Friday, March 31, 2017

Whitefish Caviar Canapés with Sour Cream & Chives

With its rich, salty taste, and lovely crunchy texture, this naturally golden coloured caviar has very small, pale orange eggs with a mild, non-fishy flavour. Produced from the roe of the popular whitefish, native to the Great Lakes of North America, the pearls of this delicate caviar are great as a garnish, appetizer for late night soirées or intimate gourmet brunches spooned over poached or scrambled eggs. Light and delicious, this effortless and affordable appetizer adds an elegant touch to any cocktail party.

Golden Whitefish Caviar Canapés with Sour Cream & Chives 
Serves 4

4 oz jar Whitefish caviar
8 oz sour cream or crème fraîche
12 Carr's Table Water Biscuits
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives, for garnish

Spoon a dollop of sour cream onto each biscuit and top with a generous teaspoon of caviar. Arrange the canapés on a decorative platter and garnish with chopped chives.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wild BC Snapper with Tomatoes, Olives & Swiss Chard

Red Snapper is a lovely robust fish and this simple preparation using BC Wild Snapper showcases its wonderful flavour and texture. A simple tomato sauce with olives and onion sauce and some steamd swiss chard are all that's needed to make this bright and flavourful dish. A specialty of the Tuscan port of Leghorn in Livorno, this recipe reflects the ingredients of the region: fresh seafood, olives and wine. Its rich and tangy flavour is ideal for serving with fish. In keeping with with the Italian roots of this recipe, I used Taggiasche Snocciolate olives, which are very small black pitted nicoise-style olives with a distinctive, earthy taste — the pride and joy of Liguria. The region produces only a small amount of these lovely little gems, and so they're a rarity even in Liguria. I was thrilled to have found some on our last trip to Italy.

Wild BC Red Snapper with Tomatoes & Taggiasche Olives is delicious served over a bed of steamed swiss chard and a pillow of Cauliflower mash. Low in carbs and high in nutrients, puréed or mashed cauliflower is a delicious substitute for mashed potatoes. I discovered this fabulous guilt-free recipe in the South Beach Diet Cookbook, which is my 'go-to' resource when trying to shed a few unwanted pounds. Wonderfully flavourful in it's own right, Cauliflower Mash is also great used as a silky smooth purée nestled under grilled scallops, sautéed Red Snapper or any kind of fresh seafood. Buono!

Wild BC Red Snapper with Tomatoes, Taggiasche Olives & Swiss Chard
Serves 2

2 tbsp olive oil
2  8-oz BC red snapper filets, skin removed
1⁄4 cup dry white wine
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, or homemade Tomato Sauce
1⁄4 cup black Taggiasche pitted olives, whole
1⁄2 bunch parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season with snapper with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Cook until lightly golden, about 2 minutes,  then turn the fish and cook other side another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, olives, wine and half the parsley and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until fish is just cooked through, about 10–15 minutes, spooning the sauce over fish as it cooks. Serve the snapper on a warm plate, over a layer of Cauliflower Mash, Steamed Swiss Chard with the sauce spooned overtop. Sprinkle with remaining parsley for garnish and enjoy.

Cauliflower Mash
Serves 2

2 cups cauliflower florets
1 oz butter or Olivina
1 oz whole milk or light cream
pinch of salt and freshly ground black or white pepper

Steam the cauliflower until soft. Purée in a food processor, adding the butter and milk to taste. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter & Walnuts

These are incredible little brownies. Moist, dense and fudgy in the middle. Chewy on the outside with a wafer thin candy-like crust. Bon Appétit featured these decadent wee wonders on their February 2011 cover. It piqued my interest even more with the huge text proclaiming "Best-Ever Brownies," heralding an entire feature section devoted to chocolate desserts penned by none other than Alice Medrich — an author, dessert chef and chocolatier who has been affectionately called 'The First Lady of Chocolate.'

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter & Walnuts
Makes 16
Recipe by Alice Medrich 

Non-stick vegetable oil spray
10 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup walnuts pieces

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 325°F. Line the inside of an 8" x 8" square metal baking pan with aluminum foil, pressing foil firmly against the pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat the foil with nonstick spray. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue cooking until the butter stops foaming, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, and immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons of water, vanilla and 1/4 generous teaspoon of salt. Stir to blend, then let cool 5 minutes. Add the eggs to the hot mixture one at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until well blended. Mix in the chopped nuts, and transfer to the prepared pan, smoothing the top before baking. 

