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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year! With Porztelchen (Portzelki, New Year's Cookies, Ollie Bollie, etc.)

Happy New Year!

I'm happy to say good-bye to 2013.  It was a very difficult year indeed but I am very optimistic about 2014.

Most people who know me also know that I don't deep fry food.  In fact, the deep fryer at my restaurant was used as a convenient shelf.  All the same, I'm sharing this traditional Mennonite dish that we'll be preparing today.  Another recipe for Portzelki can be found at the Mennonite Girls can Cook! site,  This recipe is my Großma's with a few variations from the other.  If you have instant yeast, you can skip the first step of starting the yeast and mix into the flour just before mixing.


2  pkgs (~4 1/2 tsp) yeast in 1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
Let stand for 10 minutes

2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 lb raisins or currants (soak and then gently dry on low oven on paper towel until water is off but plumped)
Flour for soft batter (~5 cups)
Optional:  good pinch saffron in warm milk

Combine milk, salt, sugar, baking powder, raisins and egg yolks.  Add 2 cups flour to yeast and milk and stir.  Let stand until bubbly.  Add remaining flour.  Beat egg whites to stiff peak and fold into batter.  Drop by spoonfuls into hot oil (375ºF).  Space evenly and do not over crowd.  Allow room for portzelky to turn over.  When fully cooked, drain and cool.

Serve with small bowls of sugar for dipping.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!  Photos coming soon!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chongqing Hot Pot (hūo go má là) - Perfect for icy cold days

Chongqing Hot Pot

We are also serving this at Christmas time this year!

When I lived in Chongqing, I had this special dish quite often with large groups of people.  It is quite a party or communal fare.  It brings back wonderful memories of my time in China and the wonderful people I got to meet.  

2 cups stock (turkey, chicken, beef)
4 cups water
1 cup chopped mushrooms (button, shitake)
1 tbs garlic black bean paste
1 tbs chili paste
1 tbs chili bean paste
1 tbs chili oil
1-5 whole dried red chilies
1 bunch green onions, 1 inch chop
1/2 cup white wine or Mirin (sweetness balance)

Dry Spices: 3 star anise, 1tbsp Sichuan Peppercorn, 1 black cardamom, 4 green cardamom, 2 dried ginger, 1 piece cinnamon stick, 3 slice liquorice, and 1 tbsp fennel seeds 

Simmer all ingredients together for a long time until a rich broth (you may need to add more water during the eating time as it reduces quite a bit).  Serve at the tabletop with the following optional items to enjoy cooking with chopsticks.  Serve with rice. 

Firm tofu
Garlic Greens
Green Onions
Green Cabbage leaves or baby bok choy, baby Shanghai cabbage or Savoy
Red or Green pepper slices
Enoki Mushrooms
Shitake Mushrooms (without stems)
Bean Sprouts
Thinly Sliced Beef or lamb (buy sliced or slice while half frozen)
Blood Tofu (coagulated pig's blood, not for the picky eater but one eats everything)
Skinned and boned eel slices

Hints:  Eat veggies first.  Serve with dipping sauces that will contrast as well as cut fat or enhance it, Sichuan peanut sauce, Hoisin, etc.

Braunschweiger Kuchen, Großma's recipe, by request

These cookies are from an old recipe of my grandmother's (Großma Klassen).  The recipe calls for 4 1/4 cups flour but the extra 1/4 cup is not often used.

Braunschweiger Kuchen

 2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup butter
4 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground mace (or nutmeg)
1 tsp soda
1 tsp ground star anise
1 egg
1tbs lemon juice
1 tbs grated lemon zest
2 tbs milk

Mix the sugar and honey and heat over gentle heat (flame) until melted.  Do not boil.  Add butter, lemon juice and zest.  Cool.

Combine milk to which a beaten egg is added and stir liquids into flour that has been sifted with spices and soda.  Should be a soft sticky dough.

Let stand, wrapped in plastic, overnight.

Roll dough out 1/8 inch thick.  Sprinkle with sugar and roll over once.  Cut into shapes.

Bake at 350ºF for up to 15 minutes (I baked for 11-12 minutes until just brown, depends on pans and ovens).  Store when cooled in containers with a piece of apple until cookies are soft - up to 3 weeks.

