Saturday, December 02, 2006

spiced black beans for breakfast wraps

1 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ shallot, minced
1 can (19 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ tsp crushed chilli flakes
1 tsp Cajun spice
3 tbs salsa
1 cup water
kosher salt

Heat olive oil in a medium pot set over medium heat. Add minced garlic and shallot and cook until translucent and soft. Add black beans, chilli, Cajun spice, salsa and water. Bring to a simmer and lower heat. Simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until liquid evaporates. Season with kosher salt to taste.

For wraps: Wrap two scrambled eggs and slices of Jack cheese in a whole wheat tortilla. Top with fresh guacamole, your favourite salsa, and black beans. Serve with hot sauce; optional.

panna cotta with wine poached pears

3 leaves unflavoured gelatine
¾ cup milk
1 ¼ cup whipping cream
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla

In a small bowl, soak leaves of gelatine in ¼ cup of the milk. Let bloom for 3 to 5 minutes until softened.

In a large saucepan, combine remaining milk, cream and sugar. Heat and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is hot. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Add gelatine mixture and mix well. Strain into a large liquid measure. Pour into four ¾ cup ramekins. Chill for several hours or overnight, until set.

To unmold , dip underside of ramekins into hot water for about 15 seconds, then turn over and gingerly coax Panna Cotta onto serving plates. Serve with slices of poached pear and a drizzle of the reduced poaching liquid. (Shown also with tuile caramelized roasted chestnuts).

Poached Pears
1 cup red wine
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 medium pears, peeled and quartered

In a medium pot, combine red wine, sugar and water. Heat over medium, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add pears. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, gently turning pears from time to time. Remove pears and continue reducing liquid down to the consistency of a glaze. Chill pears and liquid for several hours or overnight.

barely-cured salmon

7 oz extremely fresh salmon, “skin off fillet”
4 tbs kosher salt
2 tbs brown sugar
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp dried Herbes de Provence, rubbed
or 1 tbs fresh chopped herbs
package bread sticks

Mix together salt, sugar, pepper and herbs. Add half to the bottom of a shallow baking dish. Press fillet into mixture. Cover fillet with remaining salt mixture. Drape with plastic wrap and place a smaller dish on top of fish. Place a weight, such as a heavy tin of food, in the top dish. Refrigerate for at least six hours for the fish to be a little more cured than sashimi, or a full day to cure it further. Slice thinly and serve with breadsticks.

glazed duck breasts

(serves 2)
2 duck breasts
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 small shallot, finely sliced
1-inch piece cinnamon, crushed
1 tbs canola oil

Score duck breasts with a sharp knife by making parallel slices in the skin, about ¼-inch apart. On a 90-degree angle to the first cuts, repeat, making a grid pattern of ¼-inch squares.

Combine brown sugar, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Together with sliced shallots and cinnamon, spread on both sides of duck breasts. Place skin side down in a shallow baking dish and refrigerate for at least half an hour. Discard cinnamon.

Preheat a well seasoned or non-stick skillet over medium-high. Add oil, sear duck breasts skin side down for approx 3 minutes, or until skin is golden. Place in a 375F oven for about 3 minutes, turn breast over, cook another 3 minutes, until duck reaches an internal temperature of 150F. Remove from oven and let rest for five minutes before slicing. Duck should be served pink.

Where to find it: Look for duck, usually in the freezer section, in specialty meat shops such as L&D Meats on Gordon Drive.

stuffed apples

for each apple
1 tsp butter
2 tbs rolled oats
1 tbs brown sugar
3 whole pecans, chopped

Core apple and set aside. In a small bowl whisk together oats, sugar and pecans. Thoroughly cut in butter. Pack mixture firmly into cored apple from both top and bottom to get all the filling inside. Place apple on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, or until apple is tender to the tip of a sharp knife. Serve hot, unaccompanied or with cream - whipped or drizzled - or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

For 4 apples
1 generous tbs butter
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup chopped pecans

Note: single apples can be baked in a toaster oven if it has enough clearance to fit the apple inside without it touching the top element.

deep fried mini mars bars

mini Mars bars, chilled
1 cup flour
¼ cup plus 2 tbs cornstarch
¼ cup fine cornmeal
pinch baking soda
1 1/3 cup milk
oil for deep frying

Note: if fine cornmeal is unavailable, grind regular cornmeal in a clean blade-style coffee maker.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cornmeal and baking soda. Add milk and whisk. Add more milk, if necessary, so that the mixture is the consistency of crepe batter.

