Tonight's Menu


  • Homemade Tomato Soup
  • Filet Mignon with Green Peppercorn and Cognac Sauce
  • Frites

Braised Veal Shank

Or more commonly known in the culinary world as "Osso Buco". However, this is my own recipe...I don't use white wine, I use red, plus I do not thicken the sauce. It's rather easy to make, just takes time. Make sure you have lots of fresh bread to dip into the sauce ! My taste tester (husband) commented that it was the best version of the well known dish he's ever had...Then again, he's biased..

Time: 2 1/2 hours
Effort: Easy
Serves 2


Ingredients
2 veal shanks (with a nice sized bone with marrow) - sides cut so they won't curl up
3 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 small sweet red pepper, diced
1 shallot, diced
1 large ripe tomato, cored and diced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
salt and coarse black pepper
1 beef bouillon cube
1 1/2 c dry red wine
3 bay leaves

Heat the oil in a medium sized shallow saucepan or skillet. Quickly saute the shanks so they are browned on both sides. Remove from pan onto a plate. Saute the shallot, celery, carrots and red peppers until they are almost cooked. Add the tomato and simmer until alot of the tomato has dissolved. Add the red wine and the bouillon cube and simmer on medium for a few minutes. Return the shanks to the pan, and add the bay leaves, then simmer on low with the cover on, for approximately 2 hours, turning the shanks over from time to time and stirring the sauce. Adjust the taste to your liking by adding salt and pepper. When the meat is almost fully cooked, mix in the tomato paste and simmer again until the meat is so tender it can be cut with a fork.
Braised Veal Shank - Served with leftover Quinoa Pilaf


Banana and Crema de Leche Loaf

Time: 45 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves 6


Ingredients
3 tbsp crema (or known as "dulce") de Leche
1 egg
2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
6 oz butter, softened
1 1/4 c self-raising flour
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup cane sugar
2 heaping tbsp plain yogurt
1/4 c heavy cream

Heat oven to 350oF. Butter and flour a loaf pan. In a large bowl or in your food processor, combine all ingredients except the nuts and crema de leche,  to form a smooth mixture. Fold in the nuts, then turn half the mixture into the loaf pan. Add 1 1/2 tbsp crema de leche and swirl with a spoon or knife. Add the remaining mixture and crema de leche, and swirl again. Bake for approx. 35 minutes or until firm and when inserting a toothpick it comes out clean. The crema de leche with settle a little on the bottom and some in the middle - this is a super tea cake or dessert served with vanilla ice cream !

(I did not take pictures because it did not survive long enough ! It got gobbled up faster than I've ever seen !)

Warm Pink Mayonnaise

Time: 5 mins
Effort: Easy!
Serves 4


Ingredients
3/4 cup mayonnaise (Hellman's or homemade is even better)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp ketchup Heinz of course)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice

Blend all ingredient with a whisk in a very small saucepan. Heat on low until warm. Voila ! (Note: For a bit of "umpff" you may add 1 tbsp horseradish to the sauce.)

Tiger Shrimp Terrines with Warm Pink Mayonnaise

Well, here is another complete experiment that (lucky for me) turned out delicious ! Usually a shrimp terrine should take some sort of white fish to make the base, but since my husband is highly allergic to fish, I decided to do something a little different...and I also did not bake them in the usual terrine dish, instead, I improvised and used ring molds. Those things are so versatile ! I truly recommend you getting some, if you don't have them already. Enough of my rambling, here is the recipe for you to enjoy !

Tiger Shrimp Terrines - Straight out of the oven !
Time: 45 minutes (approx.)
Effort: Easy
Serves 2-4


Ingredients
1 lb Tiger shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 whole egg
1 egg white
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp cream cheese
1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and coarse ground pepper
1/2 tsp butter for the ring molds

Heat oven to 350oF. Butter 4 ring molds (I use the 3" wide ones) and lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. In a food processor puree 1/2 the raw shrimp, slowly adding the egg, egg white, cream and lemon juice. Turn the mixture into a bowl. With the remaining shrimp take 2 and slice them lengthwise to make four piece. Cut the rest of the shrimp into large pieces and fold them into the puree, then salt and pepper to taste. Spoon them into the ringmolds leaving about 1/4" from the the top as they will rise while baking. Turn oven down to 325oF and bake shrimp terrines for approx. 40 minutes or until they are firm to the touch and pulled away from the sides. Note: Check them while they're baking as there will be excess fluid which you can just strain off. These are great served warm or cold, and you can even slice them onto homemade toasts.

On The Menu Tonight

___________________________________________________________
  • Mini Tiger Shrimp Terrines with Warm Pink Mayonnaise
  • Quinoa Pilaf
  • Steamed Green Beans
  • Banana Crema de Leche with Vanilla Icecream

Reminder for those who do not have a subscription!

In a couple of days, all the recipes from August/September will be removed from our index and compiled into our Second Edition PDF book. 


Only those who have a paid subscription will have access... So subscribe now if you want to keep those recipes !

