Archive for the ‘Menus’ Category

For New Year’s Eve, we did something really special, we purchased a high-end restaurant dinner kit from Chotto Matte, Toronto. The difference between a dinner kit and takeout is that you cook the kit at home instead of bringing home pre-cooked food; the kit provides all of the ingredients and instruction! We loved this idea for two reasons, we love Chotto Matte (had dinner there two years ago in London, England) and two, what a great way to spread out dinner on New Year’s Eve! We usually have friends over but of course, this year we were not able to because of Covid so we made our own exciting evening. I set up a photo area and mounted my phone on a tripod; I had pre-selected the plates each dish would be served in.

We began the evening with some tasty Sautéd Shisito Peppers. Now if you’ve never had Shisito peppers you’re in for a treat, just a little word of warning that although 90% of the peppers are sweet, there is the odd one that is super hot.

Each course was cooked and served in about 30-40 minute intervals to help spread the evening out. The choclo corn was an interesting dish; it is almost five time larger than North American corn but is creamy on the inside. Choclo corn is also referred to as Peruvian Corn or Giant Corn, they are super large kernels with a similar texture to that of Lupini beans with the exception that you can eat the skin. We cooked the kernels for 3 minutes in a small amount of water and then added the rocoto butter and cilantro provided. To say this was a spicy hot dish is an understatement. But it was tasty. Next time I don’t think I’ll put all of the rocoto butter in so it’s not nearly as spicy hot.

The first main we had was the Pollo Picante. The chicken was perfectly done, with a beautiful texture served on green causa which seems to be some type of potato. It had a strange texture and I wasn’t keen on the flavour (very starchy) but the chicken was lovely.

We had the black cod next, which was my favourite dish. Unfortunately the presentation wasn’t the greatest because the instructions had us remove the bones (there were no bones) after cooking and the fish just fell apart. It was lovely.

The final course was the Asado de Tira, a slow-cooked barbeque beef which was reheated in its plastic pouch in simmering water. The beef was very tender and presented more like a pulled beef (unfortunately, I completely forgot to photograph it). The purple potato was very interesting in that it presented as dark purple, unfortunately, it didn’t contrast much to the beef so you can’t see it even in the professional photos.

I loved everything about this meal kit, it was beautifully boxed and labelled and I loved all the little sauces in the super cute containers. The meal was a complete success. I wish more restaurants would prepare these kits for takeaway as I find high-end food doesn’t travel well as takeout, plus I really like the cooking part.

Disclaimer: We purchased this meal kit for full-price and my opinion is just that, my opinion.

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Recently we opened our cottage for the summer. It was a busy weekend made even busier by someone’s hair-brained idea to redecorate (paint the wood paneling, new flooring, update kitchen upper cupboards, etc)! And that doesn’t stop me from complicating things by making an entire menu for the weekend home-made.
I’ve mentioned that our cottage is remote, so everything has to be brought in because even a 45 minute trip to the closest largest city doesn’t guarantee that one can find what one is looking for. So preparing a Menu Plan is essential as is the List of what needs to be brought up to execute said Menu Plan.
The list is key, here’s how I organize the list:
Menu Plan, Shopping List; things to be brought from home: the Pantry, the Freezer and the Refrigerator. As we pack for the weekend, things get checked off The List. The Menu Plan is followed to a T. If I bring four eggs, it means I’ll use four eggs. The trick is to end up with less than what we came up with, which usually works well. The Menu Plan also allows for left overs to be utilized in some sort of wrap for our return drive home, guaranteeing a healthier lunch than the truck stops on the road. Over the last twenty years I’ve only forgotten one thing and that was before The List was implemented, we were young and lived dangerously. If you’d like to download my template, feel free to use this one May 24 2013 Cottage Menu. The other essential thing is the running list once we get to the cottage — things that need to be brought the next time (toilet paper, paper towel, hand soap etc, you get the picture!)
JTs sister uses my FIL’s cottage about 15 metres (50 feet) from our place, so we generally get together at least once for cocktails during the weekend. I usually make something for cocktails because I like to cook! I came up with the idea of spinach and feta tartlets using my friend Zsuzsa’s cottage cheese pastry after seeing Sawsan’s post of Fatayer. They can be baked and then reheated to serve. I like them because they are full of flavour and small (portion control or eat them ALL!). This recipe makes 36 mini tarts using mini muffin tins with lots of pastry left over which can be frozen for future use. My lovely niece Laura (soon to be a full-fledged Lawyer) made Spanakopita, a delicious Weight Watchers recipe…great minds! This recipe isn’t for the dieter even though the serving is small, there is a lot of butter in the pastry. An alternative to the buttery pastry would be using wonton shells like my lovely friend Sissi has done here!

Spanakopita Tartlets

A single bite portion packing great flavours

A single bite portion packing great flavours

Makes 36 mini 2.5 cm or 1″ tarts


  • 1/3 Zsuzsa’s cottage cheese pastry dough
  • 200 g (7 oz) baby spinach
  • 50 g (2 oz) finely chopped sweet onion
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp dill weed100 g (3.5 oz) crumbled Greek Feta


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. Sweat the onions until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and sauté until you can smell its aroma, add the spinach and cook down until spinach has wilted.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  5. Add to a food processor and pulse a few times, you don’t want paste, just smaller bits.
  6. Add the oregano, dill and the crumbled Greek Feta and stir well.
  7. Roll the dough to about 2mm (a hair more than 1/8th inch) thick and cut with a 5 cm (2 inch) scalloped cookie cutter.
  8. Press each round into the bottom of an ungreased mini muffin tin.
  9. Fill with about 1 tbsp of the spinach filling.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until pastry is golden. Serve warm. Can be frozen and reheated for 10-12 minutes at 350F.
The pastry is crisp on the outside and soft and tender on the inside.

The pastry is crisp on the outside and soft and tender on the inside.

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I just noticed that WordPress is adding advertising into my content in links which are not mine. How to tell the difference is that my links have a dotted underline and the ad links are solid and dotted together. Not cool at all.

Last week I was blown-away flattered by my Hungarian friend Zsuzsa (Zsuzsa is in the kitchen) when she invited me to participate in a blogging event to post your Easter Menu! You can read about Zsuzsa’s Easter here; she grew up very close to where my Mom grew up in Budapest. It’s really just a round up of past post recipes and a little bit about your Easter memories. How could I say no?  Thank you Zsuzsa, I would be honoured. Zsuzsa is taking part with the following Hungarian ladies: The author of this event, Éva from Takarekos Konyha (this blog is in Hungarian) and Elizabeth from Food and Thrift.

Growing up, Easter was always about bunnies for me. Yes, we went to church and all that but let’s be honest, it was about the bunnies! At eight years old, my very first pet bunny was an albino Dutch whom we called Boom Boom (he was called Boom Boom because he stomped his hind feet loudly). Sadly good old Boom Boom only lasted 3 years, but he made such an impression on me that I’ve only ever had bunnies as pets! I cried so much when he died that my Dad swore he would never let me have another pet because losing them made me too sad and he just couldn’t bear it. I was sixteen before I was permitted to have Boon, another albino Dutch but smaller than Boom Boom (no, we weren’t very imaginative with the names!). But I digress, back to Easter.

Mom and Dad in Edmonton with the Chrysler Tour in 1960

Mom and Dad in Edmonton with the Chrysler Tour in 1960

You already know that my Dad was a Puppeteer (and if you don’t, you can read about it here) and we had a family business with the puppet shows. Easter was a big time for us, these holidays meant that the malls, schools (note that this link is NOT mine) and some companies needed entertainment for their events and what’s not to like about a puppet show? So many of our Easters were on the road with the show. In fact, Boom Boom was first adopted because my Dad needed a live bunny for the show (he was the star, don’t worry, it was all very humane).

Believe it or not, the Show was about Bunnies.

Believe it or not, the Show was about Bunnies.


And there were singing Eggs too

But Easter also had a serious side: FOOD! Chocolates, coloured eggs and of course, ham. I don’t have many of the recipes that we had at Easter but I’ve gathered a bunch I am going to have this weekend when we have JTs family for Easter Sunday lunch. I hope you enjoy them.

My Mom only used Canada Grade A Large size eggs

My Mom only used Canada Grade A Large size eggs

Hors D’œuvres were usually Deviled Eggs (here and here) and French Salad (Francia Saláta). I don’t have a post about Francia Saláta, but you can see Zsuzsa’s recipe here (my Mom never put potatoes in her version). I may do a new hors d’œuvres recipe I saw on my friend Lorraine’s blog of her recent trip to Amman, Jordan. It involves cheese and phyllo pastry, that’s all I can give you!

A wonderful addition to any Easter table

A wonderful addition to any Easter table

We usually had an Easter kalács (Zsuzsa made a gorgeous one here) but I’m making John’s Easter Cheese Bread instead.

The most succulent tenderloin ever

The most succulent tenderloin ever

We’ve decided to go nontraditional and have a beef tenderloin for lunch. This recipe is my favourite way to serve this special cut of meat.

The only place you'll miss the potatoes is on your waist-line!

The only place you’ll miss the potatoes is on your waist-line!

I’m going to serve it with my traditional Celeriac Cauliflower Mash. And a wonderful lemony Asparagus from my friend Greg’s Rufus’ Guide.

It's a symphony of colours

It’s a symphony of colours

And a little tangy German Purple Cabbage Slaw.

Now if you had any room for dessert, I’m going to make Charle’s Sweedish Apple Cake (from Five Euro Food), which totally looks like the perfect ending to a rich and heavy meal. It’s really just all apples and then there’s more apples. The only flour in this is the use of the breadcrumbs as the base, thickener and likely adds a little texture. I love that I can make it sugar free too, since I have a diabetic and a hypo-glycemic in the house — I like to make only one dessert that everyone can enjoy and not make the person feel odd that they have something else.

I may not be able to comment on your blogs for the next few days but I’ll definitely read up when I get back into civilization with internet. Thank you for reading my blog and leaving comments, you really, really make my day. Thank you to every one of the blogs I read, you provide me with the inspiration for my blog and it really wouldn’t be the same without you!

Happy Easter to All!

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Dinner Party Menu: India

The other day my new friend Trang nominated me for the Liebster award. Thank you Trang.


You must be getting a sense that we love themed dinner parties. I love everything about it, researching the food, experimenting, cooking and decorating. We had the “King and Queen” 😉 of themed dinner parties over for dinner recently (remember Titanic Anniversary Dinner and Truman Capotes Black and White?) and as one of only two couples from our group who love Indian food as much as we do, we decided to have Indian night. All the food is home-made, of course, but don’t worry, I didn’t spend all day in the kitchen; what’s great about Indian food is that it’s down-to-earth home-cooking at its best and stews are often better tasting the second day, so I was able to prepare much of the feast in advance. This post will show the menu and the photos but the recipes will come one by one, so that I can find them in the future.

This was staged, we actually had A LOT more food than that!

Hors D’œuvres:

  • Baked Onion Bhajis — I’m excited about this recipe because I did a little experiment and figured out a way to bake them instead of deep frying them and they worked out GREAT!
  • Appetizer: Mulligatawny Soup — I prepared this soup similarly to the link to my original recipe, except that I omitted the proteins as the rest of the meal is rather heavy and I didn’t want to be full after the first course! I also puréed about 1/4 of the soup so that the broth is thicker and creamier, but left the majority as chunks.


  • Paneer Makhani — this is a rich and delicious tomato gravy with home made unripened, pressed cheese. I used this Makhani recipe but I had to add about 2 tbsp Agave Nectar as the tomatoes were extremely acidic. I suspect that this acidity would be reduced if I had used full cream and butter of the original recipe, but then that wouldn’t be me, would it now?
  • Beef Bhuna — a tasty beef stew with a deliciously flavourful gravy
  • Basmiti Rice
  • Aloo Papri Chaat — a very flavourful and texture filled cold side dish with a yogurt sauce and chick peas


  • Carrot Pickle — a lightly spicy, crunchy pickle to cleans the palate
  • Mango Chutney — I wanted a mango chutney that wasn’t full of sugar


  • Naan — a delicious chewy Indian bread, baked on the outside of their tandoori ovens, stay tune for my experiment!


  • Light Lemon Mousse — this is where I skipped Indian and went straight to light and satisfying. I checked with our guests and similar to our tastes they find Indian desserts a little too sweet so I improvised. Plus I wanted to use the gorgeous little cups we bought our yogurt in while in Paris.

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I released the polenta squares too early! So annoyed with myself so I thought I’d follow it up with some more tapas. I wrote this post before our trip thinking that I’ll be swamped and jet-lagged when we get back, so glad I did because I so am all of the above. Work is nice and busy, I got a great little freelance job in and I’m ready for bed at 8pm most nights! I’m not complaining, just giving you the lay of the land.
I had mentioned that I love tapas dinner parties, so the Sunday before our holiday we had friends Rae and Monica over for a simplified tapas dinner party; their two youngest girls went to a concert close by and they needed to kill a few hours, so we said, come on over! We didn’t have a lot of time, so I had to abbreviate the standard 3×4 courses, so we only had 4×1 courses in total. It was plenty of food. In fact, I had to forgo one of the planned courses; fortunately tapas are make as you go so nothing went to waste, we just had it for dinner later in the week.

