Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Simple French Onion Soup

A wonderful comfort food this time of the year.  As always great ingredients are what make this shine so get the best quality of bread and cheese that you can.

3 tbsp butter
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp flour
2 cans (14 1/2 oz) reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine mixed with 1/2 to 1 cup water
4 slices good quality thick bread slices, toasted
1/2 pound Smoked Gruyere Cheese, shredded

  • Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium low heat.  Add onions; cook 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft and golden brown.  Stir in flour.
  • Slowly whisk in one can of chicken broth; pour in remaining can.  Add wine mixture.  Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 20 minutes.
  • Heat four soup bowls.  Place one slice of toast at bottom of each bowl.  Top with one quarter of the cheese.  Ladle soup into bowls.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Chicken Noodle Soup

I love soups this time of year and this is a really good recipe to start with.  Add some different pasta or veggies to give it some variety.

2 1/2 to 3 pound chicken, quartered
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 cups water
4 oz fettuccine, broken into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp lemon juice
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

  • Place chicken, onion, carrots, celery and 4 cups of water into a large pot.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
  • Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook fettuccine according to pkg directions.
  • Pour coup through a strainer into a smaller pot.  Reserve chicken and vegetables.  When cool enough to handle, remove chicken from bones and cut into 1/3 inch cubes.
  • Add chicken, vegetables, fettuccine, lemon rind, juice, salt, and pepper to the pot.  Stir well; cook 2 to 3 minutes over low heat to heat through.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Artichoke and Asiago Brussels Sprouts

A really nice side dish and so easy to prepare!

1 x 227 g pkg Artichoke and Asiago Dip
2 lbs Brussels Sprouts, trimmed, cleaned and halved
3 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 tbsp chives, chopped fine
Salt and Pepper, to taste

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine brussels sprouts with dip, balsamic vinegar and oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mix well until brussels sprouts are well coated.
  • Spread brussels sprouts on baking tray lined with a sheet of parchment paper.  Roast in 375F oven about 15 to 20 minutes until brussels sprouts are golden.  Test with fork for tenderness.
  • Remove from oven and transfer to serving bowl.  While still warm, drizzle with more dip and top with chopped parsley and chives.
Serves about 4 people

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Chicken Tikka

This chicken kabob has wonderful Indian flavours.  From Canadian Living - the Barbecue Collection.

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup full fat plain yogurt
3 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
2 tbsp chickpea flour
8 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp each ground cardamom, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, turmeric and pepper
1/2 tsp each ground mace and nutmeg (or 3/4 tsp nutmeg)
3 tbsp peanut oil or vegetable oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 8 cubes each, or 12 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3 pieces each

1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
Fresh cilantro sprigs

  • In blender or food processor, puree together cilantro, mint, lemon juice, yogurt, ginger, chickpea flour, garlic, salt, coriander, cardamom, cayenne, cumin, turmeric, pepper, mace and nutmeg; mix in oil.  Toss with chicken until coated.  Cover and marinate, refrigerated, for 3 to 4 hours.
  • GARNISH - Meanwhile, mix onion with slat; pour lemon juice over top.  Let stand for 30 minutes; drain.
  • Thread chicken onto skewers, leaving about 1/2 inch between pieces.  Grill, covered, on greased grill over medium high heat, turning once, until no longer pink inside, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Garnish chicken with onion mixture and cilantro.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Chicken and Mango Kabobs

I love barbecuing kabobs, they are so versatile and a great way to incorporate veggies and fruit into a meal.  This is a tropical take on dinner with the mango, onion and red pepper. As always the trick with kabobs is to make sure everything is the same size so it cooks evenly.

1 tsp grated lime zest
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tbsp peanut oil or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt (I omit this)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
450 g boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 top liquid honey
12 red or white pearl onions, or 1 small red or sweet onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 mangoes, cut into 3/4 inch cutes
1 sweet red pepper, cut into 3/4 inch pieces.

  • Mix together lime zest and juice, oil, garlic, chili powder, salt and cayenne; toss half with chicken until coated.  Stir honey into remaining marinade; set aside.  Marinate chicken for 20 minutes or covered and refrigerated for up to 4 hours.
  • Meanwhile in saucepan of boiling water, boil unpeeled pearl onions for 2 minutes; drain.  Slip off skins.
  • Alternately thread mango and red pepper onto skewers; brush with half of the reserved marinade.  Alternately thread chicken and onions onto separate skewers.  Grill, covered on greased grill over medium high heat, turning once and basting with remaining honey marinade, until mango is softened and chicken is no longer pink inside, about 8 minutes.
Makes 4 main course servings.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Layer Cake with Whipped Cream

This cake is great with fresh fruit like strawberries!