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Chicken Tajine and Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup cooking demo

Today I had the pleasure of presenting the following recipes at D. A. Niels Gourmet Kitchenware.  Cooking with tajines is very elegant and simple and always yields a beautiful result.  I've cooked whole a whole 10 lb chicken in a medium-sized tajine in a Korean recipe(Samgeytang) and it was fall off of the bone tender within 1 hour.  

These recipes are adapted from Paula Wolfert's, The Food of Morocco.  Please see her work as a great resource.

Chicken Tajine with Apricots and almonds

1 chicken – (3 1/2 lbs)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup apricots
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup whole blanched almonds
vegetable oil for frying

Rub all the chicken pieces with salt, pepper and cumin. Let stand for at least one hour.

Place onions in a wide shallow casserole with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 cup water, cover and steam for 15 minutes.

Brown the almonds in 4-5 tbs oil in a large skillet and drain on paper towels. Brown the chicken evenly on all sides in the oil and transfer to the steamed onions. Cover with parchment paper and cook in tajine on the lowest heat for about 1 1/4 hours.

Discard the parchment paper. Add the Apricots and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from the heat. Serve with almonds sprinkled on top.


Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup

1 yellow onion, chopped
pinch coarse salt
1 1/2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs butternut, kabocha, or calabaza squash halved, peeled and seeded and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks (about 6 cups)
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp La Kama Spice Mixture (1 tsp each of ground ginger, turmeric and white pepper, good pinch of grated nutmeg, 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon and optional cubeb pepper)
1/2 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche
1/2 lb crumbled chevre
1 tsp or more to taste Harissa paste (available in select stores, including Herat Foods on Pembina)
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook onion in heavy bottomed pot or casserole dish (tajine) on medium low heat with the olive oil until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes
2. Add the squash, cover with parchment paper and/lid and cook for 20 minutes.
3. Add tomato paste, spices and 4 cups of hot water and bring to a boil. Then simmer until the squash is tender, about 20+ minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Blend in batches or with an immersion blender until smooth. Add the cream and 3/4 of the cheese and the harissa at the end. Purée until velvety.
5. Bring up to heat and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve into warmed bowls and top each portion with a light sprinkling of the remaining cheese.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Easy bread for the holidays! Focaccia

This bread was made daily in my recent restaurant and I want to share the recipe because it is so easy and yields excellent results.

Focaccia (Rosemary)
4 1/2 tsp yeast (2 pkgs)
2 cups warm water (110ºF)
1 tbs sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
2 tsp salt
2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary, 3 tbs chopped fresh sage, or 3 tbs chopped mixed herbs (optional)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for brushing the dough
Coarse sea salt

If using instant yeast, combine last in bowl with all of the dry ingredients and then add to the mixing bowl with the warm water and olive oil.  If using non-instant, let bloom in warm water with olive oil and sugar.

Using a dough hook on your mixer, combine the dry ingredients to the wet and mix on low until the dough is soft and pliable and comes off of the bowl to form a ball.  Turn dough out onto counter with a dusting of flour and knead.  Dough needs human hands.  Dough needs the love.

Preheat oven to 475ºF.  Let dough rise in an oiled bowl covered and in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours or until at least doubled.  Spread dough out onto baking sheet (9X13) and let rise for 30 minutes.  Dimple the dough with your fingertips, brush with oil and sprinkle with course sea salt and  additional optional herbs or:  nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, spring onions, chives, olives, sauteéd red onions, roasted garlic, etc.

Place dough in oven and reduce the temperature to 375ºF and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until light golden.  If baking in a ceramic dish, add up to 7 additional minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Christmas from around the world with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC

Tonight I will be presenting the following recipes for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy at the Madison Square MLCC on the theme of Christmas from around the world.  I did suggest local Golden Caviar as an option for the Latkes but, alas, it is no longer available in Canada.  It is all shipped to Europe and they won't make a local run as packaging costs too much.  

Bonnie Tulloch, of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, will be presenting on the different plants represented in the foods and Jody Twomey of the Manitoba Lotteries and Liquor will be presenting beverage pairings.  Enjoy!  Happy Holidays! 

1. Caramelized Shallot Tarts, a taste of Provence

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.

2. Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

Potato pancakes are served in Germany, Russia, many parts of Eastern Europe and Israel.  They can be found in Christmas markets and homes.

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)

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. Spanikoptia Triangles, served as bites for entertaining or “Lasagna style”.  A taste from Greece

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 tbs olive 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.