Heat oil to 370F. Coat bars in batter and carefully place in hot oil. Fry until golden. May be served with ice cream or something tart to offset the richness of the dish. Batter makes as few or as many minis as you want and can easily be halved.

roasted garlic soup

3 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 lbs yellow potatoes, peeled, cut into ½-inch pieces
3 bulbs garlic
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper

Slice off top third of each head of garlic. Line a small baking pan with parchment paper and place garlic bulbs on top. Drizzle with 1 tbs of the oil. Sprinkle with salt and roast at 350F for about 45 minutes, until garlic cloves are very tender. Let cool slightly then, wearing foodservice gloves, squeeze cloves from garlic heads. Discard husks.

Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion and sauté until lightly golden. Add stock, potatoes and roasted garlic. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until potatoes are tender to the tip of a knife. Puree coarsely using a hand blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

savoury potato and sausage tart "aka: easy bake dinner"

1 tbs butter, melted, plus more for pan
4 cups shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
½ small onion, small dice
1/3 med red pepper, diced
½ cup diced kielbasa sausage
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
9 large eggs
¾ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper

Heat oven to 375F. Butter the insides of a 7-inch spring form pan. Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.

Squeeze any excess moisture from hash browns. In a large bowl, combine hash browns with butter, onion, red pepper, sausage,1 cup of the cheddar, salt and pepper. Whisk eggs and add to hash brown mixture; fold to combine. Transfer to prepared pan, top with remaining cheese and bake 45 to 50 minutes or until, when pan is shaken, the middle jiggles but the sides are set. Remove from oven and let set a few minutes before unmoulding.

pumpkin bread pudding

6 large day-old cinnamon bagels
4 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbs pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt

Slice bagels in half, then into ¾-inch pieces. In a very large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, milk, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, spice, vanilla and salt. Add bagel pieces. Drape surface with plastic wrap. Place a dinner plate on top and weigh down with a heavy can. Let bagels soak for 40 minutes until saturated.

Heat oven to 300F. Transfer pudding mixture to a large baking dish and place on a baking sheet. Bake until firm in the centre, 60-70 minutes, testing the centre for doneness with a cake tester. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

leek mashed potatoes

2 lbs yellow potatoes
2 medium leeks
3 tbs butter
½ cup cream
salt, pepper

Slice potatoes in half lengthwise (if using new potatoes, there’s no need to peel). Place in a large pot and cover with cool water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender to the tip of a knife; drain.

Meanwhile, thinly slice leeks (white and light green parts only). In a small pot, melt 2 tbs of the butter over medium-low heat. Add leeks and cook until tender. Add cream and simmer until potatoes are cooked.

Mash potatoes together with remaining butter. Mash in leek mixture, season to taste, and serve.

banana hazelnut crepes

1 ½ cups flour
1 tbs sugar
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
½ tsp vanilla
2 tbs canola oil
about 2 tbs butter for cooking

In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Whisk in remaining ingredients, except for the butter, until smooth; don’t over mix.

Heat a crêpe pan or small non-stick or well-seasoned frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add 1/2 tsp of butter and allow to melt and coat the pan, then wipe away excess with a paper towel. Spoon about 2 tbs of the crêpe batter onto the hot pan and tilt the pan to spread the batter evenly. Cook about 30 seconds, until the crêpe begins to just brown around the edges. Turn over and cook another 30 seconds. Slide crêpe onto a plate and continue cooking with the rest of the batter. When crêpes begin to stick, re-butter the pan.

To serve, thinly (the amount is a matter of preference) spread each crêpe with Nutella and ½ banana, sliced. Fold crêpe in half, then in half again.