I’m also trying Instagram on my iPhone 4Gs, not quite as nice as the Canon, but pretty close. It really does better during the daylight as opposed to night. I never use the flash, mainly because my 3Gs never had one, so I really don’t miss it. What do you think?

Abbreviated Tapas Dinner Party

Sawsans Flat Bread with Tapenade and John’s home made Ricotta

Because you fold the tapenade and ricotta into the dough, it makes it flavourful throughout

Chilled cucumber shooters with greek yogurt. I made the soup with vegetable stock as we had a vegetarian in our midst.

Very tasty little shots

Sizzling garlic Shrimp with cilantro and lemon with home made spelt fajita shells

I thought I made too much food…not

Gluten-free Honey Ginger Cake with fresh figs, candied ginger slices and edible rose petals

No one was gluten-free, but I had some left over cake from the previous night

Lyon and Paris also had to be broken down into two parts, too much stuff to talk about, you’ll see why. I’ll need a vacation from my vacation!

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Cottage Closing 2012

This post was written and photographed entirely on my brand new iPhone 4s. I decided not to wait for the new iPhone 5 because they removed Google Maps from the Apps and the connector changed.

Cottage closing is always a sad time; it means no more cocktails at the lake or dinners by the water but then again it also means that I don’t have to plan, scramble and improvise meals when I’ve forgotten a key ingredient. At least for another year!

Many of you have asked for photos of the cabin and I’ve been reluctant because I’m sure you have grand images in your imaginations of our humble little cabin and I didn’t want to expose the real deal spoil the fantasy. It’s tiny size is what I love about the cabin; a full throttle cleaning takes two of us an hour which is perfect because when I’m at the lake, cleaning is the LAST thing I want to do.

I thought I’d share photos now because next year I’ve roped in Ceement Boy to help me redecorate! We’re ripping out the carpeting replacing it with laminate wood flooring, white washing the walls and updating the kitchen a bit! I’m very excited about it. I’m figuring on 2-4 days with all that brawn to help me. And a 2-4 of beer of course! (for him, not me). I’ll stick to my Martinis!


It’s all one room, open concept living


We just got the slider replaced with a half French Door.


The kitchen is a cheap white kitchen with melamine counters. This will get updated next year.


The windows will also be replaced next year. The guest room had all our crap in it, so I didn’t take any photos. But it’s there if you’d like to come up one weekend. You bring the booze!


We had the decking replaced this spring.


Because it’s the apartment above the boat garage, we are right on top of the water.

Here’s the menu from the weekend and a few pics (with my iPhone 4s!!!!) to bring it back to the purpose of the blog. Enjoy.

Dinner: Waldorf Chicken Wraps (we had these in the car whilst driving up)

Breakfast: date bran muffins, poached egg and half a grapefruit, coffee
Lunch: adult grilled cheese and a salad of arugula, spinach, avocado, cucumber and mini tomatoes


The cheese gets all melty and gooey!


That’s old orange cheddar and Gruyère oozing out. A nice hot salsa would have been great with this sandwich, but someone forgot to bring it up.


We took a walk along the road to build our appetites for cocktails (do you really need to do that, come on!)

Cocktails: grilled scallops on sesame bread with a smear of avocado paste with Martinis. Sawsan‘s sesame bread recipe click here.


The scallops were perfectly grilled, and pair beautifully with the avocado paste

Dinner: deconstructed Caesar salad
With financiers for dessert (post coming soon)


I’m still getting a lot of miles out of Roland’s deconstructed Caesar salad. Wish I hadn’t forgotten the anchovies.

The last sunset for the year. I’m sure the sun will set without us, but it just won’t be the same.

Breakfast: Cheese Omelet Crêpe with Cantaloup and Date Bran Muffin.


We had a wonderful paddle-boat ride on the lake before breakfast, coffee in hand.

Lunch: Tuna salad wrap, cantaloup squares and celery sticks to eat in the car on the way back to the city.

We’ll likely go out for dinner as I didn’t take anything out of the freezer. Lunch for tomorrow will be a challenge.

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Saturday was our 26th wedding anniversary; what’s even scarier is the other number, the number of years together! I won’t even bother to say it, you wouldn’t believe me anyway! I’m really not that old, really. No really!!!!
This past weekend was also very special because it was Canada’s first ‘summer’ long weekend: the May ‘2-4’, also known as Queen Victoria’s birthday; it is a national holiday in Canada (I don’t think it even ranks in the UK!) it is the first weekend of cottage season for most and JT and I are fortunate to be in this crowd. The drive up north could be treacherous, the normal 3.5 hours could take in excess of 4 or 5 hours with the traffic, but we planned to leave early on Saturday so we beat it.
Our cottage is remote; it was remote in the late 1800’s when JT’s grandfather purchased the land (it took him three days to get there using three forms of transport: train, horse and buggy and finally a row boat), and it’s still remote; no fancy grocery stores, one has to plan everything — everything. There are three family cottages on the land (100+ acres); JT’s sister, known as Sid (because her iPhone always auto corrects ‘Sis’), used to occupy the old log cabin, they renovated about 20 years ago but they prefer something less rustic than the electric toilet (don’t ask) as they are now using the main cottage that used to be JT’s parents place (Dad is just too frail to come up). We use the boathouse, a small 400 square foot place, two bedrooms. It’s small enough to clean top to toe in an hour and it’s large enough to have our closest friends over. But the absolute best (the best Jerry, the Best) part is the porch—it’s right on the water, we overlook the Bay and it’s perfect.
Part of the menu planning is having little munches for cocktails, and I couldn’t help but want to make my friend Charles’ (Five Euro Food) and Jessica’s (kitchenbelleicious) Roasted Chick Peas and of course, my friend Barb’s (Profiteroles and Ponytails’ version), and there was also Betsy (Bits and Breadcrumbs who also did a take on them! Absolutely wonderful, although because we did not use the allotted oil, we had to roast a wee bit longer, but well worth it. I really liked the texture, JT was so so! I may have lied, I didn’t make them! JT made them whilst I was at the salon getting my roots hair done! We had them for cocktails on Sunday night. Very tasty indeed. Plus they are a protein and we reduced the oil a bit to limit the fat. Still calories but at least they are good calories! Because they are a protein, they will fill you up a lot faster than potato chips, which is fine by me! I changed up the flavouring since Sid doesn’t eat too hot foods (also added a touch of sugar to help calm the heat)

Crunchy and just slightly hot, perfect with that martini. May I get you one?

Roasted Garlic Cumin Chick Peas


  • 1 large can of Chick Peas (~500g)
  • A quick spray of non stick spray
  • 2-3 tsps Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp light brown sugar
  • A handful of garlic cloves, minced finely


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Add all the spices to the drained and dried chick peas. Mix well.
  3. Give the pan a good spray and lay the chick peas out to an even layer.
  4. As Charles so eloquently put it: roast for about an hour until the peas are shrunken and crispy, and a rich golden brown in colour. We found that because we did not add the oil, we had to roast for about 1.5 hours to get them crispy. And we even let them sit in the oven as the oven cooled down (tasting throughout, of course, the insides had to crisp up)
  5. Allow to cool and enjoy with your flavourite cocktail (our’s was the traditional Vodka Martini, stirred, not shaken!)
  6. Cheers!

I know you want to just dig in, but it’s so much more civilized with that wonderful wooden scoop!

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As I’ve previously mentioned, our friends Rae and Monica are coming over for a Valentine’s themed dinner. Rae recently became a vegetarian so in order to save myself some time, I am planning to serve only vegetarian food for everyone (he eats seafood); plus it will not alienate him from the rest of the dinner party. I find this type of cooking a challenge and really enjoy doing it! Much of the menu is inspired by the blogs I read, so I thank you for the inspiration. I have linked where appropriate.


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Hi there, I’ve updated with a couple of new photos, hope you don’t mind.

Well, tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday. This meant nothing to me in the past other than an annoyance because 60 minutes was cancelled; we would go on about our usual weekend, JT would watch a little bit of the game here and there or keep track of it on his iPhone. We would tune into the half-time show from time to time.

A couple of years ago I suggested we watch the game and make Super Bowl Food; JT loved the idea, and we’ve been doing it ever since. Tomorrow we’re having my friend Kim, her kid CoCo, and my nephew Brian for a big Super Bowl Feast. It really just gives me an excuse to cook, you know how I love to feed people! I was trying to tip my menu toward food served in the cities of the two competing teams (I bet you’re a bit surprised I even know who they are!) New England Patriots and the New York Giants (and no, I did not google it! :-P), so I just renamed the recipe titles. I can do that, you know.

The menu:

New England Bacon-wrapped scallops and bacon wrapped dates

Bacon, bacon, bacon....

Cheer’s Healthy Nachos with a cheddar cheese sauce and salsa

A home-made tomato salsa with a cheddar cheese sauce. Can you say YUM?

Manhattan Honey Garlic Wings and Boston Rubbed Ribs (I’m doing a chai-inspired dry rub)

New York Lees 19 Ingredient Slaw (actually, the first time we had this slaw was in Manhattan; sadly his restaurant failed and he’s back in TO)

It's crunchy, sweet, sour and salty. What more could you ask for?

New York Style Chocolate Cheesecake with a Cherry Pie Topping

You have to finish your dinner first....OH!

I’ll be posting the recipes as I make them in the next day or so. I know, I’m a bit behind the band wagon, but perhaps you’ll book mark it for next year.

Jed, over at Sports Glutton and Greg at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide have an amazing selection of recipes to peruse for your Super Bowl Extravaganza! Have a great weekend.

Hope the good guys win!

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It’s Thanksgiving in Canada, and we made our yearly treck to my brother’s cottage. It should only be a little over a two hour drive, but as the years move on it’s gotten worse and worse. Over three hours!
We stopped to a world famous burger joint on Hwy 11, called Webers. I’ve never been. JT and I shared a burger and fries.

Click here for photo source.
To be honest, it’s not the best burger I’ve ever had! Which is surprising because there is a lot of hype around it. It was nice to stretch our legs and eat it at a picnic table outside. This a good segway to the incredible weather we’re having…26C! Two years ago it snowed!
Here is a photo from 2009.

We’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving with my brother since our Mom passed away six years ago; it’s always a little crazy (2 kids and a giant dog) and this year is no different!
BTW, last night, we polished off most of the donkey ear cookies, cheese sticks and Tuppkaka!
JT and I usually take care of one dinner and one breakfast! JT made his famous Boeuff Bourgignon, I made dumplings, and we had the Tuppkaka for dessert.

This morning we are having Flower Power Eggs from Donna’s Tasty Kitchen and Croissants (tomorrow’s post).


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Dinner with Pete and Karen

Pete is an old friend from way, way back; JT has worked with him over the years (that’s how we got to know him). We’ve gotten together sporadically over the years. Pete recently got engaged! And then he had a heart attack. It just got us thinking how precious and short life is. We had them over for a gourmet, but health conscious dinner. Now I usually cook on the healthy side anyway (butter only where it really adds bang for the buck, I trade cream in for Carnation or flavour such as spices etc.) but I am being super careful with this one. I will link recipes where I can, and post them separately if I haven’t already (it’s easier to search that way).

The Deconstructed Caesar Salad

  1. Hors d’oevres: Spanakopita
  2. Appetizers: Chilled cucumber soup (small portion) and the famous Deconstructed Caesar Salad
  3. Pork Medallions with a ‘creamy’ mushroom velouté on cauliflower and celeriac ‘mash’
  4. Chocolate three ways: Mexican Chocolate Brownie, Chocolate Banana Avocado Ice Cream and a Chocolate Dipped Fresh Fig
Of course, it’s also about portion control, and the portions I plan to serve are not going to be huge; the dessert will be three small tasters, just enough to make you want more. I want this dinner to be satisfying and delicious but not heavy and filling.

I had hoped to post recipes at this time, but my Canon EOS USB cable died, so it will have to wait until I replace it.

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It’s my birthday on Friday and JT bought tickets to see Steely Dan at Ontario Place’s Amphitheater. I am very much looking forward to it. My pre-birthday dinner is Thursday night at Bar Mercurio – my new Italian favourite! We’ll probably go to La Societé for the actual birthday dinner (yes, I like to stretch it out as much as possible)
We’re having our good friends Rae and Monica to the house for a city weekend. They usually come up to the cottage sometime in the summer, but we are not happy with the condition of the porch this year (handyman still needs to get to it) and Rae and Monica’s eldest daughter is off at university in Guelph, so they are more comfortable being an hour away instead of three with two younger one’s still at home! Hence the Bloor West Village weekend! They arrive around 11 on Saturday and we plan to head up to Bloor to Bloom for lunch. It’s Summerlicious so we can get three courses for $20. We’ll probably have a cocktail or two before we go ;-).