4. Toasted Panettone with Barolo Poached Pears

You can cook the pears the day before and re-heat them on Christmas Day.
Barolo wine (or a Piedmont wine such as Barbera) 400ml
lemon rind (unwaxed) 2 strips
orange rind (unwaxed) 2 strips
cloves 2
bay leaf 1
caster sugar 200g
ripe pears such as Williams - do not peel just wash, then cut in half 2
panettone 4 slices, to serve

Add all the ingredients, except the pears and panettone, and 180ml water to a pan that will hold the fruit. Bring slowly to the boil and stir to dissolve the sugar, then boil for 15 minutes. Lower the heat, add the pear halves, and simmer for about 30 minutes until the pears are tender – when you can pierce them easily with a knife. Keep the liquid for later. Chill the pears and re-heat in the liquid.
Toast 4 slices of panettone and place on four plates, add 1 piece of hot pear on top and ladle over a little hot poaching liquid. Optional:  Serve with mascarpone or ice cream.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Turkish Delights for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC

Tomorrow I will be presenting the following recipes for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC.  That is, with one exception but I'll put both recipes up.  I just couldn't get a hold of enough eggplant for two recipes.  I will be presenting the first recipe but instead of the Toenail of a Dog, I will make Pomegranate White Bean dip.  So easy to prepare and a big flavour for people expecting bland beans.   

Karen Lind, Education Coordinator from the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, presented on spices and plants of the different regions of Turkey and Jody Twomey, of the Manitoba Liquor Marts, presented lovely beverage pairings for each dish as well as a Welcome Cocktail of Cotton Candy Vodka, Frangelico and pomegranate seeds for a Turkish Delight in a Martini Glass.

1. Patliçan Yogürtlü
Paired with Ogio Prosecco DOC $16.82

1 lg eggplant sliced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 c plain yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt

Slice and salt eggplant and let sit in a bowl of cold water. If eggplant is very young, skip the step of salt and water. Rinse and squeeze out water from slices.

Mince garlic and stir into yoghurt with salt.

Sauté eggplant slices on medium high heat until golden brown on both sides. Remove from pan and let sit for a moment on a paper towel. Place on platter and top with yoghurt mixture. Sprinkle rubbed oregano and paprika over yoghurt. Top with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with baguette slices or water crackers.


2. Toenail of a dog - Köpeğoğlu

1 globe eggplant
1 red pepper
1 leek
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs olive oil
1/3 cup tahini
1 cup yoghurt
1 tbs dried oregano
Salt and pepper

Wash the eggplant and prick all over with a fork. Drizzle oil over eggplant, whole pepper and the white of the leek. Roast in a hot BBQ, turning occasionally. Remove eggplant when soft. Remove red pepper when blackened and leek when soft and caramelized. Cube eggplant with skin on. Peel blackened skin off of pepper and chop. Slice leek into thin rounds. Mix all ingredients together and chill until serving. Serve with French bread or a baguette.


2.1 Pomegranate White Bean Dip
Paired with Efes Pilsen Lager $2.73
2 cups cooked white navy beans (aka, canelini)
1/2 cup pomegranate juice (unsweetened) or a bit less pomegranate molasses (paste)
Pinch salt, to taste
minced garlic, optional

Purée ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Serve with breads.  Top with pomegranate seeds or paprika and/or olive oil.  Enjoy!

3. Pickerel with Raki
Paired with Tukulu Chenin Blanc $12.85
4 filets pickerel
2 tomatoes
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup (less) olive oil
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup fish stock
salt and white pepper, to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 bunch dill
2 tsp raki (Ouzo)

Heat skillet and sauté the garlic and add the onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add bay leaves. Add the vegetables, pour over the stock and simmer for 2 minutes

Season the fish with salt and pepper and place on top of the vegetables. Simmer for about 4 minutes. Chop the dill. Add lemon juice, chopped dill and raki and simmer for about 2 minutes. Arrange the fish and vegetables on a serving dish and serve immediately.