Braised Mushrooms in Porto

Time: 15 mins
Effort: Easy
Serves 4


Ingredients
10-15 medium sized white mushrooms, washed and sliced thickly
1 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, sliced then quartered
1-2 tbsp Porto (Tawny)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium skillet, add shallots and mushrooms. Saute on medium to high heat, tossing frequently, until mushrooms are cooked. Add salt, pepper and Porto. Continue to saute until most of the Porto has evaporated.  Great little side dish to any roast, grilled meat or on it's own served on toast.

Braised Mushrooms in Porto Sauce

Chicken Thighs Stuffed with Spinach and 5 Cheese Sauce

This is a ridiculously easy recipe and so delicious. Also very pretty presentation - sure to impress !

Chicken Thighs Stuffed with Spinach
Time: 40-45 minutes (approx)
Effort: Very Easy
Serves 4


Ingredients
4 Chicken thighs, skin on
340g package of spinach leaves (Approx. 10 oz)
1 cup water
1 tsp salt

Turn oven on to 425oF. Blanche spinach in 1 cup boiling water - approx. 2-3 minutes. Strain, then with your hands squeeze out as much water as you can. Place the chicken thighs on a shallow baking dish, and with each one create a pocket between the skin and meat (by gently pushing your fingers through). Divide the spinach into 4 portions and stuff into each chicken pocket. Sprinkle with salt, and bake until chicken is well cooked - top will be nice and crispy. Check oven from time to time, you may have to drain off the excess fat on the bottom (I did). Serve topped with 5-cheese sauce. (See recipe below).

Chicken Thighs Stuffed with Spinach and 5 Cheese Sauce
Served here with steamed carrots and Braised Mushrooms

5 Cheese Sauce (Bechamel)
2 tbsp butter
1 heaping tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup milk or 1/2 cup each milk, light cream
1/2 cup each: grated Parmesan, Romano, Gruyere, Cheddar & Goat cheese (alot of cheese!)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, melt butter then stir in the flour, blending well. Saute for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and slowly add milk or milk & cream stirring constantly so it does not form lumps. Return to heat and simmer on medium low, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Mix in all the cheese, salt & pepper and simmer again, stirring, until cheese has melted and sauce is thick. Remove from heat and serve. Great with chicken or on your favorite fish or vegetable dish !

Baked Romanesco

This is pretty much the same recipe as baked Asparagus, or Cauliflower, Broccoli etc. But I thought I post it again since you may not have seen the previous ones.

Baked Romanesco
Time: 25 mins
Effort: Easy
Serves 4


Ingredients
1/2 a large romanesco or 1 whole small one, broken into flowerettes
4 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp salt
1/2 toasted bread crumbs

Steam the romanesco until cooked but not too soft - crisp is always better. Turn oven to 395o. In a baking dish, arrange romanesco flowerettes evenly. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and salt. Drizzle with melted butter and bake until the top is browned.

Medley Mash

Ok, remember I said that I often open my fridge and see what's in it ? Well that's exactly what I did last night... The chops were in the freezer, so were the scallops and one (sadly) large tiger shrimp. Plus I had leftover mashed butternut squash with sweet potatoes and some leftover steamed Romanesco (not even enough for one person)... So I decided to make this "Medley Mash" and it was delicious ! For the recipe I show all the ingredients because you probably won't have those leftovers in your fridge... Or maybe you will ? Note: If you don't have Romanesco at home, no worries, you can substitute it with Broccoli or Cauliflower, or skip them all together. This is a great little recipe to make potato fritters !

Medley Mash
Time: 20 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves 2


Ingredients
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered and boiled until soft
1/2 butternut squash - peeled and seeds removed, then cut into chunks
4-5 Romanesco flowerettes (or Broccoli or Cauliflower)
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp salt

Steam the squash and romanesco until very well cooked and soft. In a saucepan, add the boiled sweet potatoes, squash and romanesco. Mash with a potato masher, then add butter, cream and salt and mash again. Scrape the sides with a wooden spoon and blend. The "mash" should be lumpy !

Honey Glazed Sea Scallops with Mustard Hoisin Dipping Sauce

Sea scallops are a wonderful gift from our oceans - their flavour is so delicate and almost sweet. This is a great dish on its own or serve as an appetizer on little oriental spoons drizzled with the sauce.


Time: 10 mins
Effort: Easy
Serves 2


Ingredients
8-10 large sea scallops
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp butter

Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard

Lay sea scallops on several paper towels and pat dry. Sprinkle salt and garlic powder all over. Heat the butter in a medium skillet until almost smoking hot. Add half the scallops and quickly sear on all sides (they should be quite browned). Cook no longer than a couple of minutes or else they will be overcooked and rubbery ! Remove them onto a plate, and repeat with the rest of the scallops. Turn heat to medium and add honey to the remaining butter in the pan and quickly stir. Turn heat off, and return scallops to the pan, stirring quickly to ensure each one is coated with honey. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Sauce: Mix hoisin and Dijon mustard until well blended and creamy. Easy !
Honey Glazed Sea Scallops with Mustard Hoisin Dipping
Sauce (not shown)

Grilled Hotel Style Pork Chops encrusted with Mustard Seeds

Grilled Hotel Style Pork Chops encrusted with Mustard Seeds
served with Honey Glazed Sea Scallops, Medley Mash
Baked Romanesco
Time: 20 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves 2


Ingredients
2 Hotel style pork chops - 1" thick
2 tbsp mustard seeds
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil - for grilling

Light BBQ to high. Place chops on a plate and rub with salt, then mustard seeds on both sides, pressing down firmly. When grill is very hot, add chops and lightly drizzle with oil to flame a bit. Watch carefully ! Close cover and grill for approximately 5 minutes, then turn and grill for another 5 minutes - chops will be pink on the inside. Grill longer for a more cooked chop. Remove and serve immediately. Yummy !!