Here is the menu for the weekend. I will post the recipes of the courses I have not previously posted in their own post so they are easier to find.

Saturday Dinner

Roasted Red Pepper and feta
Deconstructed Grilled Caesar Salad (I have borrowed this recipe from my Muskoka host Roland. He made a grilled Caesar that was to die for, so I had to include it)
Chilled Avocado Soup with Cilantro oil
Ribs and Moroccan Quinoi salad (with nuts, and dried fruit), Garlic bread
Frozen Lemon Mousse


Meusli for a small breakfast, coffee, tea
Lunch: Panini crèpes with ham and cheese a dijon sauce with grilled asparagus


Home grown mini tomato and bocancini skewers; Roasted Red Pepper and Goats Cheese Feta skewers

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I’ve decided to get myself back on track after having fallen off track since December. I’m doing a very strict Dr. monitored diet for the next three weeks. I hope to drop 15lbs but expect 10lbs.
The diet is challenging not because I normally eat poorly or over indulge; it’s challenging because I can’t have wine!

All kidding aside, it boils down to about 800 calories a day made up of virtually no processed carbs or sugars: 100g of protein 2x a day, 230g of vegetables 2x a day and a zillion gallons of water!

Tonight we made a 400g lean roast loin of pork. Place pork in a Dutch oven with a quick spritz of Pam, and about 1/4 cup of LS chicken stock in a hot oven 350F for 20 minutes.
For the sauce, sauté 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions with a squirt of Pam and a dash of LS chickened stock, when translucent, add 1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms and 1-2 cloves of finely minced garlic, a 1/2 tsp thyme and 1tbsp Dijon mustard. Sauté until everything wilts and the mustard is evenly distributed. Add a 1/4 cup lemon juice and heat until warm. When the pork is cooked remove from heat and allow to rest. Make a nice bed of greens with arugula and spinach; slice the pork thinly and distribute 100g onto each plate with greens. Garnish with the warm mushroom and onion mixture, drizzling some of the liquid over all of the greens. Mmmmmm! It was deelish! Hope you enjoy.

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My best friend and her hubby were to come down to the big smoke for our holiday brunch today, but sadly the weather in god’s country prevented this from happening. So JT and I enjoyed an elaborate Mexican brunch all to ourselves.

The menu:

  • Whole wheat pesto pin wheels (gluten light)
  • Southwestern corn chowder
  • Heuvos Rancheros
  • Lemon squares with vanilla ice cream and strawberry coulis

Southwestern Corn Chowder (an adaptation of Michael Smith’s Southwestern Corn Soup)

Southwestern Corn Chowder

Serves 4; 3/4 cup portions

  • 2 tablespoons of corn, vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 small onions, thinly sliced (I omitted onions as Michael doesn’t like them!)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cups of chicken broth, homemade or canned (I used sodium reduced)
  • 1 ancho pepper (I only had dried)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp pancetta, crispy fried
  • 4 tbsp crème fraiche
  • 2 tbsp cilantro oil
  1. Heat oil and sauté onions until soft. Add garlic and sauté just until you can smell it. Add cumin and smoked paprika and stir until combined. Add ancho pepper.
  2. Add 2 cups of corn and stock. Cook until corn is very soft. Add cilantro.
  3. With an immersion blender, blend until corn is creamed well. Press through a fine seive to get all the corn skin. Add lime juice and stir well.
  4. Garnish with 1 tbsp crème fraiche, pancetta and cilantro oil. Serve warm.
  5. Enjoy!

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Another Tapas Dinner Party

We haven’t done a tapas dinner in quite some time, so we thought we’d pull out all the stops for my FBBFFE and hubby Roland. Here is the menu:

Bacon Wrapped Dates (an old favourite; we’ll have these in the kitchen at the island).

We’ll move the living room and enjoy the other courses by the fire.

Shrimp three ways, served in individual small portions: Shrimp Cappuccino Bisque with Garlic Saffron Aioli, Shrimp Mousse with Crème Fraiche, Shrimp Ceviche with Avocado and Coconut. The shrimp worked out very well; good flavours.

Home baked bread and Chorizo sausage with tomato and balsamic reduction; Sizzling Mushroom with Sheep’s Milk Feta; Roasted Golden Beets with Goats Cheese
The three courses above were another home run! Particularly successful were the mushrooms (how can you go wrong with butter and mushrooms?)

Palette cleanser: Cucumber and Mint Granita

Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese – an absolute flop! What a waste of lobster and cheese! Sorry guys.

Chocolate dipped strawberries. Yum!

Molten Chocolate Cakes with Crème Anglais and Raspberries – this one is always a total winner!

I’ll try to link to recipes when I get to my computer, later.

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We are having good friends MiMi and David for dinner Saturday night. Here is the menu:
Crostini with Seared scallop and avocado paste
Shrimp bisque with saffron garlic aoili toast – see below
Beef tenderloin with port reduction,
Roast garlic mashed potatoes
Green beans with butter and almonds
Molten chocolate cake, crème anglais and raspberries!

Shrimp bisque with saffron garlic aoili toast

Adapted from Gourmet, April 2001
Yield: Makes 4 servings (about 4 cups)


  • 3/4 lb medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
  • 1/4 stick (1/8 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup Pernod
  • 1 qt water
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 medium potato, cubed
  • 1 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup carnation LF evaporated milk
  • Fresh lemon juice to taste
  • Accompaniment: saffron garlic aioli toasts.


  1. Cook shrimp shells in 1/2 tablespoon butter in a 4-quart pot over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until golden. Add Pernod and boil, stirring frequently, until most of liquid is evaporated. Add water and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes. Pour shrimp stock through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing on shells and then discarding them.
  2. While stock is simmering, cook shrimp with salt to taste in 1 tablespoon butter in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to pot, then cook celery, potato and onion over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Stir in tomato paste, cayenne, salt, and shrimp stock and simmer, covered, about 20 minutes. Set aside 4 shrimp and stir remainder into bisque.
  3. Purée bisque in batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids), then pour through fine sieve into another pot. Stir in evaporated milk and cook over low heat until heated through (do not boil).
  4. Use reserved shrimp as part of garnish for bisque on a toast with a dollop of aioli.

Cooks’ note: Bisque can be made 2 days ahead. Cool, uncovered, before chilling, covered.
Save your shrimp shells in the freezer throughout the year and add to stock for even more flavour.
Reserve the shrimp ‘paste’ from the sieve and beat with cream cheese for an additional dip!

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Dinner with Neighbours

My friend is away on a girls weekend in New York City, so we decided to have her hubby and daughter for dinner. Last time they were over I had made a multi-course meal and it impressed her daughter so much that she wanted to make one at home; so of course, I had to indulge again! This is the menu:

Retro Deviled Eggs


  • 2 hard boiled eggs, pealed and cut in half length-wise, yolks removed and reserved
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp green onion finely chopped
  • 1 tsp capers
    1. Mix egg yolk, mayo, green onion and capers until creamy.
    2. Put this mixture into a pipping bag with the largest star-shaped nozzle.
    3. Pipe even amounts of this mixture into each yolk hole.
    4. Sprinkle smoked paprika to decorate the pipped mixture.
    5. Serve on mini individual plates, between courses.

Retro Deviled Eggs on Foodista

Mushroom Velouté with Truffle Oil



Old Fashioned Apple Pie



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Well, anyone who knows me knows that I am not a big fan of watching sports on tv, particularly football. But JT has gotten into it because of our dear friends Paul and T in Chicago so when I suggested we have our own little super bowl party, he lit up. I’ll likely watch the opening ceremonies and the half time game!

Here is the menu, with photos. No recipes here this time as I did the entire thing on the fly, but I did post a couple onto Foodista, so check out the link. Please note that each portion is quite small, so don’t get the impression that we’re complete pigs!

  • Garlic Butter Baked Escargot in profiteroles (these turned out amazing – the profiteroles crisped up on the outside and the garlic butter melted into the insides making them crispy and soft and chewy – WOW!).

Escargot with Garlic Butter and Parsley in a Profiterole

    Garlic Butter Escargot in Profiteroles on Foodista 

  • Baked Mediterranean Natchos – I cut triangles of fajita shells and baked them until they were crisp. I made a smoked paprika cheddar cheese sauce and we topped it with slivers of Hungarian Salami, Roasted Red Peppers, Hot Peppers, sliced Kalamato Olives, cilantro and Green Onions.

Baked Mediterranean Natchos

  • Herbes de Provence with Panko baked chicken wings and creamy Stilton dipping sauce. OMG – way, way, way better than I could have imagined! We couldn’t stop which meant no room for the chili!!!

Herbs en Province Crispy Wings

Herbs En Province Crispy Chicken Wings on Foodista

  • 5 Bean Vegetarian Chili with French Stick. (I didn’t bother photographing this, because we ended up having it for dinner Monday night because we were too full. It was tasty!)
  • Lime Squares from the Barb and Kevin dinner last night.
  • Lime Squares

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    We invited Barb and Kevin for dinner on Saturday night. Since the last time they were over, we had a tapas night, I thought we would have an Indian night (JT LOVES themes) Here is the menu, recipes are linked.

    Let’s get this party started: Onion Bahjis with Sweet and Spicey sauce

    Appi: Mulligatawny Soup (Yes, the soup Nazi version!) I didn’t alter it this time. It makes a lot of soup, but it’s delicious!

    Main: Butter Chicken, Basmati Rice, Steamed Cauliflower, Naan, Pickled Onions

    Finale: Gulab Jamun, Lime Square, Spiked Apricot Lassi!

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    We’re having Brian and Adrienne for dinner on Saturday evening (wow, I could hardly believe it myself, the young’uns gave us a Saturday?!?!?!?). And I decided to make another Tapas dinner so that we’re sitting around the cozy fire, instead of the dining room. We’ll start in the kitchen and move to the living room; JT and I will split the work so that we can take turns being with our guests. Adrienne has a gluten intolerance, which I have some experience in, since my best friend Kim has the same (Kim’s a bit more complicated as she is also allergic to soy!). The only difference with this meal is that I had to make a few things from scratch for the dinner, instead of pulling from my inventory in the freezer!

    Round 1: Kitchen Party
    Baba Ghanoush and sesame crackers (gluten free) and flat breads
    Onion Bhajis with Papaya Dipping Sauce (onion bhajis are made with Chic Pea Flour, totally G.F.)

    Round 2: Let’s get the party rollin’
    Leak and Potato Soup with gruyère fondu (just a fancy term for crispy gruyère on the top of the soup)
    Sausage and tomatoes in a red wine sauce with JT Bread (and G.F. bread)

    Round 3: Cleanser
    Wine Gelée (I’m getting a lot of mileage out of the gelée)

    Round 4: The Main Event
    Seafood Xtravaganza! Cold shrimp cocktail, oysters in pesto, sautéd scallops and calamari in garlic butter.
    Singapore Slaw (chef Lee’s signature dish!)

    Inspired by Lee's Slaw

    Round 5: The Finale
    Mexican Chocolate Pate, G.F. Profiteroles with Chocolate Bourbon Ice Cream and a Chocolate Kalhua Shooter all cohesively joined with a drizzle of rich caramel sauce!

    The End.

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    Friday, we’re having a good friend and boss Kim, her hubby Rob and their daughter Chloé for a ‘thanks for the rides’ dinner (I generally catch a lift with her from work, since we live across the road from each other). Because their 8 year old will be joining us I decided not to make it tapas (although of all the kids I know, she would most likely like it, however, I think it might drag things out a bit long for a kid).

    Hors D’oeuvres: Roasted Red Peppers with Sheeps Milk Feta and Balsamic Reduction

    Amuse Bouche: Home made Chicken Liver Paté on a Crisp Garlic Toast with Parsimon Confit (the parsimon confit was a gift from Anone on Christmas Day)

    Soup: Leak and Potato Soup with Gruyère Crème

    Palatte Cleanser: Wine Gelée (although I will have to figure out something for the under 18 guest!)

    Main: Paella

    Pre Dessert: Kahlua Chocolate Shooter (this is a dessert I served to the adults while the younger guest enjoyed her dessert, so she could watch her movie!!)

    Dessert: Apple Pudding with Caramel Sauce

    Photo styling by Chloé, photography by Kim with Rob’s iPhone! The Littlest Petshop Friends really add the warmth this photo needed!

    Kahlua Chocolate Shooter and Friends

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    I am starting my Christmas baking a bit late this year. Partly because I didn’t want sweets in the house and partly because I just couldn’t be bothered. That’s sad. But Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t share the sweets. JT just had one request, Nanaimo Bars, so it’s on the list again this year, but this time, I shall actually make them. I am also mixing it up a bit for variety.