Bake for about 30 minutes or more, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out almost clean. If there is still a tiny bit of moist batter at the very bottom that's okay. Remove the brownies from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool, remove the brownies from the pan using the aluminum foil overhangs; then pull the aluminum foil away from the brownies and cut them into 16 square pieces. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to three days. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Orzo With Parmigiano-Reggiano and Basil

Quick, easy and delicious, this recipe for Orzo With Parmigiano-Reggiano and Basil is a sensational side dish for any occasion. A one pot wonder, the orzo is simply sautéed in butter until lightly browned then simmered with chicken broth until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. A handful of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped fresh basil are stirred in at the end, and then seasoned with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Light, luscious and full of fabulous flavour, these five simple ingredients come together as the most mouthwatering and memorable dish.

Orzo With Parmigiano-Reggiano & Basil
Serves 6

3 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups orzo
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup fresh basil, washed, dried and julienned 
salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the orzo and sauté 2 minutes until lightly browned. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the orzo is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Mix in the grated parmesan and sliced basil, and season with salt and pepper. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Broccoli, Mushroom & Dill Frittata with Cheddar

Among the most classic of brunch offerings, omelettes, quiches, and frittatas are also some of the most versatile. Healthy, light and delicious, this low-carb Broccoli, Mushroom & Dill Frittata with Cheddar Cheese is simple to prepare and delicious to make anytime of the year. Italy's version of the Spanish 'tortilla', the frittata is a thick, hearty open-faced omelette with an egg base, and contains more or less anything you like: herbs, vegetables, cheeses, meat, seafood or even pasta. The beautiful thing about frittatas is that there are endless flavour possibilities. Frittatas are cooked either over very low heat on a stove, or in an oven, until the underside is set and the frittata is beautifully puffed up. Unlike an omelette, a frittata is never folded to enclose its contents, but rather is divided into slices, or cut into slender finger food-sized wedges or little squares and served with drinks as an hors d'oeuvre or tapas — 'buen provecho!'

Broccoli, Mushroom & Dill Frittata with Cheddar
Serves 4

8 large eggs
1 cup grated cheddar, feta or gruyère
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups sliced white button or crimini mushrooms
1 head of broccoli, florets only, cut into small pieces
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp herbes de Provence
salt & pepper

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the grated cheese and chopped dill, and set aside. In a medium non-stick sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high and cook the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add the broccoli florets and sliced mushrooms and season with salt, pepper and herbs de Provence. Sauté stirring frequently until the vegetables have softened, about 4-5 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the vegetables and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, sprinkle with a little more dill, then cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until the frittata has set around the edges and the middle is cooked through. If the top is still runny, place the sauté pan in the oven uncovered for 2-3 minutes, until the surface is set. Serve while hot with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice with a splash of sparkling wine for a delicious start to a Sunday morning.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sri Lankan-Style Monkfish Curry with Kari Leaves

Fish curries are among Sri Lanka's most popular dishes, which feature generous pieces of fresh fish or seafood swimming in bright, colourful, fragrantly-spiced broths, which tend to be thinner and more heavily spiced than many Indian versions. Rice is an ever-present antidote to these big flavours. A rich melting pot of cuisines. It seems every nationality that has visited and traded over the years has left its mark – the Dutch, Portuguese, English, Arabs, Malays, Moors and Indians, resulting in a cuisine that is more inclusive of non-native ingredients, brought by international trade moving through the island. 

Along the coasts, one often finds fish, shrimp, or delicate local crab which absorbs brilliant Sri Lankan spices which include fenugreek, cardamom, cumin, fennel seed, cloves, coriander, kari leaves and local cinnamon, often called Ceylon cinnamon, after the island's former name. This sensational Sri Lankan-Style Monkfish Curry with spiced tomato and coconut sauce by Jamie Oliver, combines the vivid flavours of traditional a Sri Lankan fish curry using the tail meat of meaty firm textured monkfish, very similar in taste and texture to lobster, and stands up to the robust ingredients typical of this South Asian cuisine.  