Last Night's Menu


  • Grilled Hotel Style Pork Chops encrusted with Mustard Seeds
  • Honey Glazed Sea Scallops
  • Mustard & Hoisin Dipping Sauce
  • Medley Mash
  • Baked Romanesco

Spicy & Cheesy Bolognese Sauce


(I did not take this picture)

This was a complete experiment last night, which I made for a family dinner and everyone said it was delicious !

Time: Approx. 1 1/2 hours
Effort: Easy
Serves 6-8


Ingredients
1 lb lean ground beef
2 shallots, coarsely chopped (or 1 medium onion)
3 carrots, diced small
3 celery stalks, diced small
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup milk
1 plus 1/2 cup Italian tomato sauce (unsalted, unspiced)
1 small can (5 oz) tomato paste
Salt & pepper to taste
Dried oregano (optional)
1 tbsp dried chili peppers
1 cup shredded parmesan or romano cheese

In a medium saucepan, saute onions, carrots and celery until golden. Add ground beef and simmer, covered until meat looks cooked. Add milk and simmer again until most of the milk has been absorbed. Add tomato paste, 1 cup tomato sauce, chili pepper, salt and pepper and oregano. Simmer on very low, with the cover on for approximately 1 hour - stirring from time to time. The consistency should be medium thick - if it is too thick, add another 1/2 cup or so of tomato sauce or water, whichever you prefer. Mix in the cheese and simmer for another 10 - 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and blended into the sauce.

Sauteed Potatoes with Portobello Mushrooms and Peas

Sauteed Potatoes with Portobello Mushrooms
and Peas

Time: 20 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves 4


Ingredients
4 medium sized red or white potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into wedges
2 cups frozen baby green peas
3 large portobello mushrooms, thickly sliced
2 shallots, sliced
1/4 cup water
1 beef bouillon cube
1 tbsp olive oil

In a medium saucepan, saute shallots in olive oil until transparent, add potato wedges and sautee with cover on for approximately 10 minutes, mixing from time to time. Add water and bouillon cube, cover and simmer until most of the water has evaporated and the potatoes are almost cooked. Add mushrooms and peas, then simmer for another 10 minutes until mushrooms are tender and peas are cooked. (No need to add any more water as the frozen peas as well as mushrooms have their own water).

Crisp Pork Loin

There are lots of types of pork roasts, however my favorite is the loin roast (boneless or not), which is lean on the inside with just the right amount of fat on the outside.
Boneless Pork Loin for Roasting
For this recipe I used the boneless kind, all fat trimmed off except the fat on the top. Then I "butterflied" it and laid it flat. You can use this method with most types of loin roasts, including lamb, and you can use this method to add stuffing if you like. This time I did not. Click this link to watch a video on how to butterfly a loin roast (this chef removes most of the top fat... I don't) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggLP60GMXeQ&feature=related

Here's the recipe:

Time: 1 1/2 hours (or more)
Effort: Easy
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 small boneless pork loin roast
2-4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp oil - such as canola
1/2 cup dry white wine

Turn oven on to 425o. On a large cutting board, butterfly your roast (as shown in the video) and lay flat. Sprinkle with 2-3 tsp salt and sub all over top and bottom. In a shallow baking dish, sprinkle oil and remaining salt. Lay the roast flat in the dish, with the fat facing upward. Bake in oven for approx. 45 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce the heat to 395 and add wine scraping the bottom of the dish so that it starts to form a sauce with the wine, baste the roast. Return to oven and bake for another 25 minutes or until the top is crisp and the meat very tender. 
Crisp Pork Loin


Braised Red Cabbage

This recipe is quite common in eastern European countries, and of course there are many variations - some are sweeter than others, some use more onions etc. This one is my late Mom's and I love it. It's usually best eaten a day later so the juices can blend. Great with any kind of roast !
Braised Red Cabbage alongside Sauteed Potatoes, Peas and
Portobello Mushrooms


Time: 30 - 45 mins
Effort: Easy
Serves 4


Ingredients
1 small red cabbage
1 medium sized onion, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp caraway seeds
2 -3 tbsp cane sugar (white is ok too)

Cut cabbage into quarters and cut out the core and the base. Then thinly slice each quarter and place in a large glass bowl (I don't recommend a plastic bowl as red cabbage can leave a red stain!). Pour in the vinegar, saving 1 tbsp. Drizzle with salt and caraway seeds, mix well and let sit.

In a medium saucepan, saute the onions in the oil until golden. Remove from heat and mix in the sugar. Return to heat and let bubble for about 5-10 minutes so that the sugar has melted. Careful not to burn it ! Remove from heat, strain the sliced cabbage and then add it to the onions. Mix well and simmer on med/low with cover on for approximately 15 - 25 minutes, stirring from time to time. Taste - the cabbage should be tender and the flavor should be a rich sweet & sour. Adjust the salt / sugar/ vinegar to your liking.



Asian Beef and BBQ Stir-Fry

As I said yesterday, dinner would be my own version of Asian...and it was. I had a couple of steaks - two different kinds, but no matter. (One was beef tenderloin and the other a strip loin). The veggies I had in my fridge were: Romanesco, Cauliflower, Yellow Peppers, Spring Onions, Shallots and Tomatoes. So I decided to use all of them except the tomatoes and shallots, and since I really did not feel like eating anything greasy, I stir-fried the veggies on the barbecue in a BBQ basket. It was delicious! (Oh, and I also had some frozen Asian dumplings in the freezer, which I threw into the stir-fry at the last minute. Great idea !)
Asian Beef and BBQ Stir-Fry with Dumplings

Here's the recipe:

Time: 25 mins
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2


Ingredients
2 steaks (preferably lean) approx. 3/4 " thick
1/4 cup each: Hoisin Sauce and Soy Sauce
2 tbsp cane sugar
3 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds (I like the black & white ones)
1 cup each: Cauliflower, Romanesco, Yellow Peppers - cut into medium sized pieces
2 spring onions sliced cross-wise
1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts
1/2 cup salted cashews
4 frozen Asian dumplings (optional)
water for spraying or sprinkling

In a shallow dish, blend the Hoisin and Soy sauce with 1 tbsp cane sugar, 2 tsp garlic powder and 1 tsp sesame oil. Place the steaks in the dish and coat them generously with the marinade.

In a medium sized bowl, add all the vegetables and cashews except the spring onions. Drizzle with olive oil, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp garlic powder and salt. Toss.

Heat BBQ to medium and place your grilling basket on the grill for a few minutes with the cover closed, to warm it up. Add the vegetable mixture and spray or sprinkle a few drops of water on top (this will create a steaming effect). Close BBQ cover and grill for approx. 5 minutes, then open cover and toss with a slotted spoon. Repeat about 3 times (15 minutes or so) then add the dumplings and grill, tossing a couple of times. Using oven mitts, remove basket and place vegetables & dumplings in a warmed serving dish.

Turn BBQ to high, and when well heated, add steaks. Grill with cover open, for approximately 5 minutes on each side (I like my steaks rare). (Grill longer for a more cooked steak - refer to grilling chart http://bestbbqguide.com/bbq-cooking-chart/). Remove from grill and place on a warmed plate. Take the remaining marinade and heat it up in a small saucepan until boiling (that way any meat juices will be cooked) and until slightly thickened. Slice the steaks and drizzle with sauce, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with the stir-fry, garnished with sliced spring onions.

Sushi Night !

Sushi...I just love it ! It's an acquired taste for some. Natural for others. And some hate it. I had my first sushi platter while visiting Granville Island, Vancouver for my first time in the late 1980's (that long ago ??). In those days sushi was not popular in Montreal at all, however when I returned, to my delight I discovered a new restaurant on what we call "The Main", (or on Boulevard Saint Laurent), called "Le Sushi Bar". It was a rather small restaurant, devoted to only sushi, decorated in black marble, with black mirrors and a long sushi "bar". I quickly became a regular - frequenting the restaurant at least twice a month - which meant I had my own "dedicated" chopsticks on their "wall of fame".

It was then that I became good friends with master sushi chef Tri Du. A tiny little man, extremely funny and more creative than anyone I've met in the sushi world.
http://hour.ca/2006/08/03/flying-fishy-tales/
Over the years I have watched him prepare his sushi, sashimi, special salads and tempura and have in the past few years ventured to make my own. While my are a far cry from his, they are nevertheless pretty good for an amateur ! Here are some pictures from the sushi I made this weekend, but I will not attempt to teach you how to make them. You are better off learning by watching a good video - there are many on google or by getting yourself a good Japanese cookbook.

Sushi (Home made) with Tempura

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Mash

I love squash - all kinds, don't you ? Except I hate peeling them. But there is more than one way to peel them: You can peel them raw (the most difficult), you can bake them slowly and remove the skin or you can steam them. In the latter two, you need to cut the squash lengthwise in two and remove the seeds. In the first way (raw) the best way is to stand it up and holding firmly with one hand, with the other hand slice downwards with a sharp knife to remove the skin. Sounds a bit tedious...and it is! However that is the best way if you want to cut it into chunks and steam or boil after. All three methods work well with almost any kind of squash.

In this recipe I paired up the butternut squash with sweet potato to add a firmer consistency. I also added one shallot to "spice" up the flavor.

Ingredients
1 butternut squash, peeled while raw and seeded, cut into large chunks
1 large sweet potato peeled and cut into large chunks
1 medium shallot, quartered
1 tbsp butter
salt to taste
1/3 cup heavy cream

In a large saucepan with steaming basket, fill with water just enough to reach a little lower than the basket. Add all the vegetables and steam with cover on until they are very tender. Drain off water and return vegetables into the saucepan. Add butter, cream and salt, then mash with a potato masher until smooth but a little chunky.

Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Mash
Served with Roast Chicken & Romanesco

Steamed Romanesco

What is it ? Well if you look at it, it looks like a strange form of broccoli or cauliflower. When I first saw one I thought it looked kind of pre-historic or from outer space. When I tried it, raw, at the market I just fell in love with the flavor - which resembles a bit of a broccoli and a bit of a cauliflower except much sweeter. My favorite way to cook it, is by simply steaming it until it's tender. Then smother in melted butter, that way none of the nutrients are lost and neither is the flavor.

Here's a factful link about this strange looking creature http://planetgreen.discovery.com/food-health/romanesco-cauliflower.html

Romanecso

Roast Chicken Stuffed with Brie, Sundried Tomato and Yellow Peppers

As promised in my Facebook "sneak preview" here's the recipe. Somehow even though we are technically still in "summer", it's chilly enough for me that I feel we are already in "autumn"...even the light and angle of the sun has changed. Though I love autumn and the changing of the leaves & great colors I am sad to see summer gone so quickly as I am definitely a summer / beach person. (Why on earth then, do I live in a northern climate ? Hmm..hopefully that will change sooner than later!). All this bla bla bla just to say that with autumn, my recipe repertoire will change. From BBQ's, light salads and summer cold soups and veggies, to a slightly "warmer" fare, such as roasts, more root vegetables and stews as well as heartwarming soups. Of course I will still use my BBQ as I do all winter long - even in a snow storm ! So, here is the first of my "autumn" recipes to warm your heart.

Roast Chicken Stuffed with Brie, Sundried Tomato
and Yellow Peppers. Ready to go in the oven !

Time: 2 hours (more or less)
Effort: Easy
Serves: 4

Ingredients
1 medium sized roasting chicken
1 long, sweet yellow pepper seeded, top cut off and cut into 4 strips
4 large sundried tomatoes packed in oil
1 large wedge of brie (cheese), rind trimmed off
1/4 cup quinoa
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried rosemary
salt, coarse pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine

Heat oven to 395o. Take a medium to large roasting pan and drizzle the olive oil on the bottom. Take the whole chicken and cut straight down the back so that you can flatten it with your palms. At the base of the breast (where it meets the opening of the chest cavity) lift the breast skin and push your fingers inside so that you make another cavity or pocket between the breast meat and the skin - gently so that you don't rip the skin. You can go as far as the sides of the legs. Place the chicken in the roasting pan, chest facing upward. Make 4 large slices out of the brie and slip 2 slices on either side of the new pockets you just made. Top each side with 2 sundried tomatoes and 2 strips of yellow pepper. Close the opened pockets at the base with a toothpick. Sprinkle salt, pepper, quinoa and rosemary generously all over the chicken and into the roasting pan. Roast uncovered until the chicken is well cooked and quite browned. (Approximately 1 1/2 hours, give or take). Remove chicken from roasting pan and add white wine. With a metal spoon scrape the bottom of the pan so that it mixes well with the wine, taste and perhaps add more seasoning. Return to oven to keep warm.
Just out of the oven!

Asparagus and Potato Gratin

As you may have noticed, I cook frequently with asparagus. I just love them (mind you, I am a huge veggie lover in general) - green or white ones, though some people find the white ones too bitter, and yes, they are also more expensive and harder to find! These great vegetables are so versatile and extremely nutritious http://www.asparagus.org/maab/nutrition.html . I use them in soups, on their own, with other vegetables, in stews and even eat the green variety raw. I do tend to prefer the thicker stalked ones, but the thin ones do make lovely presentations.

Here is another easy, nutritious recipe for you to try !

Asparagus and Potato Gratin
Time: 25 mins
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2-4


Ingredients
2 bunches green asparagus, washed & ends trimmed off
4 baby or new potatoes
2 tbsp butter plus 1 tsp
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup plain toasted breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated cheese such as Romano, Gruyere or Parmesan
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Heat oven to 400o. Butter a medium sized baking dish with the 1 tsp butter. Steam or boil the potatoes until tender. Strain and set aside. Steam asparagus until crisp or "al dente". Lay the asparagus spears neatly on the bottom of the baking dish, then place thick slices of potatoes on top. Drizzle with cream then sprinkle breadcrumbs and cheese over the top along with the salt and pepper. Dot the top with bits of butter (2 tbsp) and bake until the top is nicely browned.

Goulash Soup (Gulyasleves)

Most people already know how famous the Hungarian Goulash is. It could almost be considered as the Hungarian national dish, though I'm not certain, for the Hungarians make lots and lots of fabulous dishes that are not well known. That being said, "goulash" is a very easy and tasty kind of "stew" - and I may add that the recipes you will see on the internet and in books may vary slightly because the recipes are handed down from generation to generation. Plus, as we "cooks" or "chefs" know - we tend to add our own touch to any recipe we make! A goulash soup, or Gulyasleves is made in the exact same manner as any goulash, except that it usually contains meat (either pork or beef), lots of vegetables, water of course, and sometimes Hungarian dried sausage which is called "Kolbasz" - of which there are two kinds: The spicy variety is called "Csabai" (pronounced tcha-ba-y) and the non spicy is "Dyulai" (pronounced dyoo-la-y) http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/hungariansausages/a/hungariansausag.htm

In Montreal there are several places where one can buy Hungarian sausages, Paprika and more. But I'll talk about that later. Here is the recipe for Goulash Soup ~ Enjoy !

Goulash Soup - Gulyasleves
Time: Approx. 1 hour
Effort: Easy
Serves: 4-6


Ingredients
1 large onion (or two shallots) chopped
1 cup each (or two halves) red pepper, green pepper (or yellow pepper) - not spicy peppers !
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1/2 lb stewing beef or pork cubes
1/2 cup each  diced carrots, celery, parsnips (I also use turnips or yellow beets at times)
1 large tomato, diced or 4-6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Hungarian non-spicy dried sausage (Dyulai), sliced
2 heaping tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika (not the spicy kind)
2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 cups water
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
Sour cream or plain yogurt

In a large pot, saute the onions and peppers in olive oil until transparent. About 3-4 minutes. Add meat and paprika, then stir to coat all over. Saute for approx. 15 - 20 minutes. Add tomatoes and 1 cup water, salt & pepper. Cover and simmer on medium until meat is almost tender. Remember to stir from time to time ! Add the vegetables, caraway seeds and 1 cup water, stir and simmer again for another 15 -20 minutes until meat is tender. ( Cooking time may be a little longer) Stirring from time to time. Add the sausage, and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Serve with 1 tbsp sour cream on top. This is a fabulous and hearty soup - my favorite comfort food - great for dipping a fresh baguette into, and you can even make it meat-less if you want !

Potato Goulash (Paprikas Krumpli)

Alright, so yesterday I mentioned that the night before last I made Potato Goulash. So here is the recipe. It's so easy, it's ridiculous ! In June (I think) I posted a recipe for Cauliflower Goulash, and told you that you can make a "goulash" out of almost anything. Well, infact you can, if you want !

Time: 20 minutes or so
Effort: Very easy
Serves: 4-6


Ingredients
8-10 "new" or baby potatoes, peeled (or 5 large potatoes, peeled and quartered)
1/2 of one green pepper and 1/2 of one red pepper cut into chunks (I used yellow peppers for their color)
2 shallots, chopped
1 large tomato cut into large pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp Hungarian Paprika
Salt & pepper to taste
Sour cream for garnish (You can use plain yogurt instead)

In a large saucepan, saute shallots & green peppers for a few minutes. Add potatoes and cover, sauteing for approximately 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add paprika and stir again so that the potatoes are well covered, then add the tomatoes, salt & pepper. Turn heat to medium low, cover the saucepan and simmer, stirring once in a while to ensure the bottom does not burn. Cook until potatoes are tender and most of the tomatoes have melted into a sauce. Serve as is with sour cream on top. This dish is great by itself or as a side dish to any meat, poultry or fish.

Crab Salad

Crab Salad with Multiple Greens, Warm Dressing
Time: 20 mins
Effort: Easy
Servings: 1

Ingredients


1 can of crabmeat in chunks
4 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
coarse pepper
salt to taste
2 rashers of bacon (optional)
Croutons
1 egg, hard boiled (optional)
1 radish (optional)
4-5 lettuce greens, broken into pieces

Remove crabmeat from the can and with your hands squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. Place in a small bowl and mix in 2 tbsp of mayonnaise, a little salt and pepper and 1 tbsp lemon juice. On a dinner plate place a ring mold and scoop all the crab mixture inside, pressing firmly down with the back of a spoon. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, mix remaining mayonnaise, yogurt, 1 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and warm on low.

Arrange lettuce nicely around the ringmold, drizzle with the warmed dressing, and sprinkle with croutons. Gently remove the ring mold by pulling upwards, roll up the bacon and place on top. Decorate with halved hard boiled egg and radish. Drizzle remaining olive oil around the plate and voila !

Grilled Quail

Puree of Yellow Beets

Puree of Yellow Beets with Tomato Coulis
Time: 25 mins
Effort: Easy
Serves 4


Ingredients
1 lb small yellow beets, peeled and halved
3 cups water
1 beef bouillon cube
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp fine cane sugar
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp heavy cooking cream


In a medium saucepan, boil beets in 3 cups water with vinegar, sugar and beef cube until they are very tender. Remove from liquid and strain. In a food processor, puree the beets until very fine then add cream and salt & pepper to taste. Return to saucepan to keep warm.

Mussel and Corn Chowder with Bacon

No picture this time !


Time: 45 mins
Effort: Medium 
Serves 4-6


Ingredients
1 lb fresh mussels
2-3 cups water
1/2 cup dry white wine
plus another 1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3 large potatoes, peeled & quartered
2-3 ears of sweet corn
4-5 cups water for boiling corn & potatoes
1 tsp butter
3/4 - 1 cup heavy cooking cream
Salt & pepper to taste
4 strips of crispy bacon cut into small pieces (I used pre-cooked bacon)


Steam mussels in water and 1/2 cup wine until they are all opened. Set aside to cool. In a large saucepan boil corn for about 5-8 minutes. Remove and cool. Place potatoes in the corn water and boil until tender. Remove from water and let cool slightly. Discard remaining water, and in the same saucepan heat the chicken stock with butter. Shell the mussels placing them into the warmed chicken stock. Remove from heat. Take 4 potato quarters and cut them into small cubes, add to the stock. Puree the rest of the potatoes in a food processor until creamy, then slowly blend them into the stock mixture. With a sharp knife, slice off the corn kernels from the cobs and break them up into the soup. Add salt & pepper to taste, 1/4 cup white wine and cream. Blend well and simmer on medium low for approximately 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the bacon and simmer for another 5 minutes. 

Beef Wellington "Cocottes"

Beef Wellington Cocottes - straight out from the oven!

Beef Wellington Cocotte served with
Puree of Yellow Beets and Tomato Coulis
Time: +/- 1 hour
Effort: Medium
Serves: 4


Ingredients
1 pkg puff pastry
2 tbsp flour for rolling pastry
12 oz (approx) Beef cubes (I used beef tenderloin) - about 3/4" each
1 tbsp butter
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp canned green peppercorns (drained)
1 tsp beef bouillon concentrate
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup heavy cooking cream
Baby mushrooms
Salt & pepper to taste
Special equipment: 4 Cocottes or Ramekins


Heat oven to 400o. In a large skillet, heat butter until very hot - quickly saute beef so the cubes are slightly browned - no more than 5 minutes as they should be raw in the center. Remove from skillet and set aside to cool. In the same skillet, add the rest of the ingredients (except the pastry of course) and simmer until slightly thickened. Set aside. Roll out pastry on a flowered board, so that you have enough to make 8 squares - each square should be about 1/2" larger than the top of each cocotte or ramekin. Line each one with a square of pastry, pushing in gently with your fingertips. Fill each cocotte with a few beef cubes then a couple of spoonfuls of the sauce. Lay another square of pastry on top of each one, and with your fingers pinch the edges together. Place the cocottes on a large baking tray (as some of the sauce will boil over) and bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes or until the tops are browned. Serve as is with extra sauce around them for dipping.

Sesame Peanut Chicken with Crisp Noodles, Vegetables & Spinach

Time: 45 mins
Effort: Easy (but there are a few simultaneous steps to follow)


Ingredients
2 chicken breast halves cut into 1" cubes
3-4 tbsps canola or corn oil for frying
1 tsp each: Salt, garlic powder & white pepper
1/4 cup each: Hoisin sauce, soy sauce
1 tsp white vinegar
2 tbsp cane sugar or honey
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
1 whole sweet yellow or red pepper, cubed
1/2 cup carotts, julienned
1/2 cup salted, shelled peanuts
3-4 whole dried chile peppers broken into pieces
1/2 cup scallions cut into 1/4" slices
2 cups Chinese steam fried noodles
2 cups spinach leaves, washed (do not use baby spinach)
1 tsp canola or corn oil for spraying
1 tbsp sugar


Turn oven on to 450o. Spread parchment paper on a large baking sheet and loosely arrange spinach leaves on top. Set aside. In a large bowl, coat chicken pieces with salt, pepper and garlic. In a small bowl, mix the hoisin, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and sesame oil. In a large skillet or wok if you have one, heat 3-4 tbsp canola or corn oil until very hot. Add a few pieces of chicken and quickly fry so they are golden on all sides, then set them on a plate with paper towels to drain off the excess oil. Repeat the process with the rest of the chicken. Drain off most of the oil from frying so that you have only about 1 tbsp left, then quickly stir-fry the carotts and peppers. Add the noodles and stir-fry for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Spray or drizzle 1 tsp canola oil on the spinach and bake in the heated oven. In a medium saucepan, heat up the hoisin/soy sauce mixture until boiling and thickened, add chicken pieces, peanuts, chile peppers and sesame seeds and mix so that the chicken is well coated. Remove from heat and add scallions. Check the spinach in the oven - when they are slightly browned and crispy, remove from oven and sprinkle with sugar. Serve the chicken over the noodles with spinach on the side. 


Really Good Hot & Sour Soup (My Way)

Time: 20 mins
Effort: Easy


Ingredients
4 cups water or 4 cups beef/chicken stock
1 beef / chicken  bouillon cube (Knorr is best)
1/2 cup each: Julienned carotts, bamboo shoots (canned)
1 cup leaf spinach, broken into large pieces
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 chicken breast, skinned and cut into thin strips
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsp cane sugar
2 tbsp white vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 tsp fine white or black pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup scallions, finely sliced
1/4 cup water to mix with 1 heaping tbsp cornstarch
1 egg beaten


In a medium saucepan, bring the 4 cups water with bouillon cube to a rolling boil. Add vegetables and chicken and let boil gently for approx. 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, pepper, salt and garlic powder, then add them to the bouillon and stir well. While on low heat, but still boiling slowly add the cornstarch/water mixture, stirring constantly until thickened. While still gently boiling, slowly drizzle in the beaten egg while mixing to form thin threads. Let boil for another 2 minutes so that egg is cooked. If soup gets too thick, add a bit of water. Remove from heat and serve. 

Pork Loin Roasted in Cream with Shallots

Time: 1 1/2 hours
Effort: Medium


Ingredients
1 pork loin roast to serve 4-6 (Approx. 16 oz) , barded (fat on or added on with string)
6 garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
6-8 shallots peeled, left whole
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
salt & coarse black pepper


Turn oven to 395o. Place pork roast in a large baking dish. With a sharp paring knife, pierce roast in evenly to make little "pockets" and insert a garlic sliver into each slit, pressing firmly so they enter the meat. Drizzle with oil and 1/2 cup cream. Salt generously. Place shallots around the roast. Bake in oven, basting every 1/2 hour or so until roast is slightly browned and well cooked. Remove from oven and add the rest of the cream and coarse pepper (quite alot), mix the cream into the pan juices and return to oven for another 5-10 minutes. (Shown here served with sauteed multi-colored carotts and baby potatoes).

Pork Chops with Rosemary and Roast Sweet Potatoes

Time: 40 mins
Effort: Easy


Ingredients
4 Pork Loin Chops, bone in
1 large clove garlic
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves pulled off
salt & coarse black pepper
1-2 tbsp olive oil
4 sweet potatoes, skin on
2 tbsp olive oil
salt


Turn oven on to 400o. Cut sweet potatoes cross-wise into 1 1/2" chunks. Arrange evenly in a baking dish and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, sprinkle with salt and bake for approx. 20-40 minutes until cooked and browned. No need to turn them !


While the potatoes are baking, place chops on a shallow dish and drizzle with 1-2 tbsp olive oil, then smear with rosemary on all sides. Turn BBQ on to high, grill chops so they are well browned on both sides - do not overcook! Approx. 5-6 minutes or less per side. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with salt and coarse black pepper, garnish with roast sweet potatoes.

Spinach Salad with Warm Prosciutto and Bacon Dressing (Home made croutons)

Time: 20 mins
Effort: Medium


Ingredients (Salad & Dressing)
1 bag of leaf spinach, washed and broken into large pieces
7-8 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
7-8 slices prosciutto cut into small pieces
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese


In a small skillet fry the prosciutto and bacon in 1 tsp olive oil until very crisp. Remove the bacon and prosciutto from the fat with a slotted spoon and lay them on paper towels to absorb excess. In a medium deep bowl, pour in the leftover fat from frying, add lemon juice, vinegar, salt, pepper and heavy cream. With a wire whisk, mix well until well blended and smooth, then pour into a small saucepan and warm on low. Set aside and grate the cheese into a small bowl.


Home Made Croutons
4 slices day-old bread or 1/2 a french baguette, cut into 1" squares.
1/4 cup olive oil for drizzling - or better still spraying if you have a spray bottle
salt


Turn oven on to "broil". Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and place bread pieces evenly on top. Drizzle or spray with oil, then lightly salt. Broil for a couple of minutes (watching carefully!) until golden, then remove from oven and flip them over with a spatula and return to oven. Repeat the process until evenly brown all over. Remove from oven.


In a large salad bowl, add the spinach and bacon/prosciutto. Drizzle with warm sauce and add croutons. Mix with salad spoons until well coated. Sprinkle Romano cheese on top and serve!

Baby Corn & Hearts of Palm Salad

Time: 10 mins
Effort: Easy


Ingredients
1 can of baby corn either in pieces or whole, drained
1 can hearts of palm, drained
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp celery seed1
1 tsp oive oil
1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley


In a medium sized bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the lemon juice and seasonings, oil and parsley (keeping a little for garnish). If you are using the whole lengths of corn, cut them into small pieces and do the same with the hearts of palm. Blend them into the mayonnaise mixture until well coated and garnish with the remaining parsley.

Veal / Pork Rolls

Time: 25 mins
Effort: Easy


Ingredients
1/4 lb lean ground pork
1/4 lb lean ground veal
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup toasted breadcrumbs
1 tbsp dried thyme 
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 up olive oil


In a bowl, mix the pork, veal and the rest of the ingredients until very well incorporated. Use your hands it's great fun ! Again with your hands, roll them into thick cigars or "rolls" about 3" long. Place in a shallow dish and drizzle with olive oil. Turn BBQ on to medium and grill each roll, turning frequently until firm to the touch. These are great as a main dish or as appetizers with your favorite dipping sauce.

Peppered Strip Loin Steaks

Time: 15 mins
Effort: Easy


Ingredients
2-4 strip loin steaks about 3/4 to 1" thick, fat on
1 tbsp coarse ground pepper
Dash of course sea salt
Oil for grilling


Light BBQ to high. Meanwhile, with a sharp knife, cut strips into the side fat so it won't shrink while grilling, then generously spread the pepper on each side of the steaks - about 1 tbsp per steak. DO NOT SALT! When grill is very hot, place the steaks and dribble a little oil (such as Canola - not olive) over each one so the grill flames. Be careful though and don't put too much oil ! Do not close cover. Grill for approx. 5 minutes per side. Remove and sprinkle lightly with coarse sea salt.