    • Bargain Basement Barb’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
    • Peanut Butter Cookies
    • Mexican Macroons (chocolate spicey coconut macroons)
    • Chocolate Mint Hershey Kiss Cookies
    • Date filled Oatmeal Cookies
    • Namaimo Bars
    • Anzac Biscuits
    • Butterscotchy Almond Bars

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    We’re had Gordon and Angela over for dinner this past Saturday and of course, I am still on this Tapas kick so we’re doing Tapas Around the World Part III. Recently a dear friend’s mother reached out asking about tips and tricks to serve a successful tapas dinner (at least, in my own little mind, they have been successful!!), so this post will focus on my tips and tricks! Hope it helps, Noni!

    1. 4-6 (including yourselves) is an ideal grouping for tapas, more than 6 is a cocktail party!
    2. Mix it up – serve cold, room temperature and hot dishes so that you’re not standing in the kitchen the entire time.
    3. Mix up sharing portions and mini individual portions (this allows some who are hungrier to help themselves to a second helping).
    4. Prepare in advance and make notes on what’s next (there will always be distractions when you entertain, so I find the notes extremely helpful to make sure I don’t forget something!)
    5. KIS – keep it simple. Don’t plan to make something complicated that will take you away from your guests for more than 5-10 minutes at a time.
    6. Plan your plating. I generally take out all the dishes I am planning to use and have them ready in the order of the courses. This way you’re not scrambling to find something last minute (check out Tap Phong on Spadina in Toronto, the most amazing store for unique, inexpensive plates!).
    7. Plan to have things your spouse can do (such as grilling), that way you can share the cooking time and alternate being with your guests.
    8. Use prepared sauces adjusting to your specific taste; you don’t have to make everything from scratch!
    9. Multi purpose for example, two out of the three desserts will have Crème Anglais, one I will heat, the other will be served cold.
    10. Determine where courses will be eaten (we like to begin the kitchen on our soapstone island and end up in the living room in front of a roaring fire, but you can also move around, depending on what you are serving).
    11. Wrap necessary cutlery in a napkin per person and have it ready in the living room (or where ever you plan to eat your tapas).

    I have had good success with four rounds of three (four stages, each with three small portions or sharing portions). I will often try to incorporate a portion of something that I have made in bulk and frozen sometime previously and just have to cook/bake – that takes off some pressure of creating everything from scratch just for that meal. You can also mix it up with store-bought items and some home-made to help with the work load.

    This is the menu for last Saturday night, my notes for pre-preparation (to do the day or days in advance) are below and the order of preparation (during the dinner party) are below that. It’s a lot more prep work ahead of time, but it does give you a lot more time to enjoy your guests.

    Round 1: Thai

    • Lemongrass soup (May be prepared 1-2 days in advance and refrigerated. Reheat in microwave when ready to serve). I left out the shrimp this time, due to an aversion to seafood.
    • Pork Saté and peanut sauce (Prepare morning of, soak wooden skewers, marinate pork and refrigerate until ready to grill; Prepare peanut sauce in advance or use store bought, refrigerate).
    • 10-ingredient slaw (Prepare the morning of, keeping the wetter ingredients separate from the drier ones (such as cucumbers are wet, cabbage is dry) so the slaw stays crunchy. Combine and dress just before serving).

    Round 2: Spain

    • Chorizo and Tomato Sausage (Prepare raw ingredients and combine, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, ready for a quick fry).
    • Onion and Orange Salad (Prepare in advance so the onions have time to mellow). Store covered in refrigerator, I store in serving dish to save time later.
    • Bacon wrapped dates (I generally make these in bulk, so all I have to do is pulled out the required quantity from the freezer and bake when ready to serve).

    Round 3: India

    • Onion Bhaji with mango sauce (I prepared a bulk quantity of onion bhaja’s in advance and froze them – you can buy ready made bhaja’s to simplify. Now I have onion bhaja’s for another couple tapas dinners; Mango sauce was Sensations from Sobeys with a minor adjustment)
    • Mini Naan with Butter Chicken (I made butter chicken for dinner on Wednesday night and made too much on purpose; you can do this virtually with anything!)
    • Carrot Pickle (I made this a couple of days in advance, but you can buy ready made condiments just as easily).

    Round 4: France

    • Madeleine’s with Crème Anglais (I generally make Madeleine’s in bulk and freeze, so I just pull out the number I need). I made Crème Anglais the night before for another dinner party, so I just made too much and refrigerated)
    • Crêpe Suzette (I made Crèpes for breakfast the day before, and as usual, I made too much batter so I decided to make the crèpes for the tapas in advance and refrigerate. Remember that these are small portions so the crèpes are only 5″ in diameter!).
    • Ile Flottante (Crème Anglais from night before; I made the Ile the morning of).

    Below is an example of what my notes would be a few days prior to the event:

    Prepare a couple of days in advance:

    1. Cook lemongrass soup, cool and refrigerate.
    2. Create onion bhajas and freeze (I ran out of my stash, so I had to make them again).
    3. Create Bacon wrapped dates and freeze (I ran out of my stash, so I had to make them again).
    4. Butter Chicken (I planned to make this for dinner during the week and reserve a small portion for Saturday night – about one to two chicken chunks per person).
    5. Prepare Carrot pickle (this needs to sit in the dressing a few days to allow it to pickle). Refrigerate.
    6. Make crèpes, cover and refrigerate.
    7. Make Crème Anglais, cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

    Prepare the day of (this takes about 3 hours or so):

    1. Marinate pork with a store bought peanut marinate (I altered mine to my taste) and skewer on soaked wooden sticks, wrap in cello and refrigerate.
    2. Prepare the ingredients for the 10-ingredient slaw; keep wet ingredients such as mango and cucumber separate to the drier ones such as radish and cabbage. Do not dress until 10 minutes before serving (doing so will wilt the slaw and it will become too sloppy).
    3. Prepare the onion and orange salad (chop a few extra onions for the chorizo, this saves time). This salad needs to be dressed in advance so that the citrus can mellow the onion. Cover well and refrigerate (not covering will make your fridge smell like onions!)
    4. Crêpe Suzette: prepare the orange liquor sauce and reserve (no need to refrigerate).
    5. Prepare the Ile Flottante and allow to cool, refrigerate. (I put the ile into the individual dishes, covered and refrigerated so all I had to do was pour the Crème Anglais on top, and one of my three dessert courses was complete!).

    The Main Event. My actual notes are not nearly as detailed, but since I am giving pointers, I thought I would add as much detail and thought behind my madness!

    1. Guests arrive and beverages are served in the kitchen. I asked JT to grill pork satays, so the men do that outdoors while the women chat in the kitchen. We continued to chat and eat pork satay with peanut sauce in the kitchen.
    2. JT had prepared a fire in the fireplace in advance, so all he had to do was light it. We moved to the living room and JT lit the fire. This gave me a moment to clean up the kitchen a bit and heat up the soup in the microwave. While the soup is heating, I assembled the slaw and dressed it. On a large tray, we served the individual soup cups, and small plates for the sharing portion of the slaw. The lovely thing about tapas is that you can pace yourselves, so if one coarse is heavier, take a few extra minutes before serving the next round!
    3. We cleared the dishes and JT cut the bread, and brought out plates for the Spanish tapas, which were all sharing portions. The onion and orange salad was prepared in advance so all I did was pour it into the previously chosen serving bowl. The bacon wrapped dates take about 10 minutes on 375•F and the chorizo and tomato takes about 6 minutes. I cooked the chorizo while the dates were baking. We served it all at once. Because this course was sharing, it took a bit longer to eat particularly with the great conversations we were having!
    4. Because the courses are getting heavier, I waited for the Spanish course to be 1/2 finished before I put the rice on for the butter chicken. It takes 20 minutes and I wanted about 10-15 minutes between courses.
    5. When we cleared the dishes from the Spanish course, I started heating the butter chicken in the microwave (sauce and chicken heating separately, to keep the chicken whole and not mushy). The onion bhaji’s go into the oven for about 10 minutes on 350•F to heat through (they are already cooked from deep frying previously, I just need to reheat). The sauce for the bhaji was prepared in advance and was ready waiting on the serving platter. The pickle was also prepared in advance and already in the serving dish.
    6. The Indian course was served at once.
    7. Dessert had a bit more time between. I had previously plated the Ile Flottante so I just had to pour the Crème Anglais over it. Then I heated the remainder Crème Anglais for the Madeleine’s. The mini crépes had been prepared in advance, as had the orange sauce for the Crépes Suzettes. I heated the sauce in a pan, added the crépes and heated them through. Once the crépes were done, I plated and added the finishing touches and served. In the meantime, JT made espressos and dessert was enjoyed by the fire.

    Tapas seem like a lot of work, but it really is a well orchestrated symphony of courses. I’d love to hear your comments about your tapas dinner. Please let me know how it works out.

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    I have been really bad about blogging lately. My hesitation is that I want to post recipes with photos, but I do hate our crappy little Nikon so I procrastinate. My dear friend Barb gave me the boot last night and suggested that I post my creations anyway, so here I go (thanks Barbie!).

    We haven’t seen Barb and Kevin for quite some time, so we had them over for a tapas dinner. What’s really nice about a tapas dinner is that it’s the entire evening. We sat in front of a roaring fire and ate little portions all night long. If you think about the time you spend creating a sit-down meal and the relatively little time it takes to devour said meal, the tapas menu is a much more satisfying experience! I’ll post only recipes I haven’t posted before and I will try to link those that I have posted before. Keep in mind that I never use a recipe verbatim, I always eyeball to my own personal taste. This is a rendition of how I remember doing this dinner. Hope you enjoy.

    Round One: Asia
    Sushi rolls
    Lemongrass soup w. shrimp
    Mango salad
    Wine: South African Viognier

    Round Two: Mediterranean
    Chorizo w. tomato & balsamic
    Onion & orange Salad
    Wine: Spanish Rioja

    Round Three: Europe
    French onion soup dumplings
    Beef bourguignon
    Roasted golden beet & goats cheese salad
    Wine: French Cabernet Sauvignon

    Round Four: North America
    Québec Artisan Cheeses w. crackers and breads
    Wine: Ontario Late Harvest Riesling

    Lemongrass Soup with Shrimp (80 mL each serving, serves 4)

    • 350mL low sodium chicken stock
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 shallots finely chopped
    • 3 dried Kaffir lime leaves
    • 2 tbsp lemongrass, finely ground
    • 1 tsp coriander seeds, finely ground
    • 2 tsp or so freshly grated ginger (I like to use my microplane for this)
    • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic (I like to use my microplane for this)
    • 4 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 tbsp fish sauce
    • pinch of roasted chilli paste
    • 1 tbsp agave nectar (you may substitute honey for this)
    • 4 medium mushrooms (cut into quarters)
    • 4 cooked shrimp
    • 3 tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro
    • 3 tbsp finely sliced green onions
    1. This soup is prepared relatively quickly so it is best to have your mise en place  so all you do is add ingredients to the pot.
    2. Chopped shallots, set aside. Grind lemongrass and coriander seed, set aside (I like to use my spice grinder aka coffee grinder dedicated to spices).
    3. Heat olive oil in a 3 quart soup pot, add finely chopped shallots and sauté until soft.
    4. Add lemongrass, coriander and freshly grated ginger and garlic and sauté until you can smell all of the ingredients (less than 1 minute).
    5. Add chicken stock, fish sauce, lemon juice, chili paste, kaffir lime leaves and agave nectar and stir to combine.
    6. Bring to a boil and allow flavours to blend about 5-7 minutes on the boil, taste to make sure it is seasoned well.
    7. Add mushrooms about half-way through the boil.
    8. Remove from heat. Remove kaffir lime leaves.
    9. Serve in small bowls, adding one shrimp per bowl, garnish with chopped cilantro and finely sliced green onions.
    10. Enjoy!

    Mango Salad (serves 4 small)

    • 1 medium ripe mango
    • 1/2 English cucumber
    • 2 radishes
    • 2 green onions finely chopped
    • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
    • 4 tbsp coarsely chopped peanuts
    • 3 tbsp lime juice
    • 1 tbsp fish sauce
    • 1 finely chopped thai chili
    • 1 tsp agave nectar (or honey)
    1. This salad is best made the morning of the day you are serving so that the dressing has time to blend into the salad.
    2. Using a fine slice on a mandolin, finely julienne the mango, cucumber and radishes, toss to mix well.
    3. Add green onions and cilantro leaves and toss again, set aside.
    4. In a small measuring cup, mix lime juice, fish sauce, thai chili and agave nectar and whisk until well combined. Set aside for about 5 minutes.
    5. Strain thai chili’s from the dressing (otherwise it could be way too hot!) and pour over the salad mixture. Toss to coat evenly and refrigerate 4-5 hours.
    6. To serve, garnish with additional cilantro leaves and chopped peanuts.
    7. Enjoy!