Sri Lankan-Style Monkfish Curry
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Jamie Oliver

1 lb monkfish, skinned and deboned
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 limes or lemons, zest and juice
7 oz brown or aged basmati rice
13 oz tin coconut milk

2 onions
2 cloves of garlic
2-inch piece of ginger
2 fresh green chillies
10 ripe medium tomatoes, on the vine
Vegetable oil, as required
1 small handful of fresh curry leaves
3 cardamom pods
2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 knob of tamarind paste

Slice the monkfish into large chunks and pop in a non-reactive bowl, along with the turmeric, lime zest and juice and a large pinch of sea salt. Mix together to coat the fish, then leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour. 

Peel and finely slice the onions and garlic, peel and finely chop the ginger, then slice the chillies. Roughly chop the tomatoes, keeping them separate. Heat a large casserole pan over a medium–high heat and add a splash of oil, the onion, ginger, garlic, chillies and curry leaves. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the onion is softened and coloured. 

Smash the cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar, then stir them into the pan along with the mustard seeds, cumin, fenugreek and turmeric. Fry for 1 minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tamarind paste or syrup, the coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water, then simmer for 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to break down and the sauce reduces. The sauce can be covered and kept on low heat until ready to add the monkfish, adding additional water as necessary to keep the sauce loose.

Add the rice to a pan with water and a knob of butter or ghee, and cook according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile, finish the sauce. 

Add the monkfish to the sauce and simmer until the fish is cooked through and opaque. Remove and discard the cardamom pods, then serve in a decorative bowl with the rice on the side.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup with Sherry & Herbs

Flavour reigns supreme in this delicious combination of fresh cremini, shiitake, plump portobello and dried mushrooms cooked with dry sherry, beef stock all puréed with rich cream. But instead of puréeing all of the mushroom mixture, half of it is puréed with the half-and-half cream and then combined it with the remainder of the mushroom mixture, producing a rich, creamy and ethereal broth with thick meaty mushrooms in every bite. 

Wild Mushroom Soup with Sherry & Thyme
Serves 6

4 tbsp butter
3 leeks, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp fresh thyme, leaves only
1 lb cremini  mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/4 lb portobello mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 tsp spicy paprika
4 cups beef stock
1 cup heavy cream, such as half and half
2 tbsp flour
3 tbsp dry sherry
1/2 cup minced parsley or chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a small saucepan combine the sherry, 1/2 cup of beef stock and the dried porcini. Bring to  boil, remove from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes.

Dice the leeks and onion. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and onion and cook over low heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour, stir and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms, the porcini with the soaking liquid, and salt and pepper, and continue to cook over low heat, for 7 minutes. Sprinkle in the paprika, and stir. Add the remainder of the beef stock, lower the heat to a low simmer, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly. 

Purée half of the soup in batches, in a blender or food processor. Return the mixture to the pot and gently reheat, over low heat. Stir in the cream and re-season with salt and pepper as desired. Garnish with chopped parsley, chives and a garnish of cream.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Handmade Linguine with White Clam Sauce

Full of all the wonderful flavours from the sea, nothing beats a seductive bowl of Linguine alle Vongole. An essential part of Neapolitan cuisine, this fragrant dish can be prepared two ways: 'rosso', with tomatoes or 'bianco', without. This simple, elegant and tasty recipe pairs fresh clams and a simple sauce with a special secret ingredient — anchovies — which add a hidden depth of flavour to this wonderfully satisfying dish. A classic Italian pasta, this is one of my favourite dishes to make anytime of the year.

Linguine with White Clam Sauce
Serves 6

5 dozen Manila clams
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp butter
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
3 anchovies, minced
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
2 small cans of clams, saving the clam juice
1/2 cup white wine or vermouth
1/2 cup italian parsley, finely chopped; plus extra for garnish
1 tsp salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 pound handmade or quality store-bought linguine

Let the clams drain in cold water for at least one hour. In a large pan that will accommodate the cooked pasta, heat olive oil and butter on medium heat. Add the garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes and cook until just golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the clam juice, white wine, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, partially covered, for 8-10 minutes. 

