Posts Tagged ‘Main Course’

Lazy is all. Lazy lazy lazy. I’ve been cooking, just too damn lazy to write about it. Here is a wonderful fish stew recipe I made yesterday (made it up on the fly, actually, so the measures are a little loosey goosey! Whichever way you make it, these flavour combos will not fail).

Fish Stew (serves 3-4)

1lb firm white fish (Cod, Haddock, Tilapia or a combo of, the more the merrier)
1/2 lb of uncooked shrimp with shell on
1/2 large Mayan onion chopped coarsely, or 1 cooking onion
2-4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped, minced finely
1-2 finely sliced Cubano peppers (sweet not hot, but it’s your choice)
1 tsp White Miso Paste in 2 cups of hot water (this is intentionally not strong)
1/2 tsp saffron
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (I used sweet, but it’s your choice)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste (note that the miso is salty, so you may wish to salt at the end)

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan (I used a well seasoned cast iron pot, so I needed only 1 tbsp).
  2. Add onion and sauté until soft.
  3. Add saffron and smoked paprika, heat through gently being careful not to burn the paprika.
  4. Add cubano peppers (don’t overcook, they still need to have a bit of a crunch).
  5. Cut fish into 1-2 inch cubes, add to onion and sauté.
  6. Add shrimp, shell on (this adds flavour).
  7. Add garlic and gently sauté (if you add it sooner, it may burn)
  8. Add miso stock and cover and simmer until fish is done (10-15 minutes, depending on how thick you sliced them). The shrimp should be pink.
  9. Remove shrimp and let cool slightly. Remove shells completely and return to pot, heat through.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a crusty French loaf or something heavier like sour dough bread….really really yummy.


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We rented a car and drove down to see Paul and T in Yorkville, Illinois, arriving around cocktail hour on Friday, December 28th. 9.5 hours! It was due to boarder complications (frankly, I think they take their time with each car on purpose, because they can!) and weather (at one point around Flint, we averaged about 30km/hr because of snow).

We shopped and shopped some more – outlet stores, more outlet stores and then there were the outlet stores. 1 pair of boots and 2 pairs of shoes later (2 for JT too!) we were almost done!! On Sunday we all ventured downtown to the Talbott Hotel a lovely boutique hotel down by the John Hancock Tower and Water Tower Place (where Oprah lives). We shopped at the infamous Filine’s Basement (which is on the second floor) and on Michigan Avenue. For lunch, Paul and T took us to the world famous Billygoat Tavern (made famous on Saturday night live – remember the cheezeburger skit?) We had burgers, yes, even me! Actually, I didn’t have much choice…the serving/cooking guy is just like the one in the skit, kinda pushy but friendly too! It was fun!


See Photos of our trip here Chicago Trip December 2007.

In the evening, Paul and T generously took us to the Signature Room at the top of the John Hancock tower. It was magnificent! I had the Cured Tuna Carpaccio and Seared Scallops (which were HUGE!). It really was lovely! Thank you Paul and T!!!

OK, so here is the menu for New Year’s Eve 2007-8. It’s An Appetite for Europe, hitting countries at we’ll be visiting in May with Paul and T (in approximately the same order!).


Course 1: Austria
Bunderfleisch mit Brot-Stöcken (air-dried beef with bread sticks)


makes 4 per person

16 bread sticks
8 slices of air dried beef, or proscuito sliced lengthwise in the centre
16 stems of baby arugula

Wrap each bread stick with bunderflieisch, adding the arugula at the very top.
Serve on a platter.

Course 2: Hungary
Töltöt Paprika (stuffed peppers) makes 1/2 pepper per person

1/2 cup cooked white rice
200g lean ground beef
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp hungarian paprika (hot or sweet)
1 tsp salt or to taste


  1. Finely chop the onion and sauté until translucent, add finely chopped garlic and continue to sauté for about a minute. Add beef and sauté until cooked. Add the cooked rice and about 1/4 of the canned chopped tomatoes.
  2. Cut tops of peppers off, and clean out the insides. Stuff each pepper with about 1/2 of the meat filling.
  3. Put peppers into a shallow oven proof dish, cover with remaining canned tomatoes and bake until peppers are soft but still hold their shape (1/2 hr at 350F).

Course 3: Italy
Confit della cipolla e pizza di formaggio delle capre (onion confit pizza with goats cheese) (not my photo) makes 1 small pizza

1 proofed bread dough, rolled very thinly
1/4 cup onion confit (slow roasted onions until golden and sweet)
1/4 cup goats cheese
4-5 leaves of arugula


  1. Bake thinly rolled dough in a very hot oven 425F until golden on one side.
  2. Flip dough and cover with the onion confit.
  3. Crumble the goats cheese on top.
  4. Bake for about 12-15 minutes until cheese is melting and dough is crispy.
  5. Rip the arugula on top and allow to wilt. Cut and serve hot.

Course 4: Italy (slightly unplanned as Paul and T had this at the Signature Room and wanted to know how to make them)
Parmesan Tuiles


About 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (the store bought kind works too, NOT lite)


  1. Preheat broiler to 450F.
  2. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a large cookie sheet.
  3. Spread the grated parmesan evenly about 2mm thick.
  4. for 8-10 minutes, broil until the cheese bubbles and turns slightly golden (if it’s not golden it will not crack). Watch this part it can burn easily.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  6. Break appart to form bite-sized pieces.

