Garlic Dry Ribs

Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Effort: Super Easy
Serves: 4

12-16 long pork or beef ribs
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp salt

Heat oven to 400oF. Place ribs in a large baking dish or pan and smear on the garlic and salt so that all sides are coated. Roast in oven for approximately 45 minutes or more until crisp and the meat is falling off the bone. 

Sun Dried Tomato Spaghettini with Leeks Shrimp and Scallops

Time: 20 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 4

16 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
16 large sea scallops
1 large leek, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1" pieces
1 shallot chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
Salt to taste and plenty of black pepper
2 tbsp heavy cream (optional, but great if you do add it!)
Sun dried tomato spaghettini
Water for boiling pasta (about 4 cups)
Romano or Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a medium skillet until very hot. Add scallops and shrimp and saute on high until barely cooked. Remove and set aside. Saute the shallot in the remaining oil, on high heat, add the leeks and white wine, salt to taste and simmer until tender. Return the shrimp and scallops to the leek mixture and add cream blending well. Turn heat off and cover to keep warm.

In a large pot bring the water to a rolling boil. Add enough pasta for 4 persons (I usually measure by making a circle with my thumb and fore-finger for each person). Boil for 5-7 minutes and strain. Serve topped with shrimp/scallop mixture and sprinkle a generous amount of black pepper on top, along with a few shavings of Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Green Pea Puree and Asparagus Molds

Time: 20 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

2 cups frozen sweet peas ("petits pois")
20 fresh green asparagus, ends cut off (I used the skinny ones. If you use the thicker kind you will only need about 10)
2 cups water (for boiling and steaming)
1 chicken bouillon cube

In a medium saucepan, which you can add a steamer basket to, add 2 cups water and the chicken bouillon cube. Bring to a rolling boil, add the peas and boil for 5 minutes. Strain out the peas, keeping the liquid and place the peas in a food processor. Meanwhile, place a steam basket into the saucepan and steam the asparagus until tender. Remove the asparagus and set aside. Puree the peas in the food processor using a little of the leftover water so that it's creamy but slightly lumpy.

Take two small bowls and rinse the insides with cold water. Line the bottoms and sides with asparagus in a circular fashion, then fill the rest of the bowls with the pea puree. Using a metal soup spoon press the puree firmly down. Cover with a plate and invert quickly so that it falls onto the plate in a nice mold. Serve hot or cold.

Mapled Shrimp and Sea Scallops

Time: 15-20 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

14 large sea scallops
14 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp lemon juice

Melt the butter in a large skillet until very hot - almost smoking. Add shrimp and toss quickly cooking all sides, remove from pan and set aside. Add scallops and toss the same way you did the shrimp (they should be slightly cooked on the outside, pink on the inside). Remove from pan (add them to the shrimp you set aside). Still on high heat, add the maple syrup, lemon juice and soy sauce, stir and let bubble until it thickens slightly. Add the shrimp and scallops to the sauce but remove from heat so they don't continue to cook. Serve immediately. Also good served as appetizers on oriental spoons, or good served cold with a wedge of lemon.

Roast Lamb Shanks in Creamy Wine Sauce

Roast Lamb Shanks in Creamy Wine Sauce (with Rosemary Potato Slices and Steamed  Kale)
Time: 1 hour
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

2 lamb shanks
2 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, cut into slivers
2 shallots, halved
2 stalks celery cut into chunks
2 carrots cut into chunks
1 cup dry red wine
2 tbsp heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400oF. Take a roasting pan large enough to hold the shanks along with the vegetables and drizzle the olive oil on the bottom. Using a sharp paring knife, cut deep slits into each shank and fill with slivers of garlic, save a few to put around them in the pan. Place in the roasting pan along with the vegetables, shallots and half the wine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roast uncovered for 45 minutes or until the shanks are crisp and falling off the bone. Remove from oven. (Keep temperature at 400oF). Remove vegetables and whatever is left of the wine and blend until smooth in a food processor. Add cream and remaining wine and turn the sauce into a small saucepan. Return shanks to the oven and roast for another 15 minutes, meanwhile simmer the sauce on low. Serve shanks over the sauce (not vice-versa).

Spinach, Watercress and Arugula Soup

Time: 20 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 4

2 cups Arugula leaves
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 bunch watercress (about 2 cups) - washed, stems left on, cut into pieces
2 small potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 cups chicken or beef broth
Salt if necessary
2 tbsp heavy cream

In a medium saucepan bring the 3 cups broth to a boil. Add the arugula, spinach and watercress a little at a time and boil until very soft. Strain off the broth setting the vegetables aside and return the broth to the pan. Boil the potatoes until tender. Place the vegetables and potatoes in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Gradually add the puree back to the broth in the same pan, adjust the salt to your taste and add the cream. Simmer on low. Good served hot or cold with croutons or bread sticks.

Chicken in Red Pepper Sauce

Time: 30 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2-4

2 chicken breasts, skinned and cut into 1/2 inch strips
2 red peppers, cored and cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 small onion sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup water
1 tsp cane sugar
Sat & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a deep skillet until very hot. Add the onion and red peppers. Saute until the peppers are browned. Add the chicken, stir and cover. Simmer, stirring from time to time until the chicken is cooked. (About 10 minutes or a little more.) Combine the tomato paste and water in a small bowl, add salt and pepper and cane sugar and add to the chicken. Simmer on low for another 10-15 minutes. Great served with linguini, spaghetti or fusili pasta! (And don't forget some baguette to dip into the sauce!)