Place the hard shell Manila clams in a large pot with 1-inch of water and cover. Set on med-high heat and steam for about 6-10 minutes, or until the clams open. Discard the stubborn ones that remain closed. Shuck half of the cooked clams and place in a small bowl with the 2 cans of canned clams. Set aside. Reserve the remaining clams in their shells in the pot and cover. Meanwhile, reheat the sauce if you have allowed it to cool, adding the shucked and canned clams to the sauce and heat gently.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, and add 1 tsp of salt. Cook the linguine until tender but still firm. Drain the linguine and toss it with the sauce, mixing well to combine. Serve the linguine in individual wide rim bowls, and garnish each with the cooked clam and a sprinkle of chopped parsley. Serve with some lovely crusty garlic bread and a nice chilled bottle of white wine.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Gingerbread Spiced Apple Upside-Down Cake

This delectably moist gingerbread-spiced caramelized apple upside-down cake is the perfect dessert for the chilly autumn and winter months. Dark, coppery and intensely flavoured, this delicious cake is made with dark molasses, honey, buttermilk and a trio of fragrant spices, and goes perfectly with a dollop of pillowy soft Calvados Whipped Cream or tangy creme fraiche. As tempting as it may be, don't use a springform pan with a removable bottom, as the syrup will leak out and that would be enormously messy.

Gingerbread Spiced Apple Upside-Down Cake
Serves 12

4 tbsp butter, plus extra for greasing pan
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
4 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch wedges

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup dark molasses
1/3 cup honey
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Calvados whipped cream:
1/2 cup whipping cream, chilled
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp Calvados

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 10-inch cake pan. To make the topping, melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Add the brown sugar and simmer over medium heat, stirring for 5 minutes, then swirl in the salt. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the mixture into the cake pan, spreading with a spatula to distribute evenly. Make circles of overlapping apple slices on top of the brown sugar. Chop any remaining slices and place them in the gaps.

For the batter, blend 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup sugar in a standing mixer set on medium-low, then increase the speed to high and cream until the batter becomes light and fluffy.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, molasses, honey, buttermilk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Alternate adding the egg mixture and the flour mixture to the creamed butter-sugar mixture, then pour the batter into the cake pan. 

Bake at least 45-50 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes. Run a small knife around the edges of pan to loosen the cake, then place a serving platter over the cake and invert onto the platter.

Serve warm or at room temperature with very softly whipped Calvados Whipped Cream, made by whisking the cream with the syrup and Calvados in an electric mixer until cream holds soft peaks. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Asian Sesame Ginger Salmon with Sliced Scallions

Simple and delicious, this sensational recipe for Asian Sesame Ginger Salmon is sweet, fragrant, and full of fabulous flavour. Low-cal and carb-free, the salmon is marinated in an aromatic mixture of sesame oil, rice vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger and garlic, then chilled for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavours to work their magic. While the salmon is marinating, a simple sauce of honey, sesame oil, soy sauce, minced ginger and sesame seeds can be whisked together and gently warmed on low heat, ready to be served over the cooked salmon with a final garnish of sesame seeds and chopped green onions.

Asian Sesame Ginger Salmon
Serves 4

4 organic salmon filets, about 2-pounds
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 tbsp sesame seeds
4 green onions, finely sliced for garnish

Honey, Ginger & Sesame Sauce:
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp sesame seeds

In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, vinegar, brown sugar and whisk well until combined. Add the salmon, cover and refrigerate to marinate, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by combining each of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. 

Preheat oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the salmon on the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the centre is just done. If you like your salmon more well done, simply bake as long as you wish. To serve, spoon some of the sauce over top of the salmon and garnish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and flurry of sliced green onions.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Warm Olives with Rosemary, Lemon & Peperoncino

Plump, glossy and gorgeous, these fragrant Lemon & Rosemary Marinated Olives with Peperoncino are a tangy and tasty hors d'oeuvre with a glass of wine, a lump of cheese and a warm crusty foot of baguette. Sauté the olives with some garlic, hot red pepper, lemon zest, rosemary and some infused olive oil catapults this appetizer to another gastronomic level — one that is fast, easy and quite delicious.