Course 5: France
Beef Bourguignon (beef stew) Martha Stewart Recipe


Course 7: Switzerland (out of order since we’ll be going to Switzerland for the day before we get into France!)
Swiss Chocolate truffles (no photo)

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It’s Wednesday, and all I am thinking is what the heck was I thinking booking a dinner party for 8 on a week night?!?! What the HECK? I have 3 couples arriving between 6:30 and 7 tonight and I work until 5pm!!! What the HECK? Fortunately, I have the greatest husband in the world and he helped me prep last night. Table is set, food is ready to be cooked, and the fireplace is ready to be lit. Oh, did I mention I have an 8am meeting in Mississauga with a new client on Thursday? What the HECK?

Because the dinner party sort-of ballooned to 8, I am keeping it simple: 3 courses only (I’m thinking I’d love to throw in a soup course, but it ain’t gonna happen so late in the game – plus JT would kill me).

Munchies: Cheddar shortbread and Cheese sticks

Beginning: Bloody Mary Shrimp in Chinese Spoons (Epicurious Recipe), I generally modify to suit – this photo is mine! – I use whole shrimp with tails on, presentation is much nicer! You can also do this in shot glasses, resting the shrimp on the rim! Yum!


Middle: Beef tenderloin with Port Wine Sauce, horse radish whipped potatoes, green beans with onion confit

End: Molten chocolate cake (really really easy – Michael Smith recipe from FoodTV.ca) , cherry sauce and irish cream whipped cream and coffee/tea.

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This past weekend my niece Laura (John’s sister’s daughter) came down from London to do some shopping with me. I tested a dinner menu that we will be serving on the 19th. This is quite possibly the BEST beef I have EVER had. The small 750g beef was $33.00!!!! But really worth it.

Photo and recipe from Epicurious.

Beef tenderloin in a port wine sauce


1 4- to 5-pound trimmed whole beef tenderloin, tail end tucked under, tied every 3 inches
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
3 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
1 cup ruby or tawny Port (or a really good heavy red wine)
Beef Stock

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons black peppercorns, coarsely cracked in mortar with pestle or in resealable plastic bag with mallet

For beef:
Sprinkle entire surface of beef tenderloin with coarse kosher salt. Place beef on rack set over large rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate uncovered at least 24 hours and up to 36 hours.

For sauce:
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add shallots; sauté until soft, 3 minutes. Add Cognac, rosemary, and 1 teaspoon cracked pepper and cook until liquid evaporates, 1 minute. Add Port; bring to simmer. Add all of beef stock. Boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes. Strain into medium saucepan, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids in strainer. DO AHEAD: Can be made 24 to 36 hours ahead. Cool slightly, then cover and chill.

For roasting:
Let beef stand at room temperature 1 hour before roasting. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Rub beef all over with oil; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cracked peppercorns, pressing to adhere. Return beef to rack on baking sheet and roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat registers 125°F for medium-rare (135°F to 140°F in thinnest part), about 30 minutes. Remove roast from oven and let rest 15 minutes.

Bring sauce to boil; whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut off string from roast. Cut roast crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; arrange on platter. Serve with sauce.

TEST-KITCHEN TIP: Salting in advance, also called dry brining, is often done to improve the texture of sinewy cuts of meat. But it also works magic on tender cuts, amping up flavor and juiciness. It sounds counterintuitive; for years the accepted wisdom was that pre-salting dries out meat. But the moderate salting you’ll be doing here does the opposite. Water is first drawn out of the meat and then gets reabsorbed; this saltier, more flavorful moisture helps intensify taste. What’s more, the exterior of the tenderloin dries out slightly, making it quicker to brown in the oven.

Green Beans with Caramalized Shallots (From Epicurious)
2 pounds haricots verts or slender green beans, trimmed
1 pound medium shallots
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme


  1. Cook haricots verts in boiling salted water until tender, about 4 minutes (or 6 minutes if using green beans). Drain. Transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain well. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in several layers of paper towels. Seal in plastic bag and chill.
  2. Cut off and discard ends from shallots. Cut shallots lengthwise in half, then remove peel with paring knife. Melt butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low; sauté until shallots are browned and tender, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover loosely with foil and let stand at room temperature.
  3. Add haricots verts to shallots in skillet and stir over medium-high heat until heated through, about 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatos (this is my recipe)
2-3lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 large head garlic
Olive oil, sea salt

  1. Make a pouch out of parchment paper, put garlic in centre (no need to trim or cut) drizzle generously with olive oil and sea salt, and cover completely with parchment and then with foil. Roast in a hot oven 375F for 45 minutes or until garlic is really soft. Let cool slightly.
  2. Remove cloves into a blender – they should just fall out (emersion blender also works). Add olive oil that was used to roast. Add cream or milk or make a nice thick cream. Set aside.
  3. Boil potatoes until soft.
  4. Put potatoes through a potato ricer (this is important to get rid of the chunks).
  5. Whip with an electric mixer beater and add the garlic purée. Add milk or cream to achieve desired consistency.
  6. Keep whipped potatoes warm over a bain marie (a double boiler with simmering water or make one up yourself using a pyrex bowl over simmering water). This is the only way the potatoes will not dry out.

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