Monday, June 30, 2014

Grilled Seafood Salad with Avocado & Asparagus

One of my favourite salads to make in the summer, is my fabulous Grilled Seafood Salad with Tiger Shrimp, Jumbo Scallops and Calamari combined with grilled asparagus, fresh sliced avocado and chilled new potatoes. Tossed with a tangy marinade, the seafood can be cleaned and prepped well in advance and pulled together at the last minute. As with any summer salad, improvisation is key, adding whatever ingredients are readily available. The idea is to compose a fresh and flavourful hastle-free salad with a treasure trove of grilled seafood and a riot of your favourite veggies nestled on top, for an easy evening meal on a lazy summer night.

Grilled Seafood Salad
Serves 4

10 large tiger shrimp
4 large scallops
4 whole squid with heads, cleaned
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
8 baby potatoes, boiled until just done, and halved
1 lb asparagus, with ends trimmed
1 head red oak leaf lettuce, cleaned, washed and torn into bite size pieces
1/4 english cucumber, thinly sliced
2 marinated roasted red peppers, julienned
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp pure sesame oil
1 tsp hot chili oil
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp fresh basil pesto 
Parmesan-Reggiano, shaved as garnish, optional

Salad dressing:
2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tail intact. Gently run a small knife down the centre of the backs to butterfly the shrimp. Coat with 2 tablespoons of basil pesto and allow to marinate, covered in a small bowl or plastic bag, for at least an hour.

Place the squid on a cutting board and slice each tube in half lengthwise. Lay each of the pieces of squid flat. Score the squid with diagonal slices, cutting through half the thickness, scoring first one way, then the other to create diamond-shaped cuts. Then trim the heads, removing and discarding the beak of the squid. Coat with 1 tsp of hot chili oil, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

For the salad dressing, place the garlic in a food processor and pulse a few times until minced. Add the other ingredients and pulse until emulsified. Cover and set aside. 

Place the scallops and asparagus in two separate bowls, brush the scallops with sesame oil and the asparagus with the olive oil, cover and set aside.

To grill the seafood, place the shrimp, squid, scallops and asparagus on a preheated BBQ and cook until the seafood is opaque and nicely grill marked, and the asparagus is cooked through. The squid and heads should curl up nicely.

To prepare the salad, place the lettuce, cucumber and salad dressing in a large bowl and toss to combine. To serve, place the dressed salad on a large platter, then on top, decoratively arrange the boiled new potatoes, marinated red peppers and tomatoes, then top with the grilled asparagus and seafood. Using a vegetable peeler, garnish with some shaved Parmesan-Reggiano if desired.

Friday, June 27, 2014

El Catrin in the Distillery District: Mod Mexican Cuisine

Toronto’s recent romance with Mexican cuisine continues with El Catrin, one of the new additions to The Distillery District, in the cavernous space previously occupied by The Boiler House. Designed by Munge Leung, the interiors of El Catrin are a visual feast of Mexican motifs with authentic Mexican tile floors, custom designed metal screens, laser-cut lampshades and a spectacular two-storey hand-painted bas-relief mural by artist Óscar Flores of Mexico City. The Distillery Restaurant Group, which also runs Archeo and Pure Spirits Oyster House, imported Chef Olivier Le Calvez from Mexico City last summer to run El Catrin. Southern Mexican dishes from Oaxaca and Yucatan dominate Le Calvez’s modern French-inspired Mexican tapas-style menu, with highlights such table-side guacamole preparation, house made corn tortillas and magnificent margaritas. Our server recommended we order 3 or 4 dishes each for sharing, which is what we did, starting with two icy cold Margaritas and a couple of Botanas, or small plates and a selection of Le Calvez's renowned Tacos. Located just steps from The Soulpepper Theatre Company, El Catrin is a great spot for dinner before a show and even worth a return visit just to enjoy the spectacular space and perhaps the best Mexican cuisine I've enjoyed in the city so far. 