Warm Lemon & Rosemary Mixed Olives
Makes 2 cups

3 tbsp olive oil
2 cups mixed olives with pits: nicoise, cerignola, kalamata, picholine
1 clove of garlic, minced
zest of one lemon
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 hot red pepper, seeded and sliced thinly
Garnishes: rosemary sprig, lemon rind strips

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sliced pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the mixed olives and lemon zest and cook, stirring frequently, until warmed though and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 10-15 minutes. Garnish with some lemon curls and fresh rosemary sprigs. Serve warm with some crusty bread and your favourite cheeses.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Barley, Wild Rice & Chickpea Salad with Cranberries

With its delicate nutty flavour and sturdy texture, wild rice makes a delicious basis for this healthy high-fibre Barley & Wild Rice Salad. The addition of sliced green onions, chickpeas and toasted pine nuts tossed together with a tangy vinaigrette makes this salad a nutritional powerhouse. Mixed-grain salads deliver a great combination of flavours and textures as well as folate and vitamin E for a strong and healthy heart — very important for those cardio workouts. Adding beans to grains also creates the key combination of protein and carbs that helps muscles repair and refuel themselves, which makes this Barley & Wild Rice Salad with chickpeas and dried cranberries a nutritional powerhouse with heart-healthy goodness that's also rich with great flavour.

Barley, Wild Rice & Chickpea Salad with Dried Cranberries
Serves 6

1 3/4 cups chicken broth 
1/2 cup uncooked brown and wild rice mix
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
3/4 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained 
1/3 cup golden raisins 
1/4 cup sliced green onions 
2 tbsp red wine vinegar 
1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil 
1 tsp Dijon mustard 
1/4 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Place the chicken broth, rice and barley in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, and let stand, covered for 5 minutes. Spoon rice mixture into a medium bowl. Add the chickpeas, raisins, green onions and cranberries.

Combine the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl, and stir with a whisk. Pour over barley mixture and toss well. Cover and chill for two. Stir in the basil and pine nuts and serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Stracciatella Soup with Spinach, Leeks & Orzo

Nearly every culture has a soup based on chicken and egg. Sometimes it's in the form of egg and flour dumplings such as the Russian-German Knephla Soup, or the Algerian Djari Byad which sees egg yolks and lemon juice being whisked into chicken soup at the last moment. This dish is an example of how the Italians can also take the simplest of ingredients and put them together in a way that looks, smells and tastes absolutely delicious. Stracciatella is a rustic Roman egg-drop soup that's traditionally served with a handful of cheese, but in this modern version, spinach, orzo, chicken and sautéed leeks have also been added for a rich and satisfying twist on the Italian classic.

The name Stracciatella translates as 'torn apart' or 'rags' in Italian, which aptly describes the eggs, which look like tiny torn rags as they cook in the broth. This easy recipe is prepared by simply adding sautéed leeks, shredded chicken, grated pecorino, salt, pepper, parsley, nutmeg, and orzo to boiling chicken broth. Beaten egg is then added in a slow stream to produce the stracciatelle, or little shreds of cooked egg, producing a rich and satisfying dish from the simplest of ingredients. 

Stracciatella with Spinach, Leeks & Orzo
Serves 4-6

1 tbsp olive oil
2 bone-in chicken breasts with skin on
1 cup thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only
1 tbsp chopped Italian parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 cup cooked or frozen spinach, chopped
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
6 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup orzo
2 large eggs
1/4 cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste

Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and ground pepper. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the chicken, skin side down, and sauté until browned, about five minutes. Turn the chicken over and brown the other side, about another three minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside on a plate. Do not drain the oil from the pot.

Add the chopped leeks, parsley, spinach and nutmeg, and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the leeks begin to soften, about three minutes. Pour in 6 cups of the chicken stock, reserving the last 1/2 cup for the eggs. Return the chicken to the pot, cover and let the soup simmer gently for 20 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, beat two eggs with the remaining 1/2 cup of chicken stock and 1/4 cup of parmesan until smooth. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and set aside.

After 20 minutes, add the orzo, cover and let cook about 7-8 minutes, until it's almost cooked through. Once the orzo is al dente, remove the chicken breasts from the soup, remove and discard the skin. Using two forks, pull the meat off the bone and shred into bite sized pieces. Return the chopped chicken to the soup and discard the bones.

Pour the beaten egg mixture into the soup, whisking vigorously. Turn the heat to medium-high and simmer, whisking occasionally for five minutes. Don’t be alarmed if the soup begins to look curdled, that’s how it looks as the eggs cook. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, ladle into warmed soup bowl and garnish with grated parmesan and chopped Italian parsley.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Lemon & Orange Poppyseed Bread with Syrup Glaze

Bursting with flavour, and infused with the sweet, slightly tart flavour of fragrant lemon and orange peel, melted butter and studded with poppy seeds, this delicious Lemon & Orange Poppyseed Bread is perfect for breakfast or with a hot cup of tea in the middle of the afternoon. The crowning glory is the sweet sugary lemon-orange glaze that's brushed over the cake while it's still warm, infusing the bread with a sweet and tangy citrus flavour that will keep it moist and delicious for days. So if you're needing a little taste of summer, this light and luscious Lemon & Orange Poppyseed Bread will definitely add some sunshine to the day.