Butterflied Pork Loin with Caraway Seeds on Sun Dried Tomato Toast with Wine Peppercorn Sauce

Time: 1 hour
Effort: Easy
Serves: 4

1 two pound pork loin roast with fat on (yes!)
3 tbsp caraway seeds
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp canned green peppercorns
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 slices of Italian crusty white bread, halved to make 4
2 tbsp Sun Dried Tomato paste

Heat oven to 400oF. Butterfly the pork roast and press to lie flat in an oven pan or dish. Sprinkle with caraway seeds, salt and pepper and roast for approximately 40 minutes until it is crispy. Blend the wine with the cream and green peppercorns and add to the roasting pan - do not pour on top of the roast. Return to the oven and roast again for another 15-20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling. Just before serving, toast the slices of bread and spread with sun dried tomato paste. Top with strips of pork roast on top of a generous amount of sauce.

Giant Mushrooms Stuffed with Green Beans Gratin

Time: 45 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

3 giant white mushrooms
1 cup green beans, ends cut off
1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp heavy cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

Butter an oven-proof dish with 1 tsp of the butter. Heat oven to 450oF. French cut or julienne the green beans and steam for about 10 minutes until tender. Wash and remove the stems from the mushrooms and set them into the oven dish. When the green beans are cooked, remove them from the steamer and cut in half cross-wise. Fill each mushroom cap with a bunch of green beans, 1 tbsp cream, and salt & pepper. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and add a piece of butter on top. Bake until the mushrooms and the green beans are nicely browned. Great served hot (as is) or you may serve cold with a Dijon vinaigrette.

BBQ Curry Chicken with Mint Cucumber Sauce

Time: 45 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves 4

6 Chicken thighs, skin on
4 tbsps Curry powder
2 tbsps olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped fine
1/2 English cucumber (seedless) diced
1 cup plain yogurt 
Salt & pepper to taste

Place the chicken in a microwavable dish, and microwave on high (covered with paper towels to avoid splashing) for 5 minutes. Remove and strain off any liquid on the bottom of the dish. Drizzle with olive oil, a little salt and the lemon juice. Coat all the chicken - both sides - with the curry powder and set aside while you make the yogurt sauce. 

Combine the mint with the yogurt and cucumber and refrigerate. (You can add some salt and pepper if you wish).

Heat BBQ to high. Just before adding the chicken, turn the heat to medium-low, and grill the chicken for 25-30 minutes, turning from time to time, with the cover closed. Serve hot or cold with the cucumber sauce.

(Note: I microwave the chicken before grilling because it reduces the cooking time and creates less flames, plus it cooks better through and through).

Baked Ham with Maple Mustard Sauce

Time: 45 minutes
Effort: Super-easy
Serves: 8

1 3lb Mesquite smoked ham
1 cup Yellow mustard
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup orange juice

Heat oven to 450oF. Place ham in a large enough baking casserole, and cut slits on the skin creating a criss-cross design. Bake for 20 minutes until the slits start to open. Meanwhile combine the two mustards with 1/4 cup maple syrup. Remove the ham, pour the orange juice over it, then spread the mustard mixture over the skin, letting some of it drip over the sides. Bake for another 25 minutes or until the mustard over the skin has browned. Serve hot or cold. 

(Tip for cleaning the casserole as the sauce sticks heavily to it: Soak in hot water with a dishwasher cube or dishwasher powder.)

Easter Brunch Menu....

There were a few changes to the menu last minute - I did not make the Baby Greens Salad nor the Cheese, Nut Platter... and, I did not stuff the ham.. Not enough time that morning !

Sausage, Bacon and Red Pepper Hash-Browns

Time: 1 hour (approx)
Effort: Easy
Serves: 8

1 large onion, diced
1 large red pepper, diced
3 tbsps olive oil
4 spicy Italian sausages - casing removed
8 strips of pre-cooked bacon, cut into pieces
8 potatoes: 3 each of Russet and Yukon Gold and 2 sweet potatoes, diced 
Crushed black pepper to taste

Heat 2 tbsps olive oil in a large deep skillet until very hot. Saute the onions and peppers. Add the bacon pieces and saute until browned, then add the sausage meat and continue to saute, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon or spatula. Remove from the pan and set aside. Heat the rest of the olive oil and add the diced potatoes. Saute until browned and well cooked, then add in the bacon-sausage mixture and saute again, adding black pepper to taste. Serve immediately or keep warm in the oven, covered with foil until needed.

Baked French Toast with Maple Butter

No pictures.... oops!

Time: 45 minutes or less
Effort: Easy
Serves: 6-8 small portions

1 loaf cinnamon-raisin bread, pre-sliced
6 eggs well beaten
2 cups milk plus 1 more cup
1 tbsp powdered cinnamon
2 cups real maple syrup
3 tbsp butter softened

Heat oven to 400oF. Butter a deep baking dish large enough to hold all the slices of bread lined up. Lay the slices of bread in the dish so that they look like a stack of cards fanned out - you should have two layers, side by side. Beat the eggs well and whisk in 2 cups of milk, cinnamon and 1 cup of the maple syrup. Generously pour over the bread. Pour over the third cup of milk and the remaining maple syrup. Bake until very golden and serve immediately - with extra syrup is even better !

Easter Sunday Brunch for Eight

Orange-Mango Champagne Cups
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Baked French Toast with Maple Butter & Walnuts
Sausage, Bacon & Red Pepper Hash-browns
Spiced Ham Stuffed with Arugula and Maple Mustard Sauce
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Baby Greens Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
Cheese, Nut and Fruit Platter