4. Turkish Pumpkin Dessert (Kabak Tatlısı)
Paired with Longboat Chocolate Porter $5.75 and Prado Alen Rice Pudding Liqueur $29.99 (Hot tip!! try both together!)
This pumpkin dessert is a very easy-to-make popular and traditional recipe.

pumpkin or butternut squash
4-5 cloves
crushed walnuts

The ratio of pumpkin to sugar is 1 to 1/2. I used 3 cups of squash and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Peel the pumpkin, cut it into big chunks, and put in a pot. Put sugar on and let it sit over night. It will release water, so you don't need to add water when you're cooking it. The next day, add 4-5 cloves in to the pot and cook on medium until the pumpkin is soft, approximately 30 minutes. Let it cool and garnish with walnuts or grated coconut.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tastes of around India for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC

 Last night I had the distinct pleasure of presenting the following recipes for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy at the Madison Square MLCC.  Education Coordinator, Bonnie Tulloch, presented on plants from the regions while Scott Strizic of the MLCC presented beverage pairings and the following welcoming beverage.

The Kerala Shrimp and the Aloo Gobi were served on Red Rice that had been parboiled.  It has a lovely nutty bulgur flavour and is available at Dino's Grocery Mart on Notre Dame in Winnipeg.  

The remaining pairings are coming asap.

Indian Spice Milk Punch
4l 2% milk
1 can coconut milk
1 can cream of coconut
1 lemon rind strip
1 star anise, whole
1 tsp whole cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
Amaretto Liqueur, optional

Bring first 8 ingredients to a gentle simmer over medium heat, stirring often.  Strain into heatproof pitcher.  Add Amaretto liqueur, 2 tbs per one cup just prior to serving.

1. 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.

2. Bengali Squash
4-5 small zucchini or yellow squash (I am also using winter squashes, peeled)
2 tbs mustard oil
2 tbs vegetable oil
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black mustard seeds, crushed
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp sugar
pinch salt

Slice zucchini or squash lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Heat the oils in a large wok or a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the turmeric, mustard, cayenne and sugar and fry for about 10 seconds. Add the zucchini and cook, turning and moving the slices for about 3-5 minutes until softened through but not mushy.

Remove the slices and drain of oil. Sprinkle with salt and toss. Serve hot. If any oil is remaining, reserve for reuse.


3, Aloo gobi
  • 2 cups of cut cauliflower (cut into small florets)
  • 2 medium potatoes (cubed into bite sized pieces)
  • 1/2 inch shredded ginger
  • 3 teaspoons coriander powder (dhania)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (haldi)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper ( lal mirch)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • Pinch of Asafetida (Hing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 2 green chilies, sliced in long pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon mango powder (amchoor)
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro (green coriander)
  • 1/4 cup water as needed
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped cashews
  1. In a small bowl, mix the shredded ginger, coriander powder, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and 3 tablespoons of water to make a paste.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan.
  3. Add hing and cumin seeds to the oil after seeds crack add the bay leaves and green chilies and stir for a few seconds.
  4. Next, add the spice paste and stir for a minute until spices start leaving the oil.
  5. Add cauliflower, potatoes, 2 tablespoons of water and salt. Mix well. Cover the pan and let it cook on medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Make sure to stir gently every 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Lastly, add the mango powder and fresh cilantro (green coriander). Mix everything and cover for a minute. Adjust the salt to your taste.
Add some green peas and/or sliced red bell peppers. The red bell peppers should be added at the end of the recipe as they cook quickly.
Making a paste with the spices will prevent the spices from burning.

4. Squash Halwa- Easy Diwali Sweet Recipe

  • Acorn Squash- 1
  • Milk- ¼ cup
  • Condensed milk- ½ can or 150 ml
  • Saffron, strands (optional)- ½ tsp strands soaked in 1 tbsp milk
  • Ghee- 4 tbsp
  • Roasted Almonds, whole or chopped- ¼ cup (roasted in ½ tbsp ghee)

  1. Peel the skin off the squash and dice it into medium size.
  2. In a non-stick cooking pan, cook the diced squash in water till it turns tender and well cooked.
  3. Drain the water from the cooked squash and put it back into the pan.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, mash the cooked squash without any lumps.
  5. Switch on the stove to medium heat and place the pan with the mashed squash over it.
  6. Add milk and combine well stirring constantly breaking any lumps present in it.
  7. Add the condensed milk to it and combine well stirring constantly.
  8. Pour 2 tbsp of ghee at this point and keep stirring.
  9. If you are adding saffron, add the soaked saffron to the mixture.
  10. Let it thicken and don’t forget to stir it.
  11. When the mixture is no more watery and has thickened, add 2 tbsp more of ghee.
  12. Keep stirring for a minute and remove from the heat.
  13. In a small pan, roast whole or chopped almonds in ½ tbsp ghee till it turns golden in color.
  14. Grease a platter with little ghee and spread the squash halwa onto the plate.
  15. Even out the halwa level using a flat spatula.
  16. Garnish the squash halwa with roasted almonds.
  17. Chill the halwa for an hour and serve.
You could tweak this recipe according to your needs.
You could adjust the sweetness, amount of ghee added accordingly.
Also add pistachios, raisins or other nuts for extra crunchiness.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Tempting Thai Treasures with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC

 Tomorrow I will be presenting the following recipes for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy at the Madison Square MLCC.  Please check the Leisure Guide to register for others.  Loads of fun.  Bran Adams, Education Coordinator at the Assiniboine Park Conservancy will lead the discussion on the plant life represented in the recipes and MLCC Product Consultant Jody will present beverage pairings.

Last week it was too hectic to take photos.  I hope that I can get some photos tomorrow.
1. Crab Rangoon
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 (6 ounce) can crabmeat, drained and flaked
2 green onions with tops, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
48 wonton wrappers

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Lightly spray baking sheet with cooking spray.

Combine garlic, cream cheese, crab, green onions, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce in a bowl. To prevent wonton skins from drying, prepare only 1 or 2 rangoon at a time. Place 1 teaspoon of filling onto the center of each wonton skin. Moisten the edges with water and fold the wonton skin diagonally to form a triangle, pressing edges to seal. Moisten one of the bottom corners. Create a crown by pulling both bottom corners together and sealing. Arrange the rangoon on the baking sheet and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

2. Salad wraps with peanut sauce
SERVES 4-6 as an appetizer
1 pkg. small, round rice wrappers (dried)
1 to 1 1/2 cups thin vermicelli rice noodles, cooked and run through with cold water, drained
3/4 to 1 cup cooked shrimp, OR 3/4 cup baked or fried tofu, or roasted chicken or turkey, cut into matchsticks
1-2 cups bean sprouts
½ cup fresh Thai basil or sweet basil, roughly chopped
½ cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped
¼ cup shredded carrot
3-4 spring onions, cut into matchstick pieces
2 Tbsp. soy sauce (or wheat-free soy sauce for gluten-free diets)
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 sauce (use black vinegar if vegetarian
1 tsp. brown sugar


½ cup water
½ tsp. tamarind paste
2 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce (or wheat-free soy sauce for gluten-free diets)
1 Tbsp. fish sauce OR vegetarian black vinegar
1 heaping tsp. arrowroot powder (or cornstarch) dissolved in 3 Tbsp. water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 green or red chili, finely sliced OR 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili or cayenne pepper

Peanut Dipping Sauce
2 tbs grated ginger
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
2 tablespoons Soya Sauce
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sweet miso
2 tablespoons mirin or sake
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (add more for spicier satay)

1.             Set rice wrappers aside. In a cup, stir together the soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce (if using) and sugar.
2.             Place all other ingredients for the fresh rolls in a large mixing bowl and drizzle the soy sauce mixture over. Toss to mix.
3.             Fill a large bowl with hot water (but not boiling, as you’ll be dipping your fingers into it). Start by submerging one wrapper into the water. It should soften after 30 seconds.
4.             Remove the wrapper and place on a clean surface. Add another wrapper to the hot water as you fill and roll the first one.
5.             Place a heaping tablespoon of roll ingredients toward the bottom of the wrapper. Spread out the ingredients horizontally (in the shape of a fresh roll).
6.             Fold the sides of the wrapper over the ingredients, then bring up the bottom. Tuck the bottom around the ingrdients and roll to the top of the wrapper.
7.             To serve, place your platter or bowl of rolls on the table along with the dipping sauce. Eat with your fingers and lots of napkins. Enjoy!

To make the Tamarind Dipping Sauce (optional): simply mix all dipping sauce ingredients together in a saucepan and heat.
When near boiling, reduce heat to low, stirring until sauce thickens.
Taste for saltiness, spiciness, and sweetness, adding more fish sauce (instead of salt), more sugar, or more chili as desired.
Note: the sauce can be served warm or cold. With fresh rolls, I personally prefer a warm sauce to contrast with the cool rolls)

3. Pork Satay

1 lb pork shoulder or butt in slices
2 tbs grated ginger
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
2 tablespoons Soya Sauce
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sweet miso
2 tablespoons mirin or sake
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (add more for spicier satay)

Mix ginger, water, peanut butter, soya sauce, vinegar, miso, mirin or sake and pepper flakes. Add vegetarian chicken strips. Let marinade in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Skewer and grill on the BBQ or sauté in a non-stick skillet. Enjoy as an appetizer, salad wrap or with rice or noodles.


