bring 2 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Fill a medium bowl halfway with ice water. Drop the fiddleheads into the pot and cook for 1 minute. Drain the fiddleheads in a colander, then submerge in the ice water until completely cool. Let the fiddleheads drain well in a colander and wrap them in a clean kitchen towel to dry.
2. Slowly brown butter in a large skillet. Bring up to higher temperature and cook chopped pancetta.
3.Heat for a minute or two until they are warm, then divide the fiddleheads among the plates. Serve at once as a side dish or on Chinese soup spoons as an appetizer.


Fiddleheads are available at DeLuca's on Portage.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Sunday's Event

Escargot, Ahi Tuna, Oysters and Calimari all available at Gimli Fish on Dufferin in Winnipeg.

Sunday's Menu
Surf, Turf and more of the Earth

Ahi Tuna Udon Spoons
Oysters Rockefeller
Calimari with Chipotle Aioli
Escargot with Pesto Butter

Porcini Mushroom Consommé

Light on the Earth
Avocado, Grape Tomatoes, Balsamic Reduction

Turf and More Earth
Bison tenderloin with Ras el Hanout and Blood Orange Reduction
Roasted Yams
Turkish Eggplant with Yoghurt

Heavenly Delights
Pavlova with Meyers Lemon curd

Within Earth's Orbit
Assorted Cheeses with Montreal Baguettes and Fresh Dates

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

This Sunday's Dinner

This Sunday we are hosting a small event. The menu will include:

Kerala Shrimp
Turkish Yoghurt Eggplant
Porcini Mushroom Consomme
Elk Ribeye OR Rack of Lamb with Ras el Hanout
Roasted Vegetables AND/OR watercress arugula salad

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Slow Cooker Recipe - Lamb with ras el hanout and shredded cabbage

The Slow cooker or Crock Pot is being used more and more these days. Try this recipe using lamb shoulder and shredded red cabbage and spice it up with some Ras el Hanout.

Lamb with Ras el Hanout and Shredded Cabbage

1 lamb shoulder (I used Manitoba lamb)
1 head red cabbage, shredded
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs Ras el Hanout
1 bunch Chard, cut chiffonade style*
1 head garlic, peeled
2-3 chopped tomatoes (I also added a handful of sundried tomatoes)
1/4 cup chopped dates **
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup red wine
1-2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp sea salt

Put shredded cabbage, chopped tomatoes, chard, dates, apricots, vinegar, stock, red wine, garlic and salt in Slow cooker and turn on.

In a skillet, sauté the onion until translucent in 1 tbs olive oil. Add the Ras el Hanout and sauté until soft. Add to slow cooker and mix ingredients.

In the same skillet, on medium high heat, add 1 tbs olive oil and brown lamb shoulder on all sides. Nestle lamb into the vegetable mixture in the slow cooker and cover. Cook overnight or throughout the day until the lamb meat falls off of the bones. Remove meat from the slow cooker and de-bone or trim any extra fat. Place lamb pieces back in the slow cooker and keep hot until serving with baked potatoes or rice.


*To cut chiffonade style for leafy vegetables or basil, stack leaves in line on top of each other. Roll tightly and cut in thin slices from tip to end. Loosen the cut leaves.

**I used fresh dates from the Halal Meats and Specialty Foods Store on Maryland but you can use most varieties of dates.

chopped carrots or parsnips
leave out red wine from cooking if you don't cook with wine but watch the moisture Perhaps try Verjus, also available at Halal Meats and Specialty Foods Store on Maryland.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Reposting with new information!

These gorgeous squash were grown by Kelly Ditz, recent MESA Honorable Mention Award winner and amazing produce grower.

To buy directly from Kelly, please pre-order by calling (204)772-5486 for his full produce list which includes; Butternut, spaghetti, Turban, Boston Marrow, Sweetie Pie Pumpkin, Marina di Chioggia, Galeux D’Eysines, and Boston Marrow, Amish pie Pumpkin, Mandan Banquet, etc

He also provides much of the vegetables for Elkhorn Resort and Spa.

1. Marina d'Chioggia Gnocchi from Vegan Visitor

1 1/2 Cups Marina Di Chioggia Pumpkin, about 1/2 roasted
1 Russet Baking Potato, baked in it’s skin
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
Scant 1/2 teaspoon Dried Thyme Leaves
Pinch of Black Pepper & Nutmeg
1 3/4 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour, plus extra for rolling

Prick with a fork and bake the potato in a 350ºF oven for about 1 hour or in a microwave for 10-12 minutes, turning it over after 6 minutes.
Once the potato is just cool enough to handle, break it open and scrape the inside and continue to mash with the fork or a potato ricer.
Remove the roasted pumpkin from the skin. Place it in a sieve and allow it to drain as much extra moisture as possible.
Purée or pass the drained pumpkin through a sieve.
In a large bowl, mix the potato and the pumpkin purée with the remaining ingredients, adding in the flour 1/4 cup at a time.
Once the mixture comes together as a smooth, workable dough, transfer it to a flat board and cut it into eight pieces.
One by one, roll each of the pieces into 3/4″ diameter cylinders then cut them into 1/2″ pieces.
Using the back of a floured fork, push and roll each of the cut pieces down towards the end of the fork to create the ribbed gnocchi shape.
Roll in additional flour, if necessary and set aside.