The exterior of El Catrin on the former site of The Boiler House in Toronto's Distillery District

The brick lined entry with a canopy of little punched tin outdoor lanterns

A 5,000-square-foot patio is anchored with an open fire pit that roars both day and night

The dramatic interior features a two-story mural painted by celebrated Mexican native Oscar Flores

El Catrin Distileria's beautifully illustrated menu cover

Our barman making our Margaritas behind El Catrin's handsome wooden bar

Close-up detail of the tequila lined 2-storey wooden bar wall

Reposado Margarita made with Milagro Reposado Tequila, Grand Marnier, agave nectar and citrus

A young server arrives with our guacamole and muddles it by hand before setting it before us

El Catrin's 'Guacamole en la Mesa' made with avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro and serrano chili 

The guacamole is served with outstanding house made corn tortilla chips

Pastelito de Cangrejo: Crab fritters made with papaya, mirin, 
crema fresca in a mole negro vinaigrette

Queso Frito: Sautéed Queso fresco cheese served with grape tomatoes, avocado and mint

Sopes de Albondiga: Mexican style meatballs with chipotle tomato sauce, toasted amaranth on black bean purée

'Gobernador Taco' made with house made flour tortillas, sautéed shrimp, lobster, chipotle aioli and black bean purée

Cochinito Ahumado Taco made with smoked pork, charred tomato, spring onion and corn

El Catrin Destileria funky testimonial page from their website

Ceviche Robalo (Mexican Sea Bass Ceviche)
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy chef Olivier Le Calvez 

8 oz lemon juice 
2 lb sea bass filet, diced 
4 pieces of star anise 
4 spring onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp red onion, julienned 
2 tbsp avocado, finely chopped 
1 tbsp agave nectar 
1 tbsp red pepper, cut into 1/8-inch dice
1 tbsp fine salt 
4 tbsp rice vinegar 

Dice the fish into 1/4-inch cubes then place in a bowl with the lemon juice, anise and honey.  Marinate 4 hours then add the remaining ingredients, stirring well to combine. Serve in a decorative bowl and garnish with the red pepper with a basket of baked tortilla chips 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Creamy Leek and Potato Soup with Dill & Bacon

A traditional Irish dish, this rich and creamy Leek and Potato Soup is frugal, filling and full of flavour, and can also be made in a little more than half an hour. Leeks and onions are simply sautéed in butter until soft, then added to diced potatoes and chicken stock and simmered for 30 minutes. The soup is then puréed with dill until silky smooth and seasoned with salt and white pepper, and then taken up a notch with two perfect partners — bacon and a swirl of heavy cream. Hearty, warm and delicious, this soup is the perfect antidote to the any season's chilly rainy weather. 

Leek and Potato Soup with Dill & Crumbled Bacon
Serves 6

4 tbsp butter
3 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and pale green parts only
3 cups of yellow onions, finely chopped
3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 cups chicken stock
3 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream, for garnish
5 strips of crumbled bacon, for garnish

Cook the bacon then drain on paper towel; crumble and set aside. In a large pot, warm the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and broth, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 25-30 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the dill. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until very smooth. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground white pepper. To serve, ladle the soup into warm bowls, swirl in a dollop of sour cream and garnish with some sprigs of fresh dill and crumbled bacon.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rich & Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Rich, creamy and bursting with summertime flavour, this bright and delicious Tomato Basil Soup is the perfect balance of fresh fragrant herbs and delicate seasonings. A duet of diced onions and carrots are gently sautéed then simmered together with Roma tomatoes, fresh basil and chicken stock until the soup yields its wonderful rich blend of refined Mediterranean flavours. Puréed to a lovely silky smooth texture, this simple, rich and satisfying Tomato Basil Soup is delicious on its own or perfectly partnered with a classic crisp and golden Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Yum.

Tomato Basil Soup
Serves 8

6 tbsp olive oil
4 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 large onion, sliced
1 cup fresh basil leaves
3 28-oz cans whole peeled Roma tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups light cream
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the carrots and onion and cook until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes, then add the basil and cook until the vegetables are completely soft, about 5 minutes more.

Add the tomatoes and broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes. Allow the soup to cool a little bit, then purée using an immersion blender or food processor, until smooth. For a lovely silky texture, strain the purée before returning the soup to the pot.

Stir in the cream over over low heat, until the desired texture is reached and the soup is just warmed through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve warm. Garnish with a sprig of basil or chives and a swirl of cream.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Israeli Couscous with Mushrooms, Peppers & Saffron

Israeli couscous, often referred to as pearl pasta because of its small round shape and chewy texture, is not couscous at all, but tiny pasta made from hard-wheat flour. Although Israeli couscous, and perhaps the more familiar yellow semolina-based African couscous, are both miniature wheat pastas, the similarities end there. African couscous is made by rubbing durum semolina and water into small course granules about the size of bread crumbs, and because they're so small and tender, they require only a few minutes of steeping in hot water or broth, or if you're in Morocco, steamed in a couscousière.