* Traditional recipe for pork, chicken, or beef satay.

3. Thai Coconut Curry (serves 2-4)

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
½ tin “Lite” coconut milk
2-3 tbs yellow curry paste, to desired heat (yellow curry paste does not contain any shrimp)
1 tbs grated ginger
1 tbs grated lemon grass
1 tsp sugar (optional)
splash Mirin
3-5 Kefir Lime leaves
drizzle olive oil
salt, to taste

Mix the last 9 ingredients in a bowl and add chicken thighs. Marinate for a few hours. Place on a hot grill, turning for grill marks at two minutes, and flipping over at four minutes. Repeat for grill marks at the next two minutes.

Serving suggestion:  Place rested cooked chicken on a toasted or warmed flatbread such as naan or pita. Add favourite grilled vegetables and wrap up. Wrap again in foil and place in an insulated bag or enjoy cold.

* These ingredients can be found at most Asian specialty stores such as Sun Wah and Oriental Market on King St. or Young’s Market on William and on McPhilips.

For an elegant entrée presentation, try using a stem of fresh lemon grass as a skewer before grilling or frying.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Mediterranean tour of flavours for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC

 Tonight I have the pleasure of presenting the following sampling from around the Mediterranean for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC.  Bonnie Tulloch, Education Coordinator for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, will be presenting on the origins of the plant life represented here and TBA rep from the MLCC will be providing beverage pairings.  Photos to come after tonight's event.
I am presenting a dish from ancient Greece, Turkey, Italy and Spain.

1. Greek Fava Beans

Soak 2 cups large dried fava beans overnight.  Peel
1 chopped onion
olive oil
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper, to taste

Cook peeled fava beans until soft. Drain.  In a saucepan, heat up olive oil and cook chopped onion until soft and translucent.  Add beans and slowly cook over medium heat, stirring so as not to burn.  Add remaining ingredients.  Serve hot or cold.  Has a remarkable floral taste.  Serve with breads.

2. Patliçan Yogürtlü

1 lg eggplant sliced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 c plain yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt

Slice and salt eggplant and let sit in a bowl of cold water. If eggplant is very young, skip the step of salt and water. Rinse and squeeze out water from slices.

Mince garlic and stir into yoghurt with salt.

Sauté eggplant slices on medium high heat until golden brown on both sides. Remove from pan and let sit for a moment on a paper towel. Place on platter and top with yoghurt mixture. Sprinkle rubbed oregano and paprika over yoghurt. Top with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with baguette slices or water crackers.


3. Sage Butter pasta (Burro e salvia) (back by popular demand)

1/3 cup butter.
Bunch of fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup 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. Spanish Smoked Paprika Shrimp

1 lb peeled, wild caught shrimp
1 tbs butter
Drizzle olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
Pinch sea salt

Heat butter and oil in sauté pan. Add shrimp and toss well. Add garlic and then paprika. Serve with bread when shrimp is firm and pink.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Wedding Celebrations! Vegan

I'm so excited and honoured to be catering a dear friend's wedding reception this week.  It will be all vegan but, unless they are reading this blog, they likely won't notice the lack of meat and dairy.

The weather was perfect for a lovely garden party wedding reception. 

Vegetable Samosas with Imli sauce
Roasted yellow pepper hummus, Rabat Eggplant, Turkish pomegranate white bean dip and Greek Fava Beans with Afghani Naan platters
Assorted mushrooms paté with truffles
Stuffed Grape Leaves
Almond stuffed fresh dates with tahini honey sauce (yes, honey was approved :))
Belgian Endive with Pomegranate Walnut Paste
Halvah (plain and pistachio)
Moroccan Charoset
Three-tiered Turkish style fruit trays with candles and caramelized sugar

Tea Station with Moroccan Mint and Turkish samovar with saffron sugar, brown sugar cubes and cherry jam (Russian Style)
Manitoba Punch with Solberry

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Arctic Char with Sorrel Pesto and Pumpkin Leaf Thoren on CBC's Weekend Morning Show

This morning I will be presenting the following on CBC's Weekend Morning Show with guest host Laurie Hoogstraten.  Gorgeous Arctic Char is available year round at Gimli Fish.  It is consistently a beautiful product.