    Chorizo with Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar (serves 4)

    • 1 cup 1/4″ sliced chorizo sausage
    • 2 medium sized plum tomatoes, seeded but skins left on
    • 1/4 cup chopped onion (I prefer Mayan sweet onions or vidalia)
    • 1 clove garlic finely chopped (I prefer to use my microplane)
    • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • salt and pepper to taste
    1. Heat olive oil in a small pan, add chorizo and caramelize each side.
    2. Add onions and garlic and sauté for a minute. Add tomatoes and sauté for another minute.
    3. Add balsamic and allow balsamic to reduce slightly 3-4 minutes (this will thicken the balsamic a bit)
    4. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

    Red Onion and Orange Salad (serves 4) adapted from Spain-Recipes.com

    • 2 medium navel oranges, peeled, sectioned and sliced in half into bite sized pieces.
    • 1 small red onion finely sliced (mandolin works best)
    • 1/2 cup raisins
    • 3 tbsp salted sunflower seeds
    • 2 tablespoons blueberry merlot balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    1. Section oranges over a bowl to catch the juice that undoubtedly drizzle from the orange.
    2. Combine oranges, onions and raising in a bowl.
    3. Combine vinegar and olive oil and mix well.
    4. Pour over oranges and onions. Refrigerate overnight (this will allow the onions to mellow quite a lot).
    5. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top and serve.

    French Onion Soup Bundles (makes about 24 dumplings, which may be frozen for future use)

    • 2 large mayan onions
    • 2 cups low sodium beef broth
    • 1/4 cup Port
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 tsp thyme
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 48 sheets of won ton wrappers
    • 1 egg white with a little water to help glue the wrappers
      Beef Broth for presentation
    • 2 cups low sodium beef broth
    • 1/4 cup port
    • 1 clove garlic smashed but left whole
    • 1 small onion in large chunks
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 tsp thyme
    • 1 cup gruyère cheese finely grated and broiled on a silpat sheet until crispy
    1. Finely chop onion and garlic.
    2. Heat olive oil and add onion and garlic, sauté for about 1 minute. Slowly add the beef broth to cover, add bay leaves. Stirring frequently, boil down adding stock as it evaporates until all the stock is consumed by the onions and the onions are golden brown.
    3. Add port to deglaze the pan, add thyme.
    4. Set aside to cool completely.
    5. Lay out 6 won ton wrappers at a time, painting each one with the egg white and water mixture. Add about 1 tsp of the onion reduction to the centre of each wrap and fold two opposing sides into the centre so they overlap and the sides are smoothed out to seal. Layout 6 more won ton wrappers at a time and paint each one with the egg white mixture. Lay filled won tons seam side down and repeat the folding process. Place finished bundles onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment so they do not touch one another. Repeat until the entire onion mixture has been used. Freeze over night and store in a zip lock bag for future use.
    6. For presentation, I like to serve the bundles in a beef broth reduction, drizzled with gruyère crème and a gruyère crisp. To make the beef broth reduction, add 2 cups beef broth, smashed garlic, onion in large chunks, 1 bay leaf and thyme into a sauce pan and simmer until reduced to about 3/4 cup. Strain liquid and set aside (discard onion, garlic, bay leaf mix).
    7. To serve, steam bundles for about 3-4 minutes until the won ton is done. Heat beef broth reduction and pour evenly into four shallow round bowls (should just be a hint of liquid, not a soup). Add french onion soup bundles and drizzle with the gruyère crème (I like the contrasts of the cold crème and the hot bundles in the hot soup) – garnish with the gruyère crisp. Serve immediately.
    8. Enjoy!

    Beef Bourguignon was JT’s specialty and he followed Julia Child’s recipe which can be found on line at Julia Child recipes: Boeuf à la Bourguignonne (should be made ahead and reheated on the stove for a few minutes, adding red wine if needed).

    Roasted Golden Beets, Sautéed Beet Greens and Goats Cheese Salad

    • 3 medium golden beets (well scrubbed, tops and bottoms trimmed, cut into 2″ cubes)
    • 2 tbsp olive oil in about 4 cups water
    • 1 oz pancetta finely sliced
    • 1 tsp olive oil
    • 1/2 finely chopped onion
    • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
    • 2-3 cups well washed and chopped beet greens
    • 1/4 cup balsamic
    • 1 tsp pesto (home made or store bought)
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/4 cup goats cheese crumbled
    1. Preheat over to 375°F.
    2. Put beet cubes into the water and olive oil, strain (this is an excellent way to reduce fat as the olive oil floats and as you strain the beets, it sticks evenly to the beets). Discard water.
    3. Arrange beets in a 13″ x 10″ pan evenly so they are not on top of one another. Bake for about 45 minutes or until beets are tender to pierce.
    4. Fry pancetta in 1 tsp olive oil until crisp, add onions and garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
    5. Add beet greens and sauté until soft (4-5 minutes). Remove from heat and add roasted beets.
    6. In a small measuring cup, mix balsamic, pesto and olive oil together.
    7. Place greens and beets on a platter and add crumbled goats cheese. Drizzle dressing over the warm salad and serve immediately.
    8. Enjoy!

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    The Menu Marlatt Weekend

    Our good friends the Marlatt’s are coming up north and we always do some interesting menus. Rae kindly ‘wine pairs’ to round out the experience. Here is the work in progress menu.

    Friday – Lunch




    • Roasted seasoned nuts


    • Breakfast
    • Croissants, Coffee and 1/2 grapefruit


    Cocktails and Dinner


    • Roasted seasoned nuts


    • Breakfast
    • Smoked Salmon, Bagels and Cream Cheese

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    We are having my good friend (and boss) Kim, her hubby Rob (the TV Star as he so loves to remind us – we’ll get to that later) and their lovely daughter Chloé. I’ve had a few bad hits with dinner with Chloé (she used to eat everything and now she is 7!) so  we’re going the safe route and I asked Kim what she likes – steak and potatoes. Nice and easy at any rate. Chloé also loves oysters so we’re going to get a dozen from the St. Lawrence Market – we’re having the famous peameal on a bun for breakfast YUM!

    Hors D’oeuvres: Oysters with a chimichuri style sauce, and a balsamic tomato and green onion salsa and Roasted Red Peppers and Sheep Milk Feta with a balsamic drizzle
    Appetizer: Rustic mushroom ragu ‘raviioli’
    Main: Steak, Baked Potatoes with all the trimmings and Caesar Salad with Garlic Bread (I may also add a healthy vegetable for me!)
    Dessert: Strawberry Shortcake with Fresh Whipped Cream

    Rustic Mushroom Ragu Ravioli (appetizer portion for 5)

    Eva's Rustic Mushroom Ravioli

    Eva's Rustic Mushroom Ravioli

    I was inspired by Laura Caulder’s Rustic Mushroom Ravioli on French Cooking at Home – but I tried to do it a little healthier, of course! I made my own pasta because I wanted to use only egg whites and I wanted a very thin pasta (this recipe is about the mushrooms and not the pasta!) I eyeballed my pasta so I won’t repeat the recipe, but any simple pasta recipe will do (semolini, egg, water) – you can even use won ton wrappers in a pinch!

    • 10 x 3″ squares of pasta, cooked and drained
    • 2 cups assortment of wild mushrooms hydrated in 2 cups hot water (I love the one’s you get from Costco US) – liquid reservered
    • 1 tbsp unsalted butter (a little pat won’t make you fat!)
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 cup onion, finely sliced
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
    • 1/2 cup of carnation low fat evaporated milk (cream substitute)
    • 1 tbsp cognac
    • 1 tsp unsalted butter
    • Parmesan shavings (about 3 per plate)
    1. Begin by sweating the onions until translucent in the tablespoon of butter and olive oil, add 1 cup of the finely strained mushroom broth and the rehydrated mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are soft (the mushroom broth will evaporate, intensifying the mushroom flavour.
    2. Add the garlic and cognac and stir until the alcohol has evaporated.
    3. Pour in the evaporated milk and 1/2 cup of mushroom broth, and simmer until liquid is reduced about 1/4 (there should be enough sauce for about 2-3 tbsps per person).
    4. Add the remaining butter and stir until melted.
    5. Place one sheet of pasta on each plate and spoon the mushroom ragu among the 5 plates with a little sauce on each – reserve a mushroom or two and some sauce per plate.
    6. Place the remaining pasta sheet over each one, not perfectly, this is rustic ravioli!
    7. Spoon the remaining mushrooms and sauce on top of the pasta and garnish with 3 shavings of parmesan cheese.
    8. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

    Mushroom Ravioli Rustico on Foodista

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    We’re having birthday month girl Pam and her new beau Don with Barb and Kevin for dinner tonight. I would have like to make a really supper fancy dinner, but work has been a bear this week (pulled a mid-nighter on Wednesday, which, I have to admit is not too bad – maybe one or two a year – but, I’m not 21 anymore! Really, I’m not. Oh, just stop it!!!!).
    It’s exciting because tonight is Earth Hour between 8:30 and 9:30 where you make every effort to turn off ALL your lights. So we will be eating by candle light (thank goodness I have a gas stove!)
    Here is the menu:


    • Salad: Boston Bib with Pears Poached in Spiced Balsamic Vinegar, Candied Spicy Walnuts and Crumbled Stilton with a Balsamic Raspberry Vinegrette


    • Main: Mushroom and Chestnut Barley Risotto with Seared Giant Scallops and a Lemon Sage Butter Sauce
    • Dessert: Birthday Normandy Apple Tart, complete with a candle.


    Not sure if there will be new photos, but I will surely post new recipes shortly.

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    Mr. Doran is coming…

    …just in time for cocktails on Sunday! Unfortunately, his lovely bride T won’t be able to join us this time, but you can bet we’ll be cocktailing over the phone! I was thinking about setting up the iMac in the kitchen and toasting on-line, but I was so busy this week I didn’t have a chance to figure out how to do it safely! So I chose not to rather than compromising the security of our new iMac!

    Here is the whirl-wind menu:

    Breakfast will be home-made meusli muffins (good for the morning after!) – updated, I decided to make Cinnamon Buns…see next entry for recipe, but here’s a sneak peak


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    Dinner with Kim and Rob

    We invited Kim and Rob over for dinner last night. He mentioned Todd and Tina bought a house (congrats you two!!) Here is the menu, recipes to follow in separate posts.

    Hors D’oeuvres: Fresh Figs, with Goats Cheese, Arugula wrapped in Proscuitto

    Amuse Bouche: Leek & Potato Capuccino with Gruyere Crème (no doubt enspired by our dinner to Europa in Montréal on Feb 15)

    Main: Home Smoked Salmon (cedar and maple), New potatoes with garlic and parlsey and steamed green beans and JTs famous no knead bread

    Dessert: Double Chocolate, Peanutbutter brownies.






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    JT made this with the Naan for dinner last night. This is quite tasty but it’s not the ‘butter chicken’ I know. What’s different about it is that it has almonds and raisins in the recipe. It’s a lot of work, and not really worth it, so I won’t bother posting the recipe, but it looks pretty good, so here is the photo. Recipe came from Simply Indian by Tahera Rawji and Hamida Suleman, published 2003 by Whitecap books, page 51.

    This is what we did differently than the recipe: substitute Carnation Evaporated Milk for the Cream and we also puréed the sauce so that it is more creamy and added about 1 tbsp of tomato purée and about 2 tbsp tandoori paste instead of 1 tbsp tandoori powder. In my opinion is that this is too sweet (too many raisins when puréed) and it needs about 1/2 cup to 1 cup plain yogurt for the tang.


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    Valentine’s Weekend


    JT surprised me with a getaway to Montréal; we left Friday morning and returned on Monday afternoon! What an amazing romantic mini-holiday!

    We rented a Toyota Camry Hybrid…totally cool. It cost a total of $65 for gas all the way to Montréal and Back that’s 1,100 km or 782 miles round trip!


    We had an amazing time. Great meals, great entertainment and great shopping. We stayed at L’Hotel De La Montagne. They have recently renovated the rooms – nicely appointed, modern style.



    We arrived Friday afternoon, unpacked and settled into our room, and then ventured outside for a brusque walk. The temperature wasn’t bad, but the wind was awful. We didn’t venture too far from our base dropping into stores along the way (I spotted a great pair of Italian leather boots, which I spent the next 2 days pondering). We had a Guiness at The Irish Embassy, just down the road from our hotel. On the way back, we dropped into Ogilvy’s a Montréal department store icon.

    Dinner on Friday night was at Globe Restaurant. We started with two raw oysters (just to get the romantic mood going…JT is such a trooper!) I had the appi sizes of Bizon tartar (YUM and very generous portions) and stuffed grilled calamari (Calamari stuffed with chorizo, Beluga (black) lentils, tomato confit). JT had the Cole Slaw and Crab, and the Roasted Grain Fed Chicken, yukon mash and oyster mushrooms with Alexander sauce (he said it was very tasty!). I would definitely recommend this place. I would have gone back on Sunday, but our friend’s Denis and Lynda had another suggestion!

    Saturday, Febrary 14th

    We woke relatively early and had breakfast at Eggspectations – we shared a mexican style omlette with rye toast and Café au Lait – YUM.
    Then we had a chilly walk to the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. We enjoyed their permanent collection, but I was surprised at how small it was.