Note: Versions of these crêpes are the favourite of restaurant customers everywhere. To make your own chocolate-hazelnut spread, visit for a recipe.

chicken wings

1 ½ tsp coarse ground pepper
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp curry powder
1 ½ tsp salt
juice of ¼ lime
½ cup canola oil
1 lb chicken wings

Combine spices. Place chicken wings in a medium bowl and squeeze lime over top. Add spice mixture and toss to coat evenly.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add chicken wings and pan fry for a few minutes, just until lightly browned. Transfer wings to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 450F for about 15 minutes, until cooked. Serve with carrot and celery sticks and a creamy dressing like Blue Cheese or Ranch.

absolute "crackerjacks"

4 cups fresh popped popcorn (not microwavable)
½ cup pecan halves
½ cup salted peanuts
½ cup sliced almonds
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
½ cup butter
½ cup corn syrup
¼ cup honey
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp baking soda

In a large bowl, lightly salt popcorn. Toss together with nuts.

In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, butter, corn syrup and honey. Place over medium heat and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Continue to boil for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat then add vanilla and baking soda. Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and toss to coat well. Scrape coated popcorn onto a large baking sheet and bake at 250F for 1 hour. Stir several times during baking. Scrape onto Silpat or parchment paper and allow to cool, then break apart. Store in a covered container.

halibut with tomatoes

(serves 4)
approx 500g fresh halibut
100g thinly sliced prosciutto
4 Roma tomatoes, halved
½ cup olive oil
12-13 fresh basil leaves, torn

Toss together tomatoes and basil and place in a small roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 325F oven for an hour to an hour and a half, until tomatoes are very soft. Remove from oven and set aside to stay warm. Turn oven up to 450F.

Slice halibut into 4 servings. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, wrap in prosciutto. Place a skillet over medium high heat and add a little vegetable oil to keep halibut from sticking. Pan fry halibut for about 1 minute, turn over and place in the oven for about 5 minutes. Do not overcook.

Notes: To serve as shown, place two tomato halves on each plate, together with a few lightly cooked fresh green beans. Place serving of halibut on top. Finish with fennel salad that’s been lightly dressed with olive oil, a dash of cider vinegar and salt and pepper.


(makes 16)

3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
½ cup cream
2 tbs butter, melted
1 tsp salt
flour to make a stiff dough (5-6 cups)

In the bowl of a powerful electric mixer (ie: Kitchen Aid) whisk together eggs, milk, cream, melted butter and salt. Using the dough hook attachment add flour, a cup at a time. After about 4 ½ to 5 cups, turn dough out onto countertop and knead by hand, incorporating more flour as needed. (The consistency of the dough should be similar to pasta dough, but it’s a matter of preference.) Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. Divide in half and cover with plastic wrap.

For the Saskatoon Berry filling (fills 8):
approx. ¾ lb Saskatoons (or blueberries, prune plums etc)
approx. 8 generous tsp sugar

Roll out ½ of the dough to a rectangle, between 1/8 and ¼-inch thick. Cut into 8 equal rectangles. Pinch together sides to form a pocket. Fill with berries and 1 tsp sugar. Pinch closed. Into a simmering pot of water add 4 pockets at a time, making sure the dough doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Return water to a simmer and continue cooking, turning pockets occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place pockets into a casserole dish. Dot with butter to keep from sticking. Cover and place in a warm oven. Repeat with remaining pockets.

For cottage cheese filling (fills 8):
½ lb dry curd cottage cheese
1 large egg
½ tsp salt

Process cottage cheese in a food mill or food processor. Blend in egg and salt. Repeat steps to cook.

Cream Gravy:
2-3 tbs butter
¼ cup flour
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
½ tsp salt

In a small saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Add salt and flour and whisk to form a paste. Whisking constantly, slowly add milk. When mixture thickens, slowly add cream. Continue cooking/whisking until the flour is cooked. Adjust consistency with flour and milk or cream as desired (Mennonite cooking is never exact).

tempura vegetables

(makes about 10 servings)
2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup cornstarch
2 tbs baking powder
1 tbs curry powder
½ tbs Chinese 5 spice
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
1 cup iced water
flour for dredging the vegetables
Canola oil for deep frying

In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Gradually pour in water, mixing to form a light batter.