The Bean or Pumpkin Leaf Thoren is a Kerala, South India recipe.  I used a mix of tender zucchini leaves and stems, squash and pumpkin leaves as well.  I'm thinking of trying these leaves in a Tajine dish substituting for Swiss Chard, although, that is healthy in the garden now as well. 

Arctic Char with Sorrel Pesto

2 handfuls fresh sorrel (gorgeous perennial available to plan from Sage Garden Herbs)
1 handful basil
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
1 garlic clove
juice of one lemon (optional, I left it out as the sorrel is very lemony)
1/4 cup good olive oil
black pepper

Arctic Char
2 tbs olive oil
1 fillet of Arctic Char (available fresh and local from Gimli Fish)
pinch sea salt
good pinch black pepper

1. Purée the pesto ingredients in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle. 
2. Heat olive oil in large pan over medium-high heat.  Season the fish and add it, skin side down for a few minutes (maximum 5).  Turn fish and cook for a few minutes more, depending on thickness of fish.  Remove fish from heat, plate and spoon pesto over. 

OR  Spoon a generous amount of the sorrel pesto over the uncooked Arctic Char and grill, on one side of a very hot BBQ until done or bake at 400º for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.


OR  Mix Sorrel Pesto with sour cream and spoon over cooked Arctic Char when plating.

Bean Leaf or Pumpkin Leaf Thoren

3 cups finely shredded bean or pumpkin leaves (use the youngest leaves and stems)
1 dried chili
1 pinch cumin seeds
2 shallots (or half of red onion)
1 cup grated coconut (unsweetened  A good one is available at Dino's Grocery Mart)
1 tbs oil (olive or canola, I often add a drizzle of good coconut oil on later for flavour and health)
2 tsp rice
2 tbs chopped onion
1 dry chili, broken
salt, to taste

1. Grind the chilli, cumin seeds and shallots together, coarsely.  Crush in the grated coconut.  Mix all together.
2. Fry mustard and rice in hot oil.  Add onion and chili pieces and sauté.  Add the ground ingredients and fry a little while.  Then add the greens and cook, with a little water and the salt until the water is all evaporated.  Medium heat.


There are health benefits associated with bean and pumpkin leaves for anti-inflammatory benefits as well as benefiting people living with diabetes as it helps to regulate the blood sugars.  Squash and beans would have been grown, as part of the three sisters or three aunties for excellent permaculture for soil nutrition as well as for the benefits of eating.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Almond Stuffed Dates, Baba Ghanoush and Grilled Pineapple Salsa on CBC's Weekend Morning Show!

This morning I had the pleasure of presenting three dishes on CBC's Weekend Morning Show with guest host, Ismaila Alfa.  The first, traditionally to break fast at Ramadan, was stuffed Dates.

Beautiful Stuffed dates are available now at Herat Foods on Pembina and Halal Meats and Specialty Foods on Maryland.

They are so simple to prepare:

Blanch almonds if they have the skin on and peel the skin off.  Poke out the pit of the date, stuff with 1-2 blanched almonds.  Serve.  Optional to drizzle a bit of tahini mixed with honey over the dates.

Baba Ghanoush

1 globe eggplant, pricked and baked until very soft
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tahini (really good tahini at Herat Foods on Pembina)
juice of one lime
salt, to taste
1/4 cup yoghurt

Puree all ingredients in food processor or blender.  It will seem very loose.  Refrigerate.  Serve with olives, harissa, olive oil, etc.  Enjoy!

 Grilled Pineapple Salsa

1 pineapple, cored then grilled, then chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, roasted whole over grill then chopped
1 ear corn, roasted or 1 cup pan fried
1/2 cup cooked black beans
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground chipotle peppers
1/2 cup chopped or pureed tomatoes
salt, to taste
2 tbs brown sugar
2-4 tbs vinegar
drizzle olive oil
3 tbs fresh chopped mint

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Refrigerate and enjoy with tortillas or in your favourite dish.  Try with fish tacos.  Excellent local corn tortillas are available at Dino's Grocery Mart on Notre Dame.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

On Sunday I had the pleasure of presenting Picnic Lunches for CBC's Weekend Morning Show with guest host Agatha Moir.  The Crab and Lobster salad is so easy to prepare with the excellent products from Gimli Fish.  I also prepared a seared wild caught tuna sandwich.  So simple and creates such a lovely picnic or for anytime in Summer.