Whereas Israeli couscous is an extruded pasta made from bulgur, which is toasted rather than dried, and as such gives the pearls a unique, chewy, nutty flavour. And unlike traditional North African couscous, Israeli couscous doesn't clump once it's cooked, which makes it a perfect base for many savoury summer salads, like this delicious recipe with sautéed onions, cremini mushrooms, red bell peppers and a pinch of saffron, for a dash of golden summertime colour.

Israeli Couscous with Mushrooms, Peppers & Saffron
Serves 6

1 1/2 cups of water
1/8 tsp of saffron threads
9 oz Israeli couscous
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup yellow onions, diced
4 oz cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup red bell peppers
salt and pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped

Boil water in a medium saucepan. Add saffron and the couscous. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the couscous to absorb the water before fluffing. 

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat olive oil. Add onions, peppers and mushrooms and sauté until tender. Fluff couscous and transfer to a larger bowl. Add the sautéed vegetables and the rest of the ingredients to the couscous, and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate several hours before serving.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Sangria

Easy, delicious and refreshing, a colourful pitcher of Red Sangria is the ideal cocktail for a warm summer afternoon. The word Sangria comes from the Spanish word 'sangre', which means blood, which is an appropriate name considering its robust colour. We generally use a flavourful yet inexpensive medium-bodied wine such as Rioja, Merlot or Zinfandel and an orange flavoured liquor such as Triple Sec, Grand Marnier or Cointreau. For fruity accents, local seasonal summer produce such as raspberries, oranges, strawberries or blackberries are great. Sangria is perfect for parties, because you can mix up a few pitchers and keep them chilled until needed. So grab a bottle of wine, a few friends and whatever fruit you have on hand, and enjoy!  

Red Sangria
Makes 1 pitcher

1 bottle dry red wine - Rioja, Merlot or Zinfandel
1/2 cup Cointreau, Triple Sec or Grand Marnier
1/2 cup ginger ale or club soda 
2 cups of mixed fruit: raspberries, oranges, strawberries, blackberries etc.
1 orange, thinly sliced, for garnish

Add the wine, Cointreau and sliced fruit into a pitcher. Cover and let marinate for an hour or so in the fridge. The longer it sits, the more intense the flavour! Stir before serving to redistribute the fruit, then add the soda and ice cubes. Serve in wine glasses, over ice with a spoonful of the marinated mixed fruit and a garnish of sliced orange. Chin-chin!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Steak & Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Couscous

Sometimes a delicious recipe can be created by sheer 'happenstance', in other words — leftovers. When all of the ingredients are sensational, the combined results can only be equally wonderful. Having hosted a dinner party over the weekend with Grilled Rib-Eye Steak, Curried Couscous and fresh roasted beets for an Arugula and Chickpea Salad with Goat Cheese, there was just a smidgen of everything left the following day. In the spirit of Erma Bombeck, 'when life gives you leftovers, make a salad,' which is exactly what we did, with yummy results. 

Sliced Steak & Beet Salad with Arugula, Goat Cheese and Couscous
Serves 2

1 bunch wild arugula
1/4 cup herbed goat cheese
1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 roasted beet, sliced into eighths
2 scallions, trimmed and finely sliced
1/4 lb cooked steak, thinly sliced
2 cups curried couscous
1/4 cup vinaigrette

To serve, arrange wild arugula in two dinner bowls and top with vinaigrette, followed by sliced steak, scallions, chickpeas, roasted beets, curried couscous and crumbled goat cheese.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tuna Summer Salad with Onion Sprouts & Boiled Eggs

Low calorie, low carb and a great source of Omega-3, this simple, light and delicious Tuna Salad recipe makes an easy weekday dinner paired with mixed salad greens, homemade croutons, hard boiled eggs, topped with a mound of flavourful onion sprouts and dressed with a tangy vinaigrette. Summertime dining doesn't get any easier, healthier or more satisfying.