Vegetable suggestions: Slices of butternut squash, zucchini and carrots; broccoli and cauliflower florets; wedges of deseeded bell peppers and apples. Pieces should be no more than a couple of bites in size, thin enough to be cooked in the oil in a matter of minutes.

In a heavy, small pot, heat about 2 inches of oil to 375-degrees. A few pieces at a time, using disposable bamboo chopsticks, dredge the vegetables in flour, then dip into batter to coat thoroughly but lightly. Deep fry until golden brown, turning over to cook on both sides. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Serve immediately. Excellent with sushi.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

brown sugar sauteed peaches with cream

(serves 2)
2 medium ripe peaches
1 tbs butter
4 tsp brown sugar
whipping cream, whipped

Slice peaches. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Melt butter. Quickly add sugar and stir just once or twice to combine. Add sliced peaches and toss or stir occasionally, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Remove peaches with a slotted spoon and set aside. Continue to cook sauce until it caramelizes, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Divide peaches into two dessert dishes and drizzle with caramel. Top with whipping cream and serve immediately.

warm beet salad

10 medium mixed beets
3 shallots
6 slices bacon
1 tsp olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper

Place whole, unpeeled beets in a large pot and cover with cool water (note: cook red beets separately). Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue simmering for about an hour, depending on size, or until beets are tender to the tip of a knife. Drain. When just cooled enough to handle, squeeze beets, they should pop out of their skins; otherwise, peel with a knife. Slice into wedges.

Slice shallots and bacon. Heat skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tsp olive oil. Add bacon and cook. Add shallots and cook until translucent. Add beets and toss until warm. Transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with red wine vinegar and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Note: For this recipe, candy-stripe, golden, white and red cylinder beets were used.

Where to find it: Look for designer beets at local vegetable farms and farmer’s markets.

lavender ice cream

(courtesy of Okanagan Lavender)
1 tbs sugar
¼ tsp vanilla
½ cup half-and-half or table cream
6 sprigs fresh organic lavender (or 1 tbs dried buds)
3 tbs coarse or pickling salt
Lots of ice cubes
sandwich-size Ziplock freezer baggy

Stir together sugar, vanilla, cream and lavender in a small bowl. Let steep in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Strain out lavender. Transfer cream mixture to baggy and seal.

Fill a 2-liter thermos ¾ full with ice cubes and sprinkle with the salt. Place baggies inside and close container.

Roll container around for about 10 minutes. Check to see if ice cream is frozen. If not, keep rolling for another 5 minutes. Remove bag from container and rinse off salt to keep from contaminating the ice cream. Serve garnished with sprigs of fresh lavender.

Notes: This can also be done in an ice cream maker. Multiply the recipe until you have the desired amount, then follow machine manufacturer’s directions.

Where to find it: Make sure you use lavender that’ve been grown without pesticides. Plant your own next spring, or visit Okanagan Lavender. Dried buds are available by mail order at

favourite flavours for the grill

(Blends from the Canadiana Spicery)

Chicken - “Red Pepper and Garlic”
Lamb - “Herbes de Provence”
Steak - “BBQ Blend”
Burgers - into a standard hamburger mixture of beef, eggs and breadcrumbs add “Garlic and Herb Medley”
Pork - “Asian Stir Fry”
Duck - “Chinese 5 Spice”
Venison - “Hunter’s Blend”
Salmon - “Spicy Seasoned Salt”
Corn on the cob - “Country Pepper:
Zucchini - “Herbes de Provence”
Eggplant - “Italian Herbs”
Potatoes, carrots and onions - “Unique Greek”

Prepare meats for the grill by rubbing on all sides with vegetable oil. Season with salt and spice blends. For zucchini or eggplant, toss with vegetable oil salt and spice blends. Place corn on the cob or a mixture of potatoes, carrots and onions on parchment paper-lined sheets of aluminium foil. Dot with butter and season with salt and spice blends; seal foil into packets. Place on preheated grilling surface and cook until desired doneness (note: vegetables take longer to cook than meats).