Put a large pot of slightly salted water on to boil.
Once the water is rapidly boiling, drop the gnocchi in.
Cook only until the gnocchi begins to float, about 2 minutes, watching carefully being sure not to over cook.
Drain all at once or with a slotted spoon.
Serve immediately with butter, pesto, classic tomato sauce or toss with spinach and thyme.

2. Sautéed Squash with Pear

(photos by Karen)

1 small squash or pumpkin (size of a small cabbage)- NOT Spaghetti Squash
1 ripe pear
1 tbs. butter
drizzle olive oil
freshly grated nutmeg
1 oz Frangelico
salt and pepper

Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Save seeds on paper towel to dry for planting in Spring. I used a small version of the bumpy salmon coloured squash in the top photo.

Cut seeded squash into four pieces to make peeling easier. Peel and slice into wedges. Heat a sauté pan to medium heat. Melt butter with a drizzle of olive oil. Place squash slices in pan and slowly cook for ~20 minutes or until soft and beginning to brown on both sides. Add chopped pear, salt and pepper. Turn heat to medium high after pear has softened and add the Frangelico. Allow the liquid to cook down a bit.

Can be prepared in advance and warmed up. A nice side dish for a wide range of holiday feasting.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Kerala Chicken Curry

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 rounded tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
2-3 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 cup onion, thin, long slices
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger, thin slices
a few curry leaves *
1 tbs vinegar
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup first thick coconut milk from 1 cup dry unsweetened coconut**
2 cups thin second coconut milk **
3 sweet potatoes, small dice

(step 1)

Mix coriander, cayenne, turmeric and pepper together and set aside.

(step 2)

Fry mustard seeds in hot oil and saute onion, garlic, ginger and curry leaves in a larger cooking pot.

(step 3)

Move onions to the side and fry the spice mixture in the oil and stir for a few minutes.


Add meat, vinegar, salt and stir for a few minutes.

(step 5)

Mix thin second coconut milk and cook. Close the pan with a deep lid with a splash of water. When the meat is done, add the sweet potatoes.

(step 6)

After the sweet potatoes are cooked, stir in the thick first coconut milk. When the curry thickens, remove from heat.

(step 7)

Enjoy with roti, rice, naan, etc.

* Curry leaves are available at Dino's Grocery Mart on Notre Dame.

** To make your own first and second coconut milk, measure out one cup dry unsweetened coconut into a blender and add one cup very hot water. Blend well and strain. This is your first coconut milk. Take the drained blended coconut and return to the blender. Add another cup or two of very hot water and blend very well again. Drain. This is your second coconut milk.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Rich Moroccan Soup

(soup starting to simmer - photo by Karen)

This recipe can be made with a rich meat or vegetable broth. If using a vegetable broth, I recommend making a hearty mushroom stock along with other vegetables. I like to add dried porcini mushrooms for that earthy flavour. If using a meat based stock, use a dark meat stock or make a very rich chicken stock. For this one, I used a stock from Elk meat and added a chopped elk ribeye steak to the mix.

1 large onion, thinly sliced
1-2 tbs good olive oil
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced width-wise
3 medium carrots, cut into thin coins
1 1/2 - 2 cups medium dice sweet potatoes or yam
2 cups cooked chickpeas (Soak dry chick peas over night and cook until al dente in fresh water. If using tinned chick peas, rinse well in cold water to remove tinny taste)
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
2 tbs ras el hanout
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp brown sugar
salt, to taste
4-6+ cups rich stock
Optional: 1 chopped cooked steak or cooked roast meat
Also, use favourite vegetables such as a variety of peppers, cauliflower, parsnips, etc.

Saute onions on medium low heat in a soup pot with the olive oil until caramelized. Add chopped meat and zucchini. Add Ras el Hanout and stir. Add in remaining vegetables, chickpeas and garlic and stir. Pour in broth and bring to a slow boiling simmer. Add brown sugar and salt and let simmer until flavours are well incorporated.

Enjoy on a cool day for extra warming.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

By Request - Bitter Gourd Vattichularthiathu - AKA Karela

(photo by 3Quarks Daily article)

Okay, Malayalam is a really difficult language but the food is phenomenal.
Bitter Gourd is also known as Karela. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is held to have blood sugar regulating properties.