Tuna Salad with Onion Sprouts & Hard Boiled Eggs
Serves 2

10 oz (2 small cans) canned tuna, drained and flaked
1/2 cup diced English cucumber
3 green onions, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
2 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise 
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 oz mixed greens
1/2 cup homemade croutons
2 large eggs, hard boiled, peeled and halved
1 package onion sprouts, for garnish
Maldon salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Sliced avocado and tomatoes, optional

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove, minced
Fresh cracked black pepper and salt, to taste

Add the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon and minced garlic together in a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Season with fresh cracked black pepper and salt to taste. Combine tuna, diced cucumber, green onions, lemon juice, zest, dill, mayonnaise, salt and pepper in a large bowl and stir well. Toss the mixed greens and croutons and some vinaigrette to taste, then arrange on 2 plates and top with a generous scoop of the tuna mixture. Top with a handful of onion sprouts and garnish with hard boiled eggs. Season with Maldon salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste and drizzle with more vinaigrette if need. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Homemade Strawberry Gelato

It's so gratifying to make homemade gelato, especially during the hot humid months of summer. This recipe takes full advantage of the bounty of plump sweet red strawberries found in the markets these days, and the results are absolutely delicious — bursting with berry goodness. Just three simple ingredients: berries, sugar and cream, a couple of minutes, a good quality Gelato machine, and you're on the way to creating your own personal range of signature desserts.

Fresh washed, hulled and sliced strawberries

Puréed with sugar and water until smooth

Puréed with cream and poured into my Lello gelato machine for 40 minutes

Strawberry Gelato
Makes 1 quart

1 1/2 lb strawberries, washed, hulled and halved
1/2 cup sugar 
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Place the strawberries and 1/2 cup sugar into a food processor and blend until they're well combined. Then add the cream and process until well blended, about 2-3 minutes. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a Gelato machine and freeze 35-40 minutes. The gelato can be stored for 2-3 days in the freezer.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pork Souvlaki with Cucumber-Dill Yogurt Tzatziki

Well known for its delicious cuisine and healthy Mediterranean diet, Greece has a long rich culinary history that dates back over 4,000 years. From grilled fish and dolmades to skordalia and spanakopita, Greek cuisine is a divine marriage of bold flavours, simple ingredients and time-honoured traditions. Many dishes can be traced back to ancient Greece and Byzantium, whereas others were influenced by Ottoman cuisine with names that reveal their Arabic, Persian or Turkish roots: moussaka, tzatziki, yuvarlakia, keftethes and boureki. However, among the icons of modern Greek food culture, one of the most popular must be souvlaki. Infused with the intoxicating scents of oregano, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil, these Pork Kebabs owe their tenderness to a tangy marinade that helps break down even the toughest cuts of meat. Traditionally served wrapped in pita bread and topped with a variety of condiments such as lettuce, tomato, onion, and tzatziki, Souvlaki are also quite delicious all on their own, perfect for enjoying as part of a Greek-inspired menu of small plates on a warm summer evening.

Marinade for the pork souvlaki: olive oil, lemon juice, cider vinegar and Greek oregano 
seasoned with salt and pepper

The pork shoulder was trimmed and cut into generous 1 1/2-inch pieces and marinated for a few hours before threading the meat onto skewers

Cold and creamy tzatziki

Pork Souvlaki
Serves 4

1 1/2 lb pork shoulder or loin, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tbsp dried Greek oregano
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

In large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Add the pork and toss to coat. Marinate for 15 minutes. Evenly thread the marinated pork onto 4 skewers and grill on a preheated barbecue, turning halfway through, until just a hint of pink remains inside, about 8 minutes per side. Garnish with sliced lemon and fresh oregano, and bowl of tzatziki.