135 ml butter
3 eggs divided
225 ml flour
100 ml sugar
75 ml milk
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
300 ml sugar for topping
Slivered almonds, (optional)
500 ml whipping cream for filling

Cream butter and sugar; add egg yolks.  Sift flour and baking powder into egg mixture alternately with milk.  Grease 2 springforms well; divide dough evenly into pans.  Beat egg whites stiff.  Add 300 ml sugar.  Spread on top; sprinkle with almonds.  Bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes.  Remove from pan, cool completely and place on a serving plate with whipped cream between layers.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Bacon, Avocado and Cheese Omelets

A great choice for brunch.  The salsa recipe can be doubled and used for burgers or chicken later.

1 small tomato, chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeño pepper, fresh or canned (seeded and finely chopped)
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt and Pepper

4 eggs
2 tbsp milk
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp butter, divided
4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, crumbled
1/2 small avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack Cheese

  • For Salsa:  in small bowl, combine tomato, green onions, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime juice and mix well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • For Omelets:  In medium bowl, whisk eggs with milk and season with salt and pepper.  Melt half the butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium high heat and when foam subsides, add half the egg mixture.  Tilt pan to coat bottom and cook 1 minute, until almost set.  Sprinkle half the omelet with half the bacon, avocado and cheese and cook 1 minute.  Fold empty half of omelet over filling and slide omelet onto a plate.  Keep warm.
  • Repeat with remaining butter, egg mixture, bacon, avocado and cheese.  Serve with salsa.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Sweet Cherry and Blackberry Lattice Pie

A nice combination of fruits that gives you enough tart and enough sweet.  I cut this recipe in half with no issues. From Food and Drink Summer 2015.

Slab Pie Pastry
5 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 cups frozen unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups cold water
2 tbsp lemon juice

  1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.  Working with 1 stick of butter at a time, coarsely grate into flour mixture.  Toss to coat, then repeat until all the butter has been incorporated.
  2. Combine water and lemon juice.  Drizzle into the flour mixture a little at a time, stirring or kneading gently until all the flour has been incorporated and you can bring dough into a ball (you may need to add slightly more or less liquid depending on how much the butter has worked through the dough).  Cut ball of dough in half if you have made enough for 2 crusts; wrap in plastic, and flatten into rectangular discs.  Chill for 2 hours or overnight.
2 lbs plus 6 oz (1.175 kg) sweet cherries, halved and pitted
625 g blackberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice 
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch

1 egg beaten with 1 tsp whipping cream
2 tbsp turbinado or coarse sugar

  • Preheat oven to 425F.
  • Line the bottom of a 13 x 17 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Roll pastry out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 15 x 9 inches.  Fit pastry into prepared baking sheet and trim so that overhanging edge is about 3/4 inches wide all around.  Chill.  Roll second piece of pastry into a similar sized rectangle, transfer to a piece of parchment, and use a ruler and a fluted pastry to cut pastry into about 13 strips about 3/4 inches wide (you will need 5 long strips and 8 shorter strips). Slide pastry and parchment onto a baking sheet and chill until filling is ready.
  • Combine cherries, blackberries, sugar, lemon juice, zest and salt in a bowl and stir gently to mix. Let stand 10 minutes or until sugar has dissolved and fruit looks juicy.  Add tapioca and stir gently until it coats the fruit and is completely moistened.  Spread fruit and any juices into prepared pastry crust in an even layer.
  • Lay 5 long strips of pastry lengthwise on top of fruit.  You are going to basket weave the pastry strips.  Fold alternating strips back onto themselves at the midpoint.  Lay 1 strip of pastry across them.  Fold the long pastry strips back into position, then fold back the other alternating strips and lay another strip across.  Continue in this manner until you have about 8 strips of pastry woven evenly spaced across the width of the pie.  Use a little water to moisten the underside of the pastry strips where they meet the crust to help them stick together.  Trim both the bottom crust and the strips to about a 3/4 inch overhang.  Lightly moisten the edge with water and fold over to create a pastry lip.  Use the tines of a fork to decoratively compress edges all the way around.  Brush all pastry with egg - whipping cream wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  • Bake for 30 minutes then turn oven down to 375F and bake for 20 minutes longer or until fruit juices are bubbling and thickened and pastry is golden and cooked through.
Makes 16 servings

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Lettuce Wraps with Miso Glazed Arctic Char

Arctic Char has a wonderful delicate texture and flavour which makes it perfect for this particular recipe.  I am a big fan of Asian flavours and the Miso flavour added to this is excellent.  I put a little Wasabi Sauce on mine as well.  From Food and Drink Summer 2015.

