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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