Viking Salad

Time: 15 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

4 Romaine lettuce leaves (two from the heart or center, and two from the outside)
3 Cherry tomatoes
1 English cucumber (seedless)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tbsp coffee cream
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder or freshly grated garlic
Salt & pepper to taste
6 toothpicks (Even nicer with fancy ones)

Slice the cucumber lengthwise using a mandolin - as thin as possible. Set aside on a plate lined with paper towels. Combine the mayonnaise with the cream, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper until creamy. Cut the tomatoes in half, and each leaf of lettuce.
Gather the lettuce into a cone shape using two bottom ends and two top ends, holding it with one hand, wrap two to three cucumber slices around it and secure with three toothpicks set evenly apart. Insert 3 tomato halves around the edges and drizzle the sauce over the top and some on the serving plate.
(For a variation use some avocado strips or baby shrimp, chopped ham or prosciutto. Be creative!)

How Libby The Lobster Got In The Recipe

The last recipe I posted was "Filet Mignon with Lobster Nests" and I thought it would be worth writing a little something on how this all came about because it was not what I had originally intended at all !

My youngest son Nickolas was coming home for dinner, and for a change (!) I really wanted to impress him...especially since he loves to eat, and needless to say love to eat GOOD FOOD.

I'd taken out the Kataifi dough from the the freezer in the morning, no clue what I was going to make with them other than the fact it wasn't going to be a dessert. So I thought they would make a nice "nest" under some filet mignon steaks along with mushrooms and a sauce, but what else ? Hmm...

Nick arrived, and low and behold God bless him he came with a live lobster in hand! He took the live lobster out of his bad and instantly I said "There's Libby the Lobster!" - we all laughed like kids. We looked at each other and had the same thoughts "wonder what Walter would do with Libby if we put her on the floor ?" (Walter's our dog) So we put Libby on the kitchen floor and watched...Walter had no clue what to do...until suddenly he must have thought "yum, this smells good!" and started to nip at her claws! Very funny to watch.

Shortly after we gave Libby a bath in the kitchen sink before cooking screaming, halleluyah!

And that's how Libby the Lobster Got in the Recipe !

Filet Mignon and Lobster Nests

Time: 40 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

1 1 lb lobster, steamed, shelled and sliced
2 3 oz filet mignon steaks
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup Light soy sauce or Teryaki sauce
1 ear of fresh corn (keep the husks)
2 bunches of Kataifi dough (shredded filo pastry)
1 tbsp canola oil
8 white mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups water for boiling the corn
2 slices pre-cooked bacon cut in half

Boil corn for 5 minutes, drain and set aside in the pot with cover on to keep warm. Marinate the steaks in the worcestershire sauce and Teryaki sauce. Heat oven to 400oF. Take two bunches of Kataifi dough (about the same size as each steak) and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchement paper. Drizzle with the 2 tbsps canola oil and bake for 10 minutes or until crisp. Set aside. Saute the mushrooms in the 1 tsp olive oil until browned. Heat BBQ to high, when it is very hot, grill the steaks for approximately 3 minutes on each side for a rare steak. (See grilling chart in our links section). (Note: keep the marinade from the steaks and warm it up as a sauce to be used at the end).
Presentation: Top each mound of Kataifi with half the sauteed mushrooms, then add the steak, 2 half slices of bacon and one lobster claw. Drizzle with remaining marinade and serve with half an ear of corn along with some of the husk for decoration.

Asian Broccoli wrapped in Shredded Filo Pastry (Kataifi)

Time: 35 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

4 stems of Asian broccoli
1/3 package of Kataifi dough (shredded filo pastry that's usually used to make desserts)
2 tbsp Canola oil
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Salt to taste

Heat oven to 450oF. Using a steamer, steam the broccoli until tender. Separate into two bunches and wrap each bunch with a generous amount of Kataifi dough. Drizzle with oil, then sprinkle with salt and sesame seeds. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the Kataifi is browned and crispy. Serve immediately. (Also good served cold).