Makes 2 1/2 cups

2 cups Greek or Balkan yogurt
1 English cucumber, unpeeled and seeded
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh dill
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Box grate the cucumber and toss it with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Place it in a sieve and set it over a bowl. Place both bowls in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours so the yogurt and cucumber can drain. Transfer the thickened yogurt to a large bowl. Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as you can and add the cucumber to the yogurt. Mix in the sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. You can serve it immediately, but letting the tzatziki to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours allows for the flavours to blend. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs with Mashed Potatoes

Tender, succulent and meltingly tender, Braised Short Ribs must be one of the ultimate comfort foods. The magic of braising is that it relies on heat, time, and moisture to successfully break down the tough connective tissue and collagens in meat, transforming the dense, well-marbled texture of short ribs until its fall-off-the-bone tender and creating a rich, velvety and deeply flavoured sauce along the way. From the perfect pot roast to the fragrant complexity of a classic coq au vin, there's really no food more satisfying than a well-braised dish. In this recipe, slowly braising the short ribs in a combination of red wine, beef broth, flour, a bouquet of aromatic herbs and chopped vegetables gives the meat a deep, dark colour and sumptuous flavour, that makes this dish one of the most memorable braises I've ever prepared. Served over a mound of Leek & Scallion Mashed Potatoes with a puddle of satiny sauce and a bottle of full bodied red wine, this recipe is an absolute winner.

Flanken-style short ribs: The top one is 2 1/2" thick and the bottom ones about 1 1/2" thick

The ribs are cut crosswise into 2" pieces with a rib bone in each portion

Seasoned with salt and pepper, the short ribs are sautéed in a little vegetable oil, 
until they are browned on all sides

Depending on their size, the ribs are browned about 2-3 minutes per side

The ribs should be sautéed in batches so they have room to brown

Once browned, the ribs are set aside in a bowl 

Chopped onions and carrots are added to the pot and sautéed over medium-high for 5 minutes

Flour and tomato paste are then added and cooked for another 2-3 minutes

The browned ribs are then added to the pot along with their accumulated juices and a bottle of dry red wine

Cabernet Sauvignon is the recommended wine for this dish

The wine mixture simmers and bubbles away

After 25 minutes, the liquid is reduced to almost half

Fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley, bay leaves and a head of garlic cut in half, are added to the pot

4 cups of beef broth is then added and brought to a boil, then covered and transferred to the 350°F oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours

While the short ribs are braising, the leek and scallions are washed and finely chopped for the mashed potatoes

2 tablespoons of butter in melted in a pan over medium heat

The vegetables are added and sautéed until they are soft, about 5-6 minutes

Once they're cooked, the pan is removed from the heat and set aside, allowing the onions to relax in the residual warmth of the pan until needed

Just before the ribs have finished cooking, the potatoes are boiled, mashed and dotted with butter and cream with the leek-scallion mixture added at the end

The short ribs are removed from the braising liquid after 3 hours and placed on a foil lined baking tray then browned for 10 to 15 minutes at 275°F

Meanwhile the braising liquid is strained, 
defatted and set over medium-high for 10-15 minutes to further reduce the liquid

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs
Serves 4

5 lb bone-in flanken-style beef short ribs, cut into 2" pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 medium onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 750-ml bottle dry red wine, preferably Cabernet Sauvignon
10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
8 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs rosemary
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
4 cups beef stock

Preheat oven to 350°F. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and working in 2 batches, brown the short ribs on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. When done, transfer the browned short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the drippings from the pot.

Add the chopped onions, carrots and celery to the pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the wine, then add the short ribs with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and simmer until the wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. 

Add all of the herbs and the garlic to the pot. Stir in the beef stock and bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook until the short ribs are tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Turn off the oven and let the short ribs rest at least 15-30 minutes in their juices — I left them for 90 minutes — and then transfer the ribs to a foil lined baking sheet to brown in a preheated 275°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, strain the braising liquid into a large bowl, discarding the vegetables and herbs. Return the liquid to the pot and using a handful of paper towel, skim the fat from the sauce as much as possible. Set the pot over medium-high heat and allow the liquid to thicken slightly. Taste for seasoning.

Mashed Potatoes with Leeks & Scallions
Serves 4

6 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 leek
3 scallions, washed and trimmed
10 tbsp butter
salt and white pepper
3/4 cup cream

Slice the leek in half lengthwise and rinse in cold water, then slice in half again. Using a chef's knife, finely chop the leeks and scallions then sauté with 2 tablespoons of butter on medium high heat until they become soft, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside, allowing them to rest in the residual heat until needed.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes. Cook for 25-30 minutes until they are fork tender, then toss into a colander to drain.

In the same pot, melt 8 tablespoons of butter over medium heat then add the potatoes and mash until smooth. Add the sautéed leeks and scallions, stirring to combine. Pour in the cream and blend to your desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper, turn the heat to low and cover until ready to serve.