    We took the Metro for free (was it because it was Valentine’s Day? Who knows) down to Montréal’s Old City and had lunch at one of our old favourites Crêperie Chez Suzette, and had a ham, gruyere and béchamel sauce crepe, with a lovely glass of wine. JT had beer from a local brewery (sorry, couldn’t find it on the net).


    We were so full from lunch, Valentine’s dinner was take out Onion Baja’s from one of Montréal’s top restaurants, Le Taj!

    Sunday, February 15

    We ate breakfast at Dundees Bar and Grill, just up the road from our hotel. We were bad and I had eggs benny and JT had smoked meat hash both with just about the BEST crispy fried potatoes I have EVER had!

    We took the Metro to the Montréal Botanical Gardens and spent the next hour and a half walking through some of the loveliest exhibits (we saw lemongrass, nutmeg, vanilla, cardamom to name a few!) We passed on the insectarium (for obvious reasons, if you know me).

    Another short Metro trip and we’ve arrived at Montréal’s China Town. It’s a lot smaller than most Chinatowns – just a couple of streets. We popped into a few gift/dishes stores, but they were no Tap Phong!

    We did come across a great Pho place, but damned if I can remember the name of it. After searching on line was unsuccessful – it’s the modern asian restaurant just down from the Japanese Fondu place! (it also has a takeout area right beside it – if you know the name, kindly let me know!).

    With a stop along St. Catharines to Simons (a fantastic shop, reasonably priced) where I bought some great cami’s and a new sweater; and of course a great shoe store J Bloom, where I bought a rocking pair of boots I’ve been thinking about since Friday afternoon! That’s double, right?

    Sunday night dinner was at Europa with Denis and Lynda (we went to their wedding about 2 and a half years ago.) The three of us had the chef’s tasting menu, and fortunately for John, he was able to enjoy all the extras!

    • Teaser I: Lobster cream Cappuccino with truffle shavings
    • Appetizer: Lightly seared and smoked King salmon, celeriac and Alaska king crab salad, granny smith apple caviar
    • Teaser II: Jellied shot of something fruity, but I cannot recall and the menu on line doesn’t say
    • Amuse Bouche: Spoon of bizon tartar
    • Main Course: I had the Pétoncle Géant: Roasted U10 scallops, “Blanche de Chambly” beer beurre blanc emulsion, barley risotto, rice lettuce espuma
    • Main Course: John had the Slowly braised veal cheeks, fondant potatoes and parsnip purée
    • A selection of desserts from our pastry chefs (these wonderful mini-cookies were served on the three-tier platter AND pink cotton candy!)
    • Dessert: Chocolate macaron presented on a crispy feuillantine, chocolate ganache (unfortunately, I was not able to taste this, as JT gobbled it before I had a chance!)

    Wow…That was Delicious!

    Monday, Feburary 16 (Statutory Holiday, Family Day in Ontario):

    We rose relatively early again and had an amazing breakfast at Reuben’s Deli on St. Catharines. I had the Montréal Bagel with Smoked salmon and cream and JT had Smoked Meat Hash – both delicious. The egg dishes were quite reasonably priced. As we were walking back to the hotel, a few snow flakes started to fall!

    We begun our journey home around 10:30 – a little later than anticipated. The day was overcast, which is great for driving. We made good time to Belleville where we stopped at the Crabby Joes for a bite. They really should have called it Crappy Joes! I had French Onion Soup. How doe you screw up French Onion Soup? Every pub in Ontario has this soup on the menu and this one was by far the worst I have ever had the misfortune of eating (what a shame, we were scoring so high with food in Montréal!). The first thing was that they put in way too many croutons (yes,croutons and not toasted french stick), so the damn things soaked up all the liquid, AND the liquid, whatever was left seemed to be a gelatinous goop. The cheese was plentiful, but tastless. JT ordered spinach salad, and oops, the kitchen ran out of spinach…so he had a roasted turkey wrap, which wasn’t bad. Oh well. We arrived home around 4:30, returned the car, unpacked, started laundry and got into the wine. We had popcorn for dinner. We’re working out every night this week.


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    We had Anna, André, Barb and Kevin for dinner Saturday night. It was a bit of a challenge because Anna is a vegetarian (no fish, but she does eat dairy and eggs). I love these types of challenges – it really tests my creative and cooking abilities.

    Barb & Kevin

    Barb & Kevin




    • H.D.: Roasted Red Peppers with Sheeps Milk Feta and Balsamic Reduction
    • Amuse Bouche for the carnivores: Chicken Liver Paté on Chive Biscuits and a dalop of Fig Confit
    • Amuse Bouche for Anna: Chesnut Paté on Chive Biscuits and a dalop of Fig Confit (this turned out great, I will post the recipe shortly)
    • Appi: Boston Bibb, Poached Pears, Caramalized Walnuts and Stilton Salad with Balsamic Reduction dressing
    • Main: Contemporary Chicken Cordon Bleu on a bed of navy bean risotto, drizzled with a taragon sauce (Anna will get roasted eggplant rolled with mozerella)
    • Dessert: Anna is bringing a wonderful flourless chocolate cake. Anna makes amazing desserts! Recipe to come, photo below.

    Roasted Red Peppers and Sheeps Milk Feta (check it out on Foodista)


    • 4-5 Red Peppers (try to get some with heavier flesh)
    • 250 g Sheeps Milk Feta
    • Olive oil
    • Toothpicks
    1. Pre heat broiler to high.
    2. Cut Peppers in half and rub generously with olive oil.
    3. Place each pepper cut side down on a cookie sheet and place in oven in relatively close proximity to the burners. Watch carefully as you want the skins to darken but not catch on fire!
    4. Broil until the skins are black. Remove from oven and place the peppers into a thick freezer style zip lock bag (or in a glass bowl and cover with cello) for about 1/2 hour.
    5. Remove from bag or bowl and remove skins (they should easily peel away, if not, put them back and allow to sweat a bit more).
    6. Slice roasted red peppers into about 1″ x 4+” slices. Cut feta into about 1/2″ x 1″ rectangles. Roll the feta in the red peppers and skewer with a toothpick. repeat until all the feta and or red pepper are used.
    7. Display on a plate with the toothpick facing upward (for easy access) and lightly drizzle with balsamic and olive oil.
    8. This may be made 1 to 2 days in advance and kept in an airtight container in the fridge.

    Anna’s Flourless Chocolate Torte


    • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 150 g dark chocolate
    • 150g butter
    • 1 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 125 g ground almonds
    • 4 eggs separated
    • 300 g raspberries
    • 200g dark chocolate
    • 2/3 cup whipping cream
    1. Preheat oven to 325. Grease  22 cm round spring form pan.
    2. Line base and side with parchment paper.
    3. Blend cocoa and water in large bowl.
    4. Melt butter with 150 g of chocolate in microwave.
    5. Stir into cocoa mixture, along with sugar, ground almonds and egg yolks.
    6. Beat egg whites in small bowl until soft peaks form.
    7. Fold into chocolate mix in 2 batches.
    8. Pour into prepared pan and cook @ 1 hour. Stand cake to cool for 15 minutes. Remove sides and cool completely on wire rack. When completely cool, remove all paper and transfer onto plate.
    9. Place raspberries on top of cake.
    10. Heat remaining 200 g of chocolate with cream until melted. Drizzle chocolate on top of raspberries. Leave the cake at room temperature until chocolate sets.

    Serves 12

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    JT’s sister and her son (nephew Brian) were over for dinner on Saturday night. This pork loin roast is a fantastic recipe that we originally saw on Martha Stewart, when she had her Mom as a guest on the show. I’ve adapted the recipe, of course, but will link to the original in the title.

    The Menu

    Cocktails: Spanakopita

    Appetizer: Lemongrass soup with shrimp

    Main course:
    Roast Loin of Pork with Pan Fried Apples and Apple Cider Gravy
    Braised Red Cabbage
    Garlic Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes (trying to keep the carbs down, but I have two yukon golds left over in the fridge that I want to use up!)

    Dessert: Apple Strudel with Caramel Sauce

    Lemongrass Soup (spicey Tom Yum) adapted from this website (this really is not as complicated as the list of ingredients, but don’t miss one, you will know it!)
    Serves 4

    • 3 cups water or chicken stock
    • 1 lemongrass stalk, cut into 4″ pieces and smashed
    • 4-6 whole (double) torn kaffir lime leaves
    • 3 slices galangal (about 1/2 teaspoon
    • 3-20 small thai chilies, to taste
    • 2 cups mixed mushrooms (straw mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, black mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, wood ear mushrooms, etc.)
    • 1 tomato, cut into 8 pieces lengthwise
    • 2 tablespoons white soy sauce
    • 1 teaspoon white sugar (or to taste)
    • 3 tablespoons lime juice
    • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
    • 1-2 stems coriander, cleaned and roughly chopped
    • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
    • 4 shrimp, cooked skinned, cleaned and tail off
    1. Add the water/stock to a sauce pan. Crush the lemongrass and cilantro root in a stone mortar & pestle or with the butt of a knife, then add them to the water. Tear the lime leaves to release flavor, and throw them in too along with the galangal.
    2. Turn on your heat to medium high, and bring to a boil. Boil your herbs for about 5 minutes or so, to release the flavors. The color of the water should be a light green when you’re finished.
    3. Add the mushrooms, and chilies and boil for 2-3 more minutes, until mushrooms are soft.
    4. Add the sliced tomato, and cook until soft, probably less than a minute.
    5. Turn off the heat. Add your soy sauce, sugar, and at the very end the lime juice. Taste to make sure the flavor is right… It should be very sour & spicy. You may need to add more lime juice depending on how sour your limes are.
    6. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with one shrimp and cilantro leaves.

    Roast Loin of Pork with Apple Cider Gravy

    • 1 boneless pork loin (4 to 5 pounds), tied
    • 8 cloves garlic, sliced
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground marjoram
    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 large mayan onion, finely chopped
    • 2 jonagold apples sliced about 1/4 inch thick
    • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
    1. Make incisions in the pork every 2 to 3 inches, and insert garlic slices. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, sugar, and marjoram, and coat the pork evenly with the mixture. Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
    2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle flour over the pork to lightly coat. Shake to remove any excess flour. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add pork, and brown on all sides. Transfer pork to a large roasting pan. Add the chopped onions over the pork. Add 1 1/2 cups water to roasting pan, and roast, covered, for 1 hour, basting occasionally.
    3. Remove pork loin from roasting pan, and let rest for 10 minutes. Place roasting pan on stove, heat over medium-high heat, and cook pan juices until reduced and thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, set aside for the apple cider gravy (below).
    4. In a frying pan, melt the butter, and pan fry the apple slices until slightly browned on both sides.
    5. Slice pork, arrange on a serving platter with the apples, and serve with gravy (below).

    Apple Cider Gravy (this is an adaption from President’s Choice first cookbook)

    • 2 cups apple cider
    • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
    • 1 cup low fat evaporated milk (not condensed) or heavy cream
    • Salt and Pepper to taste
    1. In a saucepan, bring apple cider to a boil and reduce to about 1/2 cup (this does take some time).
    2. Remove from heat and whisk in the dijon mustard and the cream.
    3. Return to heat and simmer until reduced about 3/4.
    4. Add the juices from the roasting pan. Mix well.
    5. Season and keep warm until ready to serve.

    Apple Cranberry Strudel


    • 6 Jonagold apples, peeled cored and grated coarsely.
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 2 tsp lemon juice
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
    • 1 tsp grated lemon peel
    • 1/2 cup ground walnuts or almonds
    • 6 sheets of phyllo pastry
    • 1/4 cup melt butter (unsalted)
    • Sugar for dusting strudel top
    1. Mix apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cranberries and lemon peel together and set aside.
    2. Take 3 sheets of phyllo pastry and drizzle with melted butter in between each sheet.
    3. Sprinkle with ground nuts.
    4. At one end, add enough apple filling to form a roll about 3″ in diameter, all the way across the pastry.
    5. Fold in edges and roll up.
    6. Repeat with second set of three pastries.
    7. Brush with melted butter.
    8. Bake at 350°F until phyllo is golden.
    9. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, drizzled with caramel sauce, and yogurt (to cut some of the sweetness).

    Caramel Sauce (adapted from Epicurious Bon Appétit | April 2006

    Makes about 3/4 cup

    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1/8 cup light corn syrup
    • 1/2 cup carnation 2% evaporated milk (not condensed)
    1. Combine sugar, 1/2 cup water, and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
    2. Increase heat and boil without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 10 minutes.
    3. Remove from heat. Carefully add evaporated milk (you may want to stand back — mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir sauce over low heat until any caramel bits dissolve and sauce is smooth. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium-low heat just until pourable, then let caramel sauce cool to room temperature.)

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    Last Saturday we had our good friends, Dave and Mi Mi over for dinner. The menu was:

    Hors D’oeuvres: Home made chicken liver paté, korozot (hungarian goats cheese dip) and variety of olives.