Lemon & Orange Poppyseed Bread
Makes 1 loaf

3 Large Eggs
2 tsp pure Vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp coarsely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp coarsely grated orage zest
3 tbsp poppy seeds
13 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Lemon Orange Syrup:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2/3 cup granulated white sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour the bottom and sides of a loaf pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and butter and flour the paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, and milk, then set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, orange zest and poppy seeds until well combined. Add the softened butter and half the egg mixture and mix on low speed until moistened. Increase the speed to medium and beat for about one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the remaining egg mixture and beat well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 55-65 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. When the bread is done, remove from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool slightly.

To make the lemon orange syrup, place the sugar, and fresh squeezed lemon and orange juice to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until the sugar is dissolved, stirring constantly.  

Pierce the warm loaf all over with a toothpick, then brush the top of the loaf with about half of the hot lemon syrup. Brush the remaining syrup onto the bottom and the sides of the loaf. Let the lemon loaf cool before wrapping and storing overnight, to allow the lemon syrup to penetrate the loaf.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Broccoli, Leek & Anchovy Linguine with Fresh Chives

The best recipes tend to be those that are deceptively simple, absolutely delicious and take very little time to prepare. Inevitably, they're also the dishes that we prepare over and over again. This easy and inexpensive Broccoli, Leek & Anchovy pasta sauce is one of those recipes. The key is to sauté the broccoli, leeks and anchovies in olive oil until they virtually dissolve into a luscious paste that coats the pasta for a delicious and soul satisfying simple dinner. 

Broccoli, Leek & Anchovy Linguine with Chives
Serves 4

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 leek, trimmed, washed and finely sliced
1 bunch fresh broccoli, broken into small florets
12 flat anchovy fillets, chopped very fine
1 lb dried pasta, such as linguine, spaghettini, orecchiette etc
1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/4 cup cream, optional
salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
4 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped plus some whole for garnish

Add the oil and butter to a sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil begins to warm up, add the chopped leeks and cook until soft, about 6-8 minutes. Then place the broccoli florets and chopped anchovies into the pan and cook, stirring and mashing the mixture with the back of a wooden spoon, to dissolve them as much as possible into a paste. You may need to add a little more oil if the mixture becomes too dry. Add some fresh cracked black pepper, then taste for seasoning, adding a wee bit of salt if you like, keeping in mind that anchovies are already quite salty. 

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil over high heat and cook the pasta until it is 'al dente' - firm yet tender. Drain the pasta in a colander placed into your kitchen sink, shaking off excess water then toss into the sauce and toss to coat. Add half of the grated cheese, and toss thoroughly once again. I added a little cream at the end for some extra richness and finished with a garnish of fresh chopped chives. The pasta should be served immediately with the reserved parmigiano-reggiano on the side, for guests to serve themselves.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Massaman Beef Curry: A Thai Culinary Classic

Massaman Curry is a Thai dish of Muslim origin, which according to one theory, originated in central Thailand at the court of Ayutthaya in the 16th-century through a Persian envoy and trader. According to another theory, it originated in southern Thailand due to contacts with Arab traders. In light of the recipe's Muslim roots, this coconut-based curry is most commonly made with beef, but can also be made with lamb, duck, tofu, chicken, or even pork. The flavouring for the curry usually includes coconut milk, potatoes, and roasted peanuts or cashews, in addition to a range of other aromatic ingredients which include ginger, garlic, lime leaves, lemongrass, cilantro, chilies, onions, cumin seeds, cardamom, palm sugar, fish sauce, shrimp paste and tamarind sauce, however lime juice works just as well. I prefer to make my own paste and sauce rather than using a store-bought version, as it produces fresher more vibrant results.