2 tbsp white miso paste
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp hot water
2 fillets Arctic char, skin on and deboned, about 625 g
1 cup uncooked jasmine or other fragrant rice, cooked and cooled
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 avocado, diced
1 sheet nori
1 cup english or mini cucumbers, finely diced
1/2 cup green onion, finely sliced on diagonal
1 head green or red leaf lettuce, leaves separated and washed
Sriracha or hot sauce to garnish

  • In a glass baking dish or plastic storage bag, stir together miso paste, soy sauce, honey and hot water.  Place fillets in marinade, flesh side down and let marinate for 1 to 4 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Toss rice with 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar and 1 tbsp vegetable oil.
  • Toss avocado with remaining 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar to prevent browning, and slice nori into small 1 inch strips.
  • Heat broiler on high.  Place the Arctic char, skin side down, on an oiled foil lined baking sheet.
  • Place fish under broiler in top third of the oven.  Broil until fish is just cooked through, about 4 minutes depending on its thickness.
  • Once fish has cooled slightly, pull the flesh off the skin in long pieces.
  • Assemble all the fillings and place some of each ingredient in the lettuce leaves.  Garnish with hot sauce if desired, wrap and serve.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Carmelized Apple Brioche

This is not a Danish Pastry but it is pretty close.  It takes a couple of days to make the components of this pastry so plan ahead.  The effort is well worth it with a wonderful tasting pastry and soft vanilla custard.  You will never want to buy them again!  I did not glaze with the apple jelly as I prefer my pastry less sweet.  From Food and Drink Holiday 2015

1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup sugar, divided
4 large Royal Gala apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices

1 recipe Brioche (see below)
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg beaten with 2 tsp water
1/2 cup apple jelly
Icing sugar for dusting

  1. For the pastry cream, place 3/4 cup of the milk and the sugar in a saucepan.  Split the vanilla bean and scrape the black seeds into the milk; add the pod as well.  Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a sumer.
  2. Whisk the remaining 1/4 cup milk with the yolks and cornstarch until smooth.  Slowly whisk the hot milk into the yolk mixture and combine well.  Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and place back over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly until very thick, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in the butter until melted.  Scrape the pastry cream into a separate bowl.  Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate until chilled.  The pastry cream can be prepared 3 days in advance.
  3. For the caramelized apples, melt 1 tbsp butter in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add 1/4 cup sugar and half the apple slices.  Cook, tossing frequently, about 5 minutes, or until the apples are tender and well caramelized but still hold their shape.  Transfer the apples to a bowl and repeat with remaining butter, sugar an apple slices.  Cool completely.
  4. To assemble the brioche, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.  Combine the 2 tbsp sugar with the cinnamon.
  5. On a floured surface, roll the brioche dough to a 10 x 10 inch square.  Brush lightly with beaten egg and top with the cinnamon sugar.  With a sharp knife, and cutting straight down, cut ten 1 inch wide strips.  Working with 1 strip at a time, place hands on either end of the strip and roll in opposite directions to create a tight twist of dough that encloses the cinnamon sugar.  Spiral the twist inward to create a circular shape, tucking the end under.  Place the circle of dough on the parchment lined baking sheet.  Continue with the remaining strips of dough, placing them at least 1 inch apart on the baking sheet.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until almost doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350F
  7. Remove the vanilla pod from the chilled pastry cream.  Whisk the pastry cream until it is smooth and spreadable.  Place a rounded tablespoon of pastry cream in the centre of each brioche spiral. To form the apple rosettes, take one slice of caramelized apple and roll it with your hands until it is tight.  This will be the core of the rosette.  Take another apple slice and roll it around the rosette core.  Keep adding one apple slice at a time, overlapping as you go, using 5 or 6 apple slices for each rosette.  Place one apple rosette overtop the pastry cream on each brioche spiral.  Bake the brioche until it is golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
  8. Place the apple jelly in a small pot and place over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and continue simmering for 1 to 2 minutes.  Brush the hot jelly over the apples just to coat, then sift icing sugar over the edges.
Makes 10


3/4 cup bread flour
1/4 tsp rapid rise instant yeast
2 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
5 tbsp milk

Final Dough
3/4 cup bread flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp rapid rise instant yeast
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp sugar
2 medium eggs
6 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

  • For the sponge, combine the bread flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Add the butter and milk, and mix on low speed until well combined and no butter lumps remain, 1 to 2 minutes.  Cover the surface of the dough loosely with plastic wrap and allow to stand for 30 minutes.  The fermentation will begin during this time, but the sponge will not expand to any noticeable degree.
  • For the final dough, place the flour, salt, instant yeast and half the sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs just to break them up.  Add the dry mixture along with the eggs to the sponge and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until the mixture is combined, about 1 minute.  Replace the paddle with the dough hook and mix the dough on low speed for 5 minutes.  Increase the speed to medium and mix for an additional 8 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl and the dough hook 1 or 2 times.  Add the remaining sugar and mix to incorporate.
  • Add the butter in 3 additions, mixing until fully incorporated.  The dough will be very soft and shiny.  Wrap in layers of plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  • The dough can be held in the fridge for 2 days or frozen for 2 weeks.  Thaw in the fridge overnight before using.