    Puréed Roasted Cauliflower Soup (recipe below), with slivered apples and gruyere cheese dallopped on the centre.

    Paella with Rustic Home Baked Bread

    Molten Chocolate Cake with berries and Vanilla Ice Cream

    Puréed Roasted Cauliflower Soup (8, 1/2 cup servings)

    check out the recipe on Foodista

    1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into even chunks
    1 head garlic + 2-3 tbsp olive oil + sea salt
    1 small yellow onion
    2-3 tbsp olive oil
    sea salt to taste
    3-4 cups stock of your choice (I like miso, but chicken works well too…I wouldn’t try beef!)
    1 golden delicious on Jonagold apple julienned into thin slivers
    4 tbsp julienned Gruyeres cheese

  • Instructions

    Preheat oven to 350F.
    Prepare garlic to roast, remove loose skin.
    Take a 10″ x 10″ piece of parchment and put garlic squarely in the middle. Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt.
    Take a 10″ x 10″ piece of foil and place beneath parchment, now wrap the entire garlic up so that the olive oil does leak out. Set aside.
    Quarter yellow onion.
    Place onion and cauliflower on a 12″ x 17″ cookie sheet with 1-2″ sides, drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, coating evenly.
    Place sheet in oven, place garlic package beside it and roast for about 40-45 minutes. You don’t want the cauliflower to brown, just roast nicely.
    When cauliflower is soft, place into a glass blender. Remove garlic from package and drip the olive oil onto the cauliflower in the blender. Squeeze the garlic out into the blender…the whole thing.
    Pour 2 cups of stock into the blender and blend to puré, adding additional stock to desired consistency.
    Using a fine seive and the back of a laddle, press the puréed soup through so that all lumps are removed.
    Reheat in microwave, garnish with cheese first then the apple on top, and enjoy.

    Paella (serves 4 really hungry or 6 marginally hungry people)

    This is a recipe I adapted a long time ago from Ken Kostik, but I can no longer find it on line!) I find this very easy because everything is cooked independantly and then assembled in the paella pan, and reheated for about 10-15 minutes.

    • 4 chicken thighs cut into halves or thirds depending on how large they are (I like the dark meat for this recipe)
    • 12 shelled and deveined shrimp
    • 1 calamari tube, sliced in rings about 1 cm thick
    • 12-16 mussels (this may be omitted), cleaned and checked that they are alive
    • 1 Chorizo sausage sliced into 1 cm thick rounds then cut in half
    • 5 oz white fish of your choice (we used cod because it stands up to cooking in the rice)
    • 1 tsp saffron
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • 1 cup long grain white rice
    • 1 tbsp smoked paprika (I generally use spanish)
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic minced finely
    • 1/2 sweet onion
    • 4 skinned and seeded chopped tomatoes
    • 1 red pepper
    • 1/2 cup frozen peas
    • 1 tbsp fresh basil chiffonade
    • Lemon wedges to garnish
    • 2 green onions finely sliced


    1. The day before marinate the chicken thighs in 2 tbsp olive oil, smoked paprika and salt and refrigerate.
    2. 1 hour before cooking the rice, soak the saffron and garlic in the white wine for about 1 hour.
    3. Prepare rice in a rice cooker, adding the saffron, garlic wine and about 1/2 of the cut Chorizo sausage and remaining water as per rice instructions.
    4. Using a cast iron griddle, cook the chicken thighs thoroughly. Refrigerate.
    5. In the paella pan, add 1 tbsp olive oil and sauté onions until translucent, add the remaining Chorizo sausage and brown the sausage. Set aside.
    6. Preheat the oven to 350F.
    7. Once the rice is cooked and you are about 10-15 minutes from serving, add the rice, fish, mussels, shrimp, calamari, tomatoes and chicken. Stir well (depending on how wet you like your paella, you may wish to add chicken stock to taste – I prefer a dryer version, don’t forget that the mussels will release some liquid as well). Bake in 350F oven for about 10 minutes until shrimp is pink, mussels have opened and calamari is done but no rubbery!
    8. Add frozen peas and red pepper. Stir and bake an additional 2-5 minutes, until heated through. Garnish with green onions, lemon and basil.
    9. Serve immediately with fresh home made bread, and lots of wine!

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    clockCountdown Clock

    The Doran’s are coming, the Doran’s are coming! It won’t be for New Year’s but then again, it’s better than nothing! Our crazy world-travelling friends are travelling to the big smoke, whirl-wind style as usual, arriving Friday around lunch-time and leaving Sunday around 7pm! We’re really looking forward to our ‘Doran Fix’

    The menu:

    Friday Lunch:
    Homemade Pizza – salami and goats cheese (low in lactose) on a Vidalia onion confit, field greens with a light dressing.

    martini-glassFriday Cocktail: Martini’s and T’inspired Spanakopita

    Friday Dinner:
    Chicken Cacciatore on a bed of spinach and home made crusty bread (UPDATED)
    Dessert: Peach cobbler with home-made Vanilla Ice Cream (UPDATED)

    After dinner we will take a tour of Toronto’s Cavalcade of Lights…about 12 neighbourhoods have decorated main streets with lovely Christmas lights!

    headache1Saturday Breakfast:
    Home-baked Breads and Muffins, Coffee

    We’ll take off to see McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario and have lunch in the quaint town of Kleinburg at Chartreuse Restaurant, Pub!

    martini-glassSaturday Cocktails: Martini’s and Bacon Wrapped Dates

    Saturday Dinner (men’s night to cook):
    JT’s famous Mediterranean Pasta (with whole wheat, hi fibre pasta, and sheep’s milk feta – low in lactose!)

    Dessert: Apple Crisp and home made vanilla ice cream (if there is some left!) (UDATED)

    headache1Sunday Breakfast (assuming it will be relatively late!):
    Dr. G’s

    Depending on how everyone feels, we may want to shop, or go downtown to the Hockey Hall of Fame! Of course, all this could change due to weather.

    Sunday Lunch: TBD.

    We’re dropping them at the airport later that day…I wonder where we’ll meet again!

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    I have now baked about 11 items, and am officially announcing that I am tired of baking!

    • Bargain Basement Barb’s Chocolate Chip Cookie
    • Peanut Butter Bars (new)
    • Lauren’s Spice Cookies (new)
    • Donkey Ears
    • Chocolate Mint Hershey Kiss Cookies
    • Peppermint Bark
    • 2-Bite Chewy Chocolate Brownies (new)
    • 2-Bite Butterscotch Blondies (new)
    • Namaimo Bars (new) – I may not make this
    • Anzac Biscuits
    • Butterscotchy Almond Bars (new)

    I will be assembling my baked gifts next week, as our Christmas celebrations continue!

    Last night we were out with my work gang for our Christmas Pool Game and then later to Le Select for dinner (my favorite French restaurant in Toronto). We had 8:30 reservations, but were not seated until almost 9:30…dinner was around 10 (maybe even later). It was fun and delicious! Tonight we’re off to see the lights downtown!

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    I am just about to begin my Christmas baking. The following is a list of items to be made. I will be posting only new receipes, anything already posted should be in the correct category for easy reference.

    Over the year, I have been saving pretty (clean) boxes, bags and such to recycle and hand out to good friends. I have to be aware that one of my good friend’s daughter has a walnut allergy, so no walnuts or pecans (she can eat peanuts and almonds!), so none of the recipes will contain those nuts!

    JT is doing the shopping today for the ingredients so I will likely start this weekend! To help determine how much of everything I will need, I created this little chart in excel:


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    We’re had my best friend Kim (from university) and her husband Michael for dinner last night, and planning a meal for them is always a challenge. Kim is allergic to gluten, potatoes, and soy; Michael doesn’t eat anything with nuts or onions or anything that is very different! The dinner was a huge success and I was relieved!

    I always try to make interesting, but safe meals (safe meaning Michael will eat it!) and that’s when I thought of a contemporary twist on Chicken Cordon Bleu! The first time I had Chicken Cordon Bleu was at my future (at the time) mother-in-law’s home; they were store bought, with chunks of ham and swiss cheese stuffed into a breaded, seasoned chicken breast. I can still taste the salt! My version will not be as bad for you, and it will be home-made.

    The Menu:

    Hors d’oeuvres: Sesame Crackers and warm Caramelized Onion Cheddar Dip (I used roasted garlic for this version)

    Appetizer: old fashioned shrimp cocktail with Wasabi cocktail sauce (ketchup, wasabi (to taste) and about 1/2 tsp fresh micro-ground ginger)

    Chicken Cordon Bleu with a creamy mushroom sauce
    Cauliflower and white bean mash
    Asparagus with butter and garlic

    Dessert: Molten chocolate cake with a berry sauce.

    Sesame Crackers (from Elana’s Pantry)

    These are delicious!



    1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together almond flour, salt, sesame seeds, eggs and oil until well blended
    2. Separate dough into two halves
    3. Line two large (12 x 16) stainless steel baking sheets with parchment paper
    4. Place one half of the dough in the center of each lined sheet
    5. Cut another piece of parchment paper and place it over one of the balls of dough
    6. Roll dough out between the two pieces of parchment paper, until it is ⅛ inch thick and covers the entire baking sheet; remove top paper and repeat process with the other piece of dough (Note from Eva: use a flavoured olive oil)
    7. Cut the dough with a knife or pizza cutter into 2 inch squares
    8. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown
    9. Cool and serve

    Makes 96 crackers

    Contemporary Chicken Cordon Bleu


    • 4 5-6 oz skinless, boneless chicken or turkey breasts.
    • 8 slices of Proscuito
    • 8 slices of smoked cheese (I used Manitoba Smoked Cheddar)
    • 1/2 cup chicken stock (home made or low sodium)


    1. Butterfly the chicken breast. Put one into a zip lock baggy and lay as flat as possible. Flatten the chicken using a meat pounder (flat, not ridged) to an even thickness. Repeat for all chicken breasts.
    2. On each chicken breast place two slices of Proscuito and 2 slices of cheese to cover the breast.
    3. Roll tightly with remaining Proscuito, securing with butcher string. Store in refrigerator until required.
    4. Preheat oven to 350F.
    5. Using a well seasoned cast iron skillet with a squirt of Pam, brown chicken rolls on all sides.
    6. Add wine and chicken stock, cover with foil and finish baking in oven (until chicken juices run clear). Reserve liquid, if any.
    7. Serve sliced into 1/2 inch slices on a bed of Cauliflower and White Bean mash.

    Cauliflower and White Bean Mash

    I got the idea of mixing white beans with cauliflower to beef up the creaminess of the cauliflower (and white beans won’t change the colour of the cauliflower!).


    • 1 head cauliflower (about 1kg)
    • 25g dried white or navy beans (prepare according to package directions – use water to rehydrate)
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 1/2 cup sweet Mayan onion


    1. Steam cauliflower and garlic clove until very soft (steaming as opposed to roasting to preserve the whiteness).
    2. Prepare white beans according to directions, add onions and cook until everything is soft.
    3. In a food processor, process cauliflower and white beans mix and garlic to a fine paste.
    4. This is a very important step: Strain the processed mix through a fine sieve (this step will remove the bean skins which will be coarse and ensure the mash is really creamy and smooth!)
    5. Keep warm over a bain-marie. The steamed cauliflower should have enough liquid to make a thick creamy mash, but if it is too thick, add a bit of chicken stock.

    ‘Creamy’ Mushroom Sauce (adapted from Epicurious)


    • 1 cups home-made or canned low-sodium chicken stock
    • 1 ounce dried forest mushroom mix rehydrated in 1 cup water
    • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
    • 1/2 pound brown mushrooms, sliced
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1 tsp brandy or cognac
    • 1/2 cup low fat cream (optional)
    • Salt and pepper to taste.


    1. The night before, rehydrate forest mushrooms with water in refrigerator.
    2. Strain the mushroom liquid through a coffee filter, reserve.
    3. Rinse hydrated mushroom carefully (these are often very sandy, so rinse well). Set aside.
    4. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a cast iron sauce pan, add onions and cook until soft.
    5. Add 1/2 the sliced brown mushrooms. Cook until soft. The mushrooms will release quite a bit of water, this will help make the sauce!
    6. Add the garlic and then add the reserved mushroom liquid and reserved chicken liquid.
    7. Transfer this mushroom mix into a blender and blend until smooth, add cream. You may add chicken stock until desired consistency is achieved.
    8. Strain through a fine sieve, set aside. Discard bits.
    9. Melt the remaining 1 tbsp butter in the sauce pan. Add the forest mushrooms and remaining sliced brown mushrooms. Cook until soft.
    10. Add brandy or cognac and cook until alcohol has burned off.
    11. Pour the reserved strained mushroom sauce into the pan and mix thoroughly with the chopped mushrooms.
    12. Add fresh chopped parsley.
    13. Serve in a warm gravy boat and allow people to help themselves.