Crab and Lobster salad with wontons

1 cup crab meat (Available at Gimli Fish)
1 cup lobster meat (also available at Gimli Fish)
6-10 peeled and chopped fresh water chestnuts (available at Sun Wah) * if not available, use Asian pears and NOT tinned water chestnuts
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.   Please note, you can make the wontons into any shape.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chive Pesto and how wonderful to grow them!

Chives!  These are the most OMG plant in my garden right now.  First of all, they are low maintenance in being perennials.  Second, I've never found a weed around them.  Third, and not in order of actual importance, there are reports now of fantastic health benefits from Chives.

Chive Pesto is my new favourite pesto.  I am actually mad about pesto from basil, cilantro, pea shoot, arugula, etc.  Chive is now on the top of the list.

Chive Pesto
1 cup roughly chopped chives
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup grated parmesan reggiano or padano
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 + cup good olive oil
pinch salt, to taste

Grind up all ingredients to a paste.  Enjoy as a pesto, as an ingredient, as a sandwich spread, etc.  In pasta, try with chopped tomatoes to bring out the sweetness of the chives.


Saturday, June 01, 2013

Steaks with compound butter 3 ways on CBC's Weekend Morning Show

 This morning I had the pleasure of presenting the following 3 compound butters on strip loin steaks for CBC's Weekend Morning Show with host Ismaila Alfa. 

Grill steaks to your desired doneness, recommending rare but...  :)

To be put on grilled steaks as resting.

1. Roasted Red Pepper Saffron Butter

1 cup softened butter
1 roasted red pepper
2 good pinches Saffron
1 pinch salt

Skin and seed roasted pepper. Blend together chopped pepper, butter, saffron and a pinch of salt. Drop onto a sheet of plastic wrap or waxed paper and shape into a roll. Chill until firm.

For other prepared butters, try ripe mango, butter, lime and jalapeño flakes. Try flavours that you enjoy together or ripe locally grown fruit.

2. Chive Pesto Butter
1 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup + good olive oil

Mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Mix with butter as with previous compound butters. 
Can use basil pesto, arugula pesto, etc.

3. Squash Butter (apple butter)
Mix apple butter preserve with softened butter. 

*I'm likely going to add some Ras el Hanout as well to this one.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

CBC's Weekend Morning Show - Arctic Char 2 ways and mushrooms!

 This morning I had the pleasure of presenting the following recipes on CBC's Weekend Morning Show with guest host, Joff Schmidt.  The gorgeous Arctic Char is available at Gimli Fish.  Perfect for grilling, baking or broiling.  It is sourced so close to Winnipeg, it is very, very local.  If you had the Pea Shoot Pesto Arctic Char at Arkadash Bistro and Lounge, this is the fish.

Honey Miso Grilled Arctic Char

1 inch fresh ginger, minced
3 tbs miso
1 green onion, finely chopped
3 tbs honey
3 tbs Mirin
a drizzle of chili oil
1 fillet Arctic Char

Combine first 6 ingredients until well blended. Smooth over fish and let marinade for at least one hour. Grill, broil or sauté  until begins to flake, about 4-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Serve immediately.

Arctic Char Crudo
1. Cure the fish overnight in the following:

1 fillet Arctic Char
½ cup sugar
2-3 tbs sea salt
pepper, and assorted herbs (today I used saffron, thyme and Fennel pollen)

2. Rinse fish in cold water and slice thinly with the following vinaigrette. 

Orange Vinaigrette
Juice of half an orange
2 tbs vinegar
pinch sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
Optional herbs (saffron, thyme, oregano, etc.)
Optional garlic

Whisk vinaigrette and serve over thin slices of cured Arctic Char.  Serve with crumbled hard boiled egg, thinly sliced chives or green onions and or arugula.

Korean Mushrooms in Foil

This is actually a very traditional recipe.  So simple to do on the BBQ as a side dish.  

Sesame oil (optional)
sea salt
white pepper (optional)

Wrap the mushrooms and seasoning in the foil.  Place over coals or the grill for several minutes, turning every so often until done.  Serve with Korean dipping sauces such as Kochujiang.


I'm really mad about mushrooms.  Ours are grown very locally.