Massaman Beef Curry
Serves 4-6

2 lb beef, cut into cubes 
2 1/2 cups beef stock
1/3 cup diced onion
2 stalks lemongrass, smashed
3 kaffir lime leaves
2 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves

Curry Sauce:
1 thumb-piece ginger, grated
4-5 cloves garlic, slivered
1/2 tsp chili flakes 
1/4 cup chopped cashews
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp ground cardamon
6 star anise
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp shrimp paste 
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 14 oz can coconut milk

Place stock in a large pot over high heat and add the the beef, onion, lemongrass and lime leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce to low. Partially cover and simmer 60 to 80 minutes, stirring occasionally until meat is tender.

Add all the curry sauce ingredients plus the potatoes, stirring with each addition, holding back a few tablespoons of the coconut milk for serving, if desired. Return to a boil, then continue to simmer uncovered for 30 more minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

Transfer the curry to a serving bowl or individual dinner bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro and some additional nuts if desired. Drizzle with reserved coconut milk and serve with Thai jasmine rice. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Potato and Leek Soup with Bacon & Dill

Of all the classic winter soups, Potato and Leek is one of the most rich and satisfying, the perfect antidote to the season's cold weather. Simple and delicious, this heartwarming soup is taken up a notch with two perfect partners — dill and bacon. A traditional Irish dish, rich and creamy Potato and Leek Soup is frugal, filling and full of flavour, and can also be made in 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 mintes. The soup is then puréed with dill until silky smooth and seasoned with salt and white pepper. Hearty, warm and delicious, Potato and Leek Soup with Bacon & Dill is one of the ultimate winter warmers.

Potato and Leek Soup with Bacon & Dill
Serves 4-6

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 cream
1/4 cup sour cream, for garnish
5 rashers 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.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Kerala-Style King Prawn & Monkfish Curry

Rich, warm, fragrant and flavourful, this luscious Kerala-style curry made with plump juicy prawns and meaty monkfish, is cooked in a creamy coconut milk sauce and aromatic blend of Indian spices sautéed with onions, tomatoes and fresh kari leaves, for an elegant and delicious dish easy to prepare anytime of the year. Typical of the coconut-based curries found on the beautiful Kerala coast of Southern India, this King Prawn & Monkfish Curry is perfect served with a bowl of steamed basmati rice and ice cold Kingfisher beer.

Kerala-Style King Prawn & Monkfish Curry
Serves 2

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
15-20 kari leaves
1/2 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 tsp Sriracha hot chili sauce 
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 ripe tomato, chopped into 1/8-inch dice
1/2 lb monkfish tail, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 raw king prawns, peeled and deveined, keeping tails on
1 cup coconut milk
1 bunch of fresh coriander, washed and leaves picked
1/2 lime, juiced

Basmati Rice:
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups water
1 tsp ghee
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp chopped cilantro, for garnish

Heat the oil in a heavy pan or wok over medium-high and add the mustard and fenugreek seeds, ground coriander, cumin, turmeric and curry leaves, and fry covered for 10-15 seconds. Add the finely chopped onions and sauté stirring frequently until they become soft, about 10-15 minutes. Then stir in the ginger, garlic and diced tomato and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the prawns and monkfish and cook until opaque and just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Finally, reduce the heat to low, add the coconut milk, chopped cilantro and squeeze of lime juice, cover and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, put a pot of water on to boil for the basmati rice and cook according to the package instructions. Stir in the ghee and chopped cilantro once done and serve the rice garnished with lemon zest. Serve the curry in a warm serving bowl, garnish with chopped cilantro, along with the basmati rice.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Chicken Marsala with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Chicken Marsala is an Italian dish made from chicken, mushrooms and Marsala wine. The chicken is traditionally pounded into cutlets, coated in flour, briefly sautéed, and then removed from the pan, which is then used to make a Marsala reduction sauce. I prefer to use bone-in chicken breasts with the skin on, and roasted whole in the oven until they are crisp and golden brown. Brushing the breasts with oil and seasoning with black pepper, paprika and a liberal dose of kosher salt ensures a perfect crisp outer skin. Just before the breasts finish roasting, I begin the Marsala Mushroom Cream Sauce, by first sautéeing the mushrooms in a little butter and olive oil until they're soft and fragrant. Some marsala wine or dry sherry is then added and cooked for about 5 minutes until it reduces slightly. The cream and fresh thyme are stirred in at the end, and cooked over a reduced heat for another 6 to 8 minutes. Thick, creamy and absolutely swimming with mushrooms, the sauce is poured over the chicken breasts, that have been arranged in a warm platter, and garnished with a tangle of fresh thyme. Served with sautéed new potatoes and a spinach or vegetable gratin, this is an easy and delicious recipe that's guaranteed to impress.