1/2 kg bitter gourd
1 tsp chili powder (cayenne)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 cup onion, thin long slices
Salt - to taste
1/2 cup oil

1. Slit open the bitter gourd, remove the seeds and cut into thin round slices.
2. Mix it with chili powder, turmeric and salt.
3. Par cook the bitter gourd slices in 1/2 cup briskly boiling water.
4. Fry the onion pieces in hot oil until crisp and golden brown in colour. Lift out and drain.
5. Add a little more oil if required and fry the bitter gourd. When crisp, lift it out and drain.
6. Mix the onion and bitter gourd together and serve.


Monday, February 16, 2009

MLCC Assiniboine Conservatory Fundraiser

(Google Images)

Last week I had the pleasure of preparing Nibbles and Noshes for a fundraising event for the Assiniboine Park Conservatory held at the MLCC. It is truly delightful to share recipes and food ideas with an interested group of people and to learn about plants from around the world. The following is what I prepared for that event. I will be involved in other events for the Assiniboine Park Conservatory and will post them here.


Nibbles and Noshes

1) Mushroom Toasts

2 cups sliced fresh mixed mushrooms
1 head roasted garlic
4-5 Shallots, diced
2 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. Butter
1/3 cup cream
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper
Crostini (sliced baguettes) or bouchés

Sauté shallots in olive oil until translucent. Add sliced Shitake Mushroooms and sauté on medium high heat until they begin to brown in the butter. Add roasted garlic, smoked paprika and white wine. Let cook down a little. Add cream and season to taste. Spoon onto crostini and toast in oven or into bouchés and serve while hot.


2) Soba Spoons

1 pkg Buckwheat Soba Noodles
2 tsp good Dijon Mustard
1 tsp grainy mustard
1-2 tsp good soy sauce
1 inch grated fresh ginger
2-3 tbs white vinegar
1/2 tsp white sugar
2 green onions, finely chopped
drizzle sesame oil

Cook Soba noodles in unsalted boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain in cold water immediately. Drain completely. Drizzle with sesame oil to prevent sticking and set aside to chill.

In a larger bowl, mix grated ginger, vinegar, mustards, soy sauce, sugar, finely chopped green onions and a drizzle of sesame oil. When ready to serve, gently mix noodles with sauce. With a fork, twirl a bite-sized amount of dressed noodles and place on a Chinese soup spoon. Place spoons on a platter and serve.

3) Ski Queen medley

Gjetost Goat Cheese
Roasted garlic
Toasted Pine nuts
Chopped cilantro
Baguette slices into crostini size slices or sourdough bread

Roast heads of garlic until fully caramelized. On a platter, place garlic heads or cloves, toasted pine nuts, chopped cilantro and brick or slices of Ski Queen Gjetost goat cheese.

To assemble, spread roasted garlic on bread topped with cheese, pine nuts and cilantro.

4) Bison Carpaccio
Recipe By: Karen
Serving Size: 10
Preparation Time: 0:20

8 ozs tenderloin frozen
2 cloves garlic minced
1/3 c pomegranate molasses
1/3 c vinegar (shallot, raspberry, etc)
2/3 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp truffle oil optional
1/4 tsp truffle salt optional
1 tbsp fig preserve (or pear)

Mix last 7 ingredients together and set aside. Thinly slice tenderloin piece.
You can use bison, elk or beef tenderloin. Arrange slices on a platter and
drizzle vinaigrette over meat. Garnish with fresh berries or green onions.
Serve with baguette slices or water crackers.
Per serving: 128 Calories; 14g Fat (99% calories from fat); 0g Protein; 0g
Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 0mg Sodium

5) Spanikopita Triangles
Recipe By: Karen
Serving Size: 48
Preparation Time: 2:00

1 pkg filo dough
2 pkgs frozen spinach
1 white onions chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 c mushroom sliced
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp paprika
3 1/2 tbspsolive oil
1 1/2 c feta cheese crumbled
1 egg
pepper to taste
1/3 c butter
Thaw pastry in package. In advance, prepare filling. Sauté onion and garlic
until translucent. Add mushrooms and sauté. Add thawed spinach and
spices. Cook on medium-high heat until some of the water has cooked off.
Add grated feta. Mix in one beaten egg. Remove from heat and cool.
To prepare pastries: Heat oven to 350F. Dampen tea towel. Cut rolled
pastry into four equal parts and lay out on cutting board. Cover with
dampened towel. Melt butter and set aside with pastry brush. Fill pastries in
desired shapes (triangles, pockets, in muffin or cupcake tins, etc). Brush
pastries with melted butter before filo turns papery. Bake until golden, about
15 minutes.
Per serving: 36 Calories; 3g Fat (77% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 1g
Carbohydrate; 10mg Cholesterol; 76mg Sodium