Where to find it: Canadiana Spicery blends are available online at

seasonal berry parfaits

½ cup cream, whipped
1 tsp vanilla sugar
2 small chocolate sponges
2 cups ice cream
2 cups seasonal fresh berries
1 ½ oz Framboise

Whip vanilla sugar into whipped cream. Into each of two large parfait glasses, drizzle ½ oz of the Framboise. Crumble 1/3 of the sponge cake and layer into the glasses, followed by 1/3 of the berries, ice cream and whipped cream. Repeat until ingredients are used, drizzling the remaining Framboise over top.

Notes: Substitute 1 tsp sugar and ½ tsp vanilla extract for the vanilla sugar. To make vanilla sugar for future use, place one vanilla pod into a jar of sugar and allow the scent to infuse. Some people, myself included, may prefer the parfait without the addition of the chocolate sponges. However, leftover cake of almost any kind may be used in their place. For an excellent substitute visit to find a recipe for grapefruit pound cake.

Where to find it: Framboise is a raspberry liqueur. Elephant Island Orchard Winery in Naramata makes Framboise using Fraser Valley raspberries. Look for it while visiting the winery, or in select liquor stores.

peasy purses

2 cups shelled fresh peas
1 tbs virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp grated fresh ginger
1 ½ tsp minced garlic
1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
½ tsp honey
1 ½ tsp minced cilantro
1 ½ tsp minced mint leaves
6 sheets phyllo pastry
salt/pepper to taste
olive oil for brushing phyllo

Place peas in a food processor. Pulse a few times until peas are evenly coarse in consistency. Transfer to a skillet and add olive oil, ginger, garlic, lemon juice and honey. Place over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in cilantro and mint. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Divide into 12 equal portions.

Dampen a clean kitchen towel and place over sheets of phyllo to keep from drying out. Starting with one sheet, brush half (width wise) lightly with oil and fold over. Cut in half to form two squares. Spoon pea mixture into centre of pastry. Bring corners up and twist into purses. Repeat with remaining sheets. Place on a Silpat- or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake at 350-degrees for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot.

saskatoon-berry jelly roll

¾ cup cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ cup milk
2 tbs butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
5 large eggs
½ tsp almond extract
1 cup Saskatoon-berry jam
1/2 cup cream, whipped to stiff peaks

Grease an 11 by 17-inch baking sheet. Line with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Spread out a large square of parchment paper on your work surface. Onto it, sift the cake flour together with the baking powder three times. Set aside.

Add milk and butter to a small saucepan and place over oven vent to melt the butter.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, eggs and almond extract. Whip with the whisk attachment on high speed until mixture is the consistency of soft-whipped cream (about 3-4 minutes). Transfer to a very large mixing bowl. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mixture over the egg mixture and gently fold in. Repeat twice.

Meanwhile, bring milk and butter to a simmer over medium heat. Pour over batter and mix thoroughly (about 6-7 strokes). With a rubber spatula, scrape into lined baking sheet and spread evenly. Bake in centre of the oven for about 8 minutes, until sponge is lightly golden and springs back to the touch.

Spread out a sheet of aluminium foil the same size as the baking sheet. Release cake from edges with a knife and turn over onto foil. Leave parchment on cake and allow to cool completely. Peel away foil (the darker top of the sponge will peel away with it). Spread sponge to edges with jam and whipped cream, leaving ¾-inch along one of the long sides. Gently, but firmly, roll up lengthwise, using the parchment paper to help roll. Wrap in aluminium foil. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate to set for several hours before slicing.

warm orzo salad

500 g pkg orzo, cooked to al dente
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup tarragon white wine vinegar
juice of ½ lemon
½ tsp lemon zest
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp lemon pepper
¼ medium red onion, finely diced
½ medium red pepper, finely diced
leaves from 3 sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
½ pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup crumbled feta

Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and zest, Tabasco sauce, brown sugar, salt and lemon pepper. Drizzle over drained, warm pasta and toss. Chop vegetables and parsley and toss into dressed pasta. Add crumbled feta and toss. Serve warm or cold.

Serving suggestions: Serve orzo salad with soft rolls or buttered slices of baguette. Combine in a picnic with other cold summer dishes including roasted chicken, a selection of excellent cheese and sliced avocados.

Where to find it: Orzo is available in the pasta