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    Geo my dear Mom’s widower husband (is that how you say that she’s dead, nicely?) has decided to move from his bustling metropolis condo in Scarborough (more like Scareborough) to his eldest daughter and son-in-law’s in Lindsay – his last week is this one coming up. I decided to make a special dinner! didn’t take pictures, too bad, because it was lovely, it’s just difficult to photograph with the kitchen so open and I like to serve things piping hot!

    The Menu:
    Cheddar shortbreads with fig compote (the compote was gift so I have no recipe)
    Smoked Salmon Three Ways
    Pear stuffed Roast Loin of Pork
    Fall Roasted Root Vegetables
    Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
    Kalamata Olive Bread with olive oil for dipping
    Apple & Pear Crisp with Walnut Stussel Topping

    Hors D’oeuvres: Cheddar shortbreads from a previous post

    Appetizer: Smoked salmon three ways I served these three salmon appi’s on a long rectangular white plate, the soufflé in a mini white ramekin, the tartar on a white Chinese spoon, and the mousse on one of my flat breads in a cool shape.

    Smoked Salmon Tartare With Ginger And Sesame my adaptation from Bon Appétit | August 1999

    • 2 tablespoons Rose’s Lime Cordial (this is a sweetend lime juice, which can be made to taste with fresh lime juice and simple syrup)
    • 1 teaspoon wasabi cream (or to taste)
    • 6 ounces sliced smoked salmon (not lox), finely chopped
    • 1/4 cup finely diced seeded peeled English hothouse cucumber
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
    • 1 tablespoon minced green onion
    • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger (see my tip about Fresh Ginger below)
    • 1 teaspoon oriental sesame oil (use sparingly, it’s stonge stuff)
    1. Mix in salmon, cucumber, cilantro,green onion, sesame seeds, ginger and sesame oil.
    2. Before serving, stir lime cordial and wasabi powder to blend.
    3. Serve in Chinese spoons as part of Smoked Salmon Three Ways

    TIP: I can never use up the amount of ginger I buy at once and it’s alway so difficult to peel and slice so it’s not woody. Chef Michael Smith from FoodTV.ca recommends to freeze fresh ginger and use a Micro plane grater to grate, you don’t even need to peel because it grates so finely. This is WONDERFUL! I have not had woody bits of ginger nor have I had to discard rotting bits in my fridge!!!

    Smoked Salmon Soufflé my adaptation from Gourmet | November 1994
    NOTE: I have reduced the original recipe to suit my requirements – beware!
    Serves 4 appetizer portions or 6 mini hors d’oeuvres.

    • 1 small onion, chopped fine (about 3/4 cups)
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 3/4 cup pound smoked salmon, chopped
    • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 cups milk
    • 2 large eggs, separated
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    1. Preheat oven to 375°F. and butter and flour a mini ramekins, knocking out excess flour.
    2. In a large saucepan cook onions in butter over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Add salmon and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, about 2 minutes.
    3. In a small saucepan heat milk to a bare simmer and add gradually to salmon mixture, stirring constantly. Boil salmon mixture, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in egg yolks, dill, and Parmesan. Transfer salmon mixture to a large bowl.
    4. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat egg whites with a pinch salt until they just hold stiff peaks. Stir one fourth whites into salmon mixture to lighten and fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Pour mixture into prepared dish and put in middle of oven.
    5. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. and bake soufflé about minutes, or until puffed and golden and a tester comes out clean. Place on a small rectangular dish to one end. Serve immediately.
    Smoked Salmon Horseradish Mousse my adaptation from Gourmet | November 1992
    Servings: Serves 6 as a first course (lots left over if serving like I did).

    • 3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
    • 1 tablespoon cold water
    • 3/4 cup sour cream (I used yogurt cheese)
    • 2 ounces smoked salmon, chopped (about 1/3 cup), plus 6 ounces smoked salmon, sliced thin
    • 1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh horseradish, or to taste
    • 2 teaspoons minced fresh dill plus dill sprigs for garnish
    • pumpernickel toast points as an accompaniment, if desired
    1. In a small saucepan sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let it soften for 1 minute.
    2. Heat the mixture over low heat, stirring, until the gelatin is dissolved, add 1/4 cup of the yogurt cheese, and cook the mixture, whisking, until it is smooth.
    3. In a food processor purée the chopped salmon until it is very smooth add the gelatin mixture, the remaining 1/2 cup sour cream, the horseradish,
    4. Remove from blender and stir in the minced dill, and salt and pepper to taste.
    5. Pour into decorative containers which are easy to unmold (you may need to wrap the inside of the container with plastic wrap to help unmold it)
    6. Chill the mousse, covered, for 1 hour, or until it is firm. The mousse may be made 2 days in advance and kept covered and chilled.
    7. Unmold each one and place carefully on the plate as above, garnish with a sprig of dill, serve with Eva’s Flat Breads.

    French Bread with Kalamata Olives and Thyme Bon Appétit | February 20 – I didn’t change anything on this recipe, it worked beautifully! Very tasty bread.

    Roast Loin of Pork with Pear Stuffing my adaptation from Gourmet | June 2002

    • 4 slices bread of your choice (or 1 cup croutons)
    • 1/2 cup chopped shallots (3 large)
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 3 Bosc pears
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (we don’t love pepper so I omit this)
    • 1 (3- to 3 1/2-lb) center-cut boneless pork loin roast (3 1/2 inches in diameter), not tied
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1/2 cup water
    1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

    Make stuffing:

    1. Cut just enough bread into 1/3-inch pieces to measure 1 cup and spread evenly in a shallow baking pan. Toast bread in middle of oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes, then transfer to a bowl. Leave oven on (for pork).
    2. Cook shallots in butter in a large skillet over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add pears and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in bread, parsley, and salt, (and pepper).

    Stuff and roast pork:

    1. Make a hole for stuffing that runs lengthwise through pork loin: Beginning in middle of 1 end of roast, insert a sharp long thin knife lengthwise toward center of loin, then repeat at opposite end of loin to complete incision running through middle, repeat to form an X.
    2. Open up incision with your fingers, working from both ends, to create a 1 1/2-inch-wide opening, then pack with all of stuffing, pushing from both ends toward center.
    3. Pat pork dry and and season well with salt and pepper.
    4. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until very hot and just smoking, then brown pork on all sides, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a roasting pan and roast in middle of oven until a meat thermometer inserted diagonally 2 inches into meat (avoid stuffing) registers 160°F, 45 to 50 minutes.
    5. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand 20 minutes.
    6. While loin is standing, straddle roasting pan across 2 burners. Add 1/2 cup water and deglaze pan by boiling over moderate heat, scraping up brown bits.
    7. Slice meat and serve with sauce.

    Garlic Roast Mashed Potatoes this is from my test dinner menu in February 2008.

    Roasted Root Vegetables: I used parsnips and sweet potatoes (red and white). The trick to perfect roasted vegetables is to chop them the same size so they all cook evenly. The other thing to keep in mind is to roast similar density vegetables at the same time (for example, onions will take less time because they are less dense than parsnips and sweet potatoes!). Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt and roast at 450F for about 45 minutes or until soft. Turn occasionally to ensure all sides are caramelized!

    Apple Crisp with Walnut Steusel Topping my adaptation from Gourmet | January 1996

    For topping:

    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup rolled oats
    • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

    For Crisp:

    • 5 medium Golden Delicious or Jonagold apples
    • 5 Bosc pears
    • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice to keep apples from browning
    • 1-4 tbsp firmly packed brown sugar (taste apples, if not sweet enough, add more sugar)
    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

    To make streusel:

    1. In a small bowl with pastry blender, blend butter, brown sugar, and flour until smooth and blend in nuts and rolled oats. Chill topping, covered.

    To make crisp:

    1. Peel and core fruit. Cut fruit into 1 cm cubes and toss with lemon juice.
    2. Toss fruit with remaining filling ingredients to coat.
    3. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    4. Prepare a oven proof container coating lightly with butter.
    5. Spoon apple mixture into container.
    6. Crumble streusel over the top, breaking up any large chunks.
    7. Bake for about 30 minutes or until fruit is soft (you may wish to broil the topping so it is crispy).
    8. Serve crisp warm or at room temperature with ice cream (or as I did, a dallop of yogurt).

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    Every year, I have mixed feelings about fall; I love the fall colours, I get excited about winter coming, but get really sad about having to put socks and shoes on! It all boils down to claustrophobic feet! There I said it.

    We closed the cottage this weekend. The weather was quite lovely (about 24C yesterday). We were even able to sit on the porch for cocktails! And, we enjoyed a splendid display of light during a thunderstorm on Saturday night!

    JT created the menu, and it was wonderful!

    Friday – cocktails at arrival (11pm-ish) with my home-made flat breads and a couple of dips – and of course, martinis!


    Breakfast – make ahead panettone french toast with wild blueberries and maple syrup, grapefruit and coffee

    Make ahead Panettone French Toast (a healthier adaptation of a recipe I tried at All Recipes)

    • Slice Panettone in about 2″ thick slices (I generally buy these on sale and slice and freeze  with parchment between each slice – that way, I have it ready when-ever!). One slice is enough for 2 people.
    • 2 large eggs, plus 2 egg whites
    • 1/4 cup yogurt
    • 1 tbsp maple syrup (or vanilla)
    1. On the night before, blend eggs, yogurt and maple syrup in a blender.
    2. Spray Pam (or similar) into an 8″ round cake pan and place panettone in the centre. Pour egg mixture all over the panettone and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
    3. The next morning, pre heat oven to 350F. Bake French toast for 20-30 minutes (ovens will vary, but you want a golden colour on the French toast). The eggs will puff up like a soufflé!
    4. When done, remove from pan, cut into 2 portions and serve with your favorite maple syrup and fruit!

    Lunch – Creamed roasted butternut squash soup with home-made walnut bread (Anna and Michael Olsen’s Walnut Bread recipe – I’ll post this soon)

    Eva’s Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (Check out my recipe on Foodista)

    • 1 medium Butternut squash (peeled and cut into even sized cubes)
    • 1 medium sweet onion (like vidalia), chopped into quarters.
    • 1 entire garlic, skin on
    • olive oil
    • sea salt
    • 2-4 cups of your favorite stock (I used miso for this one!)
    1. Preheat oven to 400F.
    2. In a large roasting pan, mix the butternut squash and the onion, drizzle with olive oil and sea salt.
    3. Take about 12 inches of parchment paper and place garlic in centre. Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Wrap tightly, and then wrap parchment in foil (I don’t like putting foil directly on food, but it’s up to you!). Place this package beside the roasting pan in the oven.
    4. Bake for about 45 minutes or until squash is tender and garlic is mushy.
    5. Add the squash and onion (and all the pan juices) to a glass blender and blend adding stock to desired consistency. Squeeze out garlic and add (with all the olive oil from the little package) into the squash purée and continue to blend until smooth.
    6. Pour through a fine sieve to make it creamy smooth.
    7. Enjoy (no cream in this soup, but you would never know it!.

    Dinner – Cassoulet (yep, JT made cassoulet!), Madeleines with wild blueberry yogurt sauce!

    We rendered the duck until the skin was crispy, and put it into the cassoulet whole – lots of flavour!

    • 1/2 pound pork sausage links, sliced
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons whole cloves (I found this a little too clovey, next time we’ll cut this down considerably!)
    • 1/2 whole onion, peeled
    • 1-1/2 sprigs fresh parsley
    • 1/2 sprig fresh thyme
    • 1/4 pound bacon (too much bacon, if you are adding the skin with the duck)
    • 1/2 sprig fresh rosemary
    • 1/2 pound dry navy beans, soaked overnight (we used traditional white beans instead)
    • 1/2 bay leaf
    • 1-1/2 carrots, peeled and sliced
    • 1-1/2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 pound skinned, boned duck breast halves
    • 1/2 fresh tomato, chopped

    This is a photo of the raw ingredients without the beans!

    1. In a large skillet, brown the sliced sausage over medium heat.
    2. Insert whole cloves into onion. Roll bacon up, and tie with a string. Tie together parsley, thyme, and rosemary.
    3. In a large slow cooker, place soaked beans, sausage, bacon, onion studded with cloves, fresh herbs, bay leaf, carrots, minced garlic, and duck. Add enough water to cover the other ingredients. Cook for 1 hour on HIGH. Reduce heat to LOW, and continue cooking for 6 to 8 hours. (The duck will cook and break into smaller bits – kind of like pulled pork!)
    4. Remove onion, bacon, and herbs. Stir in chopped tomatoes. Continue cooking for 1/2 hour. Serve with crusty French stick or walnut bread!

    Madeleines with Wild Blueberries and Yogurt sauce (I had to have one healthier thing this weekend!)

    Sunday Breakfast JT muffins – whole grain english muffins with a fried egg, pancetta and french goat’s milk feta cheese…YUM!

    Closing up is always a lot of work but we managed to get it all done by our 10am goal, and we were on the road again!

    Only a few trees have been bitten by the chill and have started to ripen into bursts of red in a sea of green! Soon the evening chill will take them into a long slumber until the spring when we travel this road again!

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