Chicken Marsala with Mushroom Cream Sauce
Serves 4

4 chicken breasts, bone-in and skin-on
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika

Marsala Mushroom Cream Sauce:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb sliced crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
3/4 cup Marsala or Sherry
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, plus whole sprigs for garnish
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat the chicken breasts with vegetable oil and set on a foil lined baking pan. Season with fresh ground black pepper, paprika and a generous sprinkle of kosher salt — the more salt, the crisper the skin. Roast the chicken breasts for 35-45 minutes, depending on the size of the breasts, until they are crisp and golden brown. Turn off the oven, cover the chicken with aluminium foil and begin the Marsala Cream Sauce.

Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the mushrooms and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mushrooms are barely cooked through. Add the Marsala or Sherry and cook for 5 minutes allowing the wine to slightly reduce. Stir in the heavy cream and thyme leaves, reduce the heat to medium and cook the mushroom sauce for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the chicken breasts from the oven and arrange on a warm serving platter. Spoon the Marsala Mushroom Cream Sauce over top, and garnish with fresh sprigs of thyme.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Mahi Mahi with Spinach, Mash & Lemon Beurre Blanc

Mahi-Mahi is the Hawaiian name for this tropical, warm water fish, sometimes referred to as Dorado or Dolphinfish, not because they have any relation to 'Flipper', but because they're often found swimming among Dolphins. Mahi-Mahi, like Swordfish, ranges in colour from white to dark pinkish-brown and has a mild sweet flavour with firm white flesh: white to light beige fillets are mild flavoured, while light pink to pinkish-brown are more heavily flavoured. Mahi-Mahi is very versatile and adapts amazingly well to a range of flavours and cooking methods. It's delicious baked, broiled, grilled, pan-fried, deep-fried, pan-seared, poached or sautéed, like this fabulous Sautéed Mahi-Mahi with Spinach, Gorgonzola Chive Mash and Lemon Dill Beurre Blanc Sauce.

Sautéed Mahi Mahi with Spinach, Gorgonzola Mash and Lemon Dill Beurre Blanc
Serves 2

2 6 oz Mahi Mahi fillets, with skin on
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, juice and zest
2 bunches fresh spinach, trimmed and washed
1 bunch chives, chopped for garnish
2 tbsp red and green baby lettuce, chopped for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste

Lemon Dill Beurre Blanc Sauce:
1 cup dry white wine 
1/3 cup shallot, finely diced 
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes 
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill 
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest 
2 tsp fresh lemon juice, more to taste 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Gorgonzola & Chive Mashed Potatoes:
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, washed
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cups whipping cream
2 tbsp Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
2 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling water until tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the butter, whipping cream, Gorgonzola, salt and white pepper over low to medium heat until warm, stirring frequently. When potatoes are cooked to fork tender, drain well and return them to the pot. Slowly add the warm cream mixture to the potatoes, mashing and blending well to your desired consistency, then stir in the chives. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm until needed.

To make the sauce, cook the wine and shallot in a saucepan over high heat, stirring until the wine almost evaporates and looks glazy, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter a couple of cubes at a time until it's melted and the sauce becomes thick and creamy, briefly returning the pan to low heat if the butter is slow to melt. Off the heat, stir in the dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt, and several grinds of pepper. Cover and set aside on low heat to keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat another saucepan over a medium to high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the spinach to the pan and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes, until the spinach begins to wilt. Season the spinach to taste with salt and pepper, cover and set side on low heat.

Heat a large nonstick sauté pan over a moderate to high heat until it is hot, then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan then add the fish, skin side down. Cook the fish for 4 minutes until the skin is crisp and golden. Turn the fish over and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add a squeeze the lemon juice over the fish, and cook for another minute or two, basting the fish with the juices in the pan, or until the fish is just cooked through but still moist.

To serve, place a mound of spinach in the center of 2 warm dinner plates, top with a scoop of gorgonzola mashed potato, and finish with a Mahi-Mahi fillet on top. Drizzle the lemon beurre blanc around the plate and garnish with finely chopped red and green baby lettuce, some chopped chives and serve.