Belgian Endives Wrapped in Chicken Breasts with Oyster Mushrooms

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

2 chicken breast halves, skinned and flattened
1 large Belgian endive halved lengthwise
6 sun-dried tomatoes (oil packed)
4 large oyster mushrooms
Cracked black pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chicken bouillon concentrate
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

Heat oven to 395oF. Lay the chicken breasts on a large board then top each one with 3 sun-dried tomatoes in the center. Place each half of Belgian endive on top and firmly roll them up so that the endive and the tomatoes are completely covered. Place each roll in an oven proof dish and add the oyster mushrooms on the side. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper. Combine the chicken bouillon with the balsamic vinegar and water and drizzle over the top of the chicken and mushrooms. Bake for approximately one hour or until the chicken is golden and well cooked. (Note: Occasionally stir the sauce, you may need to add a little more water if it gets too sticky.) (Shown here served with steamed butternut squash and bacon chips).

Awesome Open Face Burgers

Time: 45 minutes
Effort: Easy (but there are a couple of steps)
Serves: 2

1/2 lb lean ground beef (or you can use skinless chicken breasts instead)
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 kaiser bun split in half (or large hamburger bun)
2 strips of pre-cooked bacon (home made or store bought) cut in half to make 4 smaller strips
8 mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp olive oil or butter
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp red pepper paste (or finely chopped red peppers)
1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese
2 lettuce leaves (I used curly lettuce)

1. If using ground beef, using a small bowl combine the beef with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce then divide in two to make the hamburger patties. Make sure you flatten them well so they won't puff up too much when grilling. (If using chicken breasts, lay them on a plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle the Worcestershire sauce over them to marinate.)
2. In another small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and the red pepper paste or chopped red peppers. Set aside.
3. Turn BBQ on high, when very hot add the hamburger patties or chicken and grill with cover open for approximately 5 minutes on each side, or until they are firm to the touch. (For chicken, grill them a little longer, flipping them a few times). (Refer to the BBQ Cooking Chart on our links page for more grilling times).
4. While the burgers or chicken are grilling, saute the mushrooms in the oil or butter until browned and set aside.
5. When the burgers or chicken are almost done, place each half bun face down on the grill to lightly brown them, then flip once just before removing the burgers.
Finale: Turn oven on to "broil". Place each half bun on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, top with lettuce, a generous amount of the mayonnaise mixture, then a hamburger patty or chicken, followed by mushrooms, bacon and shredded cheese. Broil for approximately 4 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is drooling down the sides. Serve with home fries or a nice green salad !

Mache Salad with Spinach Vinaigrette and Mapled Pecans

Time: 20 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 4

4 cups of Mache leaves*
2 cups spinach
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups Mapled Pecans

Blanche the spinach until slightly wilted, drain and squeeze out the excess liquid. Using a large cutting board, chop the spinach until it is almost a puree then turn it into a medium sized bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Whisk well until fluffy. Arrange the Mache on salad bowls or plates, drizzle with the spinach vinaigrette and top with Mapled Pecans (see next recipe).

*Mache, also known as corn salad, rapunzel, field salad, or lamb’s lettuce is a little known salad green with a mild lettuce like flavor.

Cauliflower Parmesan Flans with Mushroom Sauce

Time: 1 hour
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

1 small head of cauliflower
1 egg, beaten
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup mushrooms (white are fine), chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1/3 cup cooking cream
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt & Pepper to taste
Mache leaves or Parsley for decoration

Steam the cauliflower until very tender. Heat oven to 400oF. Grease two medium sized ring molds (you can also use "cocottes" or small ramekins) and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a food processor or blender, puree the cooked cauliflower, slowly adding the beaten egg, half a cup of the Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Fill each ring mold almost to the top, leaving a little space for cheese. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese over the top of each of them along with some extra pepper. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until they are firm to the touch and golden brown.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, saute the mushrooms with 1 tsp olive oil until browned. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper, stir, then add the cream. Using a hand blender or food processor, puree the mixture to make a thick sauce.Serve the sauce under each flan decorated with Mache or Parsley. These can be eaten hot or cold.

Recipe Resizer...a cool little tool!

Click this link to resize any of our recipes ! Nice little tool, isn't it ?

Hungarian Paprika Chicken

Time: 45 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 4-6

6 chicken thighs (or a whole chicken cut into pieces) 
1 tbsp olive oil 
1 large onion, chopped 
1 large green or red pepper or both, diced 
1 large ripe red tomato, diced 
2 heaping tbsps. Hungarian sweet Paprika 
1/4 cup chicken stock (more or less - less is better)
Salt & Pepper to taste 
Sour cream and Parsley for garnish 

In a large saucepan, saute the onion and green pepper in the olive oil. Add the chicken and brown on all sides. Add the tomato and the paprika, combining well so that all the chicken is well coated. Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper, cover and reduce heat to medium/low, simmering for approximately 45 minutes or until the sauce has been reduced and the chicken is almost falling from the bone. Stir from time to time. Serve topped with sour cream and a little chopped parsley. Goes well with home made Hungarian dumplings, otherwise known as "Galuska". 

Note: The chicken can be replaced by either beef, pork, fish or just potatoes - with pork and beef it needs to simmer longer. 

I miss Gourmet Magazine...a letter to Ruth Reichl

I don't usually write "stories" or my thoughts on my blog because I am not very good at writing. But this time I had to.
Yesterday I was musing through my cookbook shelf, and looked longingly at the few remaining "Gourmet Magazines" I had kept. Sadly thinking, why didn't I save all the copies I'd kept over the many years of being a subscriber ? I should have.
Picking out one of the copies I kept: "Special Summer Entertaining Issue - July 2009" (a few months before Conde Nast decided to fold it), I did what I used to do every time I received a new issue: I turned to the page "Letter from the editor - Ruth Reichl". Such a great writer, so down to earth.... that's when I realised for the umpteenth time in ten years how much I miss that magazine, and, Ruth Reichl. The supposed substitute for that magazine is "Bon Appetit" - in my opinion not worth the paper it's printed on. And Ruth, though I know you are still around and I read your blog and tweets, it's just not the same.

I am also not an avid reader of books, novels etc. as I am way too picky, but yesterday I picked up a copy of Ruth's book " Garlic and Sapphires".... started reading it this morning, and haven't been able to put it down. (Except for now of course as I write this). It is real, it is funny, it is true. Can't wait to read her other books!

Summer is around the corner, and I wish there would be another new issue of Gourmet Magazine in my mailbox, with a wonderful letter from the editor: Ruth Reichl.

Ruth, (if I may call you by your first name) I hope you read this with pride, wherever you are !

Grilled Spinach Cheese and Tomato Baguettes

Time: 40 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

1 thick baguette, halved lengthwise and crosswise
1 lb leaf spinach, blanched
2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
2 large red tomatoes, sliced
Salt & pepper to taste
Dried oregano or Italian herbs

Heat oven to broil. Blanch the spinach and squeeze out the liquid, then divide into 4 equal parts, laying them on top of each baguette slice. Sprinkle generously with cheese, top with tomato slices. Salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with herbs. Grill until nicely browned and the cheese has melted. Delicious served with a green salad !

Braised Lamb Shanks with Leeks & Root Vegetables

Just another braising recipe...and a delicious one too !

Time: 3 hours
Effort: Easy
Serves: 4

4 lamb shanks (bone in)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cups beef stock
2 cups dry red wine
8 garlic cloves, halved
4 bay leaves
5-6 carrots, whole
1 small head of Savoy cabbage, quartered
2 leeks quartered cross-wise
Salt & pepper to taste
Water as necessary

Using a large pot, heat up the olive oil until very hot. Add the shanks and brown on all sides. Reduce heat to medium and add the rest of the ingredients except the water. Cover and simmer for one hour or more until the vegetables are cooked. Remove the vegetables into a large ovenware dish and set aside. Continue simmering the shanks for another hour and a half on medium low, until the meat is almost falling from the bone. At this point you may need to add a little warm water if too much of the liquid has evaporated. Once the meat is cooked, add it to the vegetables, cover and keep warm in the oven at 300oF.
To make the sauce: reduce heat to low. Remove the bay leaves - now all you have in the pot is the sauce and the cooked garlic cloves. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Using a hand blender, grind up the garlic cloves in the sauce. Simmer until slightly thickened. Serve over the lamb shanks and vegetables.
(I served this dish with olive oil roast potatoes and some chopped parsley).

Scallops in White Port Aspic

The idea for this recipe came from looking at some oriental type spoons I have, wanting to make something quite original with Scallops...raw... So here we go. They were beyond delicious ! No picture...sorry!
Photo courtesy of

Time: 1 hour or more
Effort: Easy
Serves: 4

4 large fresh sea scallops
1 cup beef bouillon chilled
1 packet of powder gelatin
1/4 cup white Port wine
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp lemon juice
4 leaves of Cilantro (Coriander leaves)

Mix a 1/4 cup of the bouillon with the gelatin and let stand until the gelatin has softened. Heat up another 1/4 cup bouillon to boiling and add to the gelatin mixture, stirring constantly until the gelatin has dissolved. Add the remaining bouillon, Port wine, lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste. Chill for no more than 5 minutes - until it's the consistency of a raw egg white. Place a scallop on each spoon and coat with the aspic mixture. Top with one Cilantro leaf and chill until firm. Serve as an appetizer on a bed of salad or as cocktail bites.

Shrimp Nests with Lemon & Pepper Mayonnaise

Kataifi pastry is actually shredded filo, that is usually used in Greek and other nationality desserts. But since this pastry is not sweet, why not use it for something salty ? I forgot to take pictures this time.So here's a stock photo to show you what the nests look like.

Time: 40 minutes (cooking and prep)
Effort: Easy
Serves: 4

4 bunches of Kataifi pastry (about 1" circumference by 5" long)
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups cooked baby shrimp, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp white Port wine
Crushed black pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Heat oven to 350oF. Brush the bottoms and sides of a muffin tin for four with some of the melted butter. Take a bunch of Kataifi pastry and twirl it into one of the muffin cups pressing it lightly down to form a cupped shape. Repeat with the remaining three bunches. Brush the tops generously with the remaining melted butter and bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and chill. In a small bowl combine the shrimp with 2 tbsp lemon juice, Port and crushed pepper. Salt to taste and set aside for a few minutes while you prepare the mayonnaise sauce. Combine mayonnaise with a little salt and a generous amount of pepper and the rest of the lemon juice. Divide the shrimp into four equal parts and scoop them onto each "nest" using an ice cream scoop, drizzle with mayonnaise sauce. Great as an appetizer or served in summer with a salad !

Not sure what to make with what you have in your fridge or freezer ?

Email me and I'll be glad to give you some ideas !

Crispy Panko Green Beans

A ridiculously easy recipe to make and delicious! Even kids love them...yes, those picky kids who don't eat their veggies. This simple dish is great with any fish or meat dish, on it's own or with scrambled eggs ! Get creative and make this with carrots instead, why not ?

Time: 20 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

Approx. 30 fresh green beans - ends trimmed off
Water for steaming
2 1" x 6" strips of roasted seaweed (the ones used to make sushi)
1 tbsp olive oil or canola oil
1/2 cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat oven to 450oF. Steam green beans until tender but not too soft. Lay them on a board or plate and separate them into two equal bunches. Take a strip of seaweed and moisten quickly with warm water (I usually do this by running them quickly under the tap), then wrap it around the center of each bunch of green beans as though it were a piece of tape. Secure the ends by pressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Repeat with the second bunch of beans. Lay on a cookie sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle the tops with Panko. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until they are golden and crispy.

Sesame Seared Salmon with Red Pepper Mayonnaise

Time: 15 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

1/2 store bought mayonnaise (or better still - home made!)
2 tbsp red pepper paste
1/2 cup toasted black and white sesame seeds
2 salmon fillets, skin on or removed, cut in half
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup each soy sauce and water OR 1/2 cup Ponzu sauce

Mix the mayonnaise with the red pepper paste and chill.
Pour the Ponzu sauce into a shallow bowl and dip the salmon fillets. Spread the sesame seeds on a sheet of parchment paper and coat each side of the salmon fillets. Brush a medium skillet with the oil, and heat on high until very hot. Add the salmon and sear for approx. 2 minutes on each side for pink centers - longer if you wish them more cooked. Serve immediately with Red Pepper Mayonnaise. (Shown here served with green beans wrapped in seaweed, baked with Panko).

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Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Red Peppers

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Red Peppers in Wine Sauce
Time: 1 hour (approx.)
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

1 Pork tenderloin, fat removed
1/2 large sweet red pepper, sliced into strips
3 cloves garlic, cut in three, lengthwise
1 tbsp beef bouillon concentrate
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tbsp olive oil or butter
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Cooking string to tie up the tenderloin

Place the tenderloin on a large cutting board and slice it down the middle lengthwise, but not all the way through - just enough to place the red peppers. Open it up so the inside is facing up and fill it with the red peppers and 2-3 strips of garlic, a dash of salt and pepper then close it up, pressing firmly. Careful so the peppers don't fall out! Using the cooking string, tie it all up. (See our Links page for tips on tying up roasts).

Heat the oil or butter in a large skillet, until very hot. Saute the tenderloin so that all sides are nicely browned, then remove from the skillet and add the remaining garlic. Reduce the heat to medium, add the red wine and beef bouillon concentrate, mixing well and scraping the bottom of the pan. Add pepper to taste and adjust the salt - you may not need any more as the bouillon has plenty of salt.Return the tenderloin to the pan with the sauce, and simmer on medium/low, covered for approximately 20 minutes. The center should be slightly pink when sliced.

Mini Spinach Loaves

Time: 45 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

2 packages of leaf spinach or 1 large bunch of baby spinach leaves
1 cup water
2 eggs
1 ripe red tomato, sliced thin
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 tsp butter
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat oven to 375oF. Butter two small loaf pans ( normally used for individual breads or cakes). Lay the tomato slices neatly on the bottom of each pan. Blanch the spinach in boiling water for approximately 2-3 minutes, then strain and squeeze out the excess water. Place the spinach and the eggs in a food processor or blender and puree on high. Add salt and pepper to taste. If using the cheese, add the cheese and blend. Turn the mixture into the pans filling them to about 1/4 inch from the top. Bake until browned and firm to the touch or when you insert a toothpick it comes out dry. Flip them onto a plate and slice into thick slices.
This recipe is great served alongside any of your favorite meat or fish dishes, or even served cold with a salad !

Jerusalem Artichoke and Daikon Soup


A radish of a variety with a large slender white root that is typically eaten cooked, esp. in Eastern cuisine, and is also used for fodder.
 (from Japanese 大根, literally "large root")
Daikon: Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Time: 20 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

1 medium sized Daikon, peeled and quartered
6 Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and quartered
2 cups beef or chicken broth
1 cup water (you might not use it all)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp freshly chopped parsley

Peel and quarter the Daikon and Jerusalem artichokes and cook them in the broth until soft. Strain, keeping the broth for later. Using a food processor, puree the vegetables and return them to the broth. It may be rather thick, so adjust the consistency to your liking by adding some water. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on medium/low heat until you are ready to serve. Serve with a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley. Delicious hot or cold ! (Try serving with a tbsp of plain yogurt if serving cold!)

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Baked Frittata of Asparagus, Tomato and Ham

A deliciously easy dish to make, and less fattening than a fried Frittata! For those who don't want any meat in theirs, omit the ham. You can even add or change the entire ingredients to your liking - be creative!

Time: 45 minutes
Effort: Very Easy
Serves: 4

10 - 15 Green Asparagus spears, gently steamed
1 shallot coarsely chopped
1 tsp butter
4-5 slices Ham, broken into pieces
4 eggs beaten
1 large tomato, sliced and then halved
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1 tsp butter to grease the baking dish

Heat oven to 375oF. Grease a deep baking dish such as a deep pie dish (which is what I used) and set aside. Using a steamer, gently steam the asparagus until they are slightly cooked. Then cut them into 1/2 inch pieces, keeping a few for decoration and set aside. Saute the shallot and ham in 1 tsp butter until the shallot is transparent. Slice the tomatoes. In a medium sized bowl beat the eggs, then add the shallot and ham mixture, the asparagus and half a cup of the shredded cheese and combine well. Turn the mixture into the baking dish and decorate with the sliced tomatoes alternating with the remaining asparagus. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the egg mixture is well cooked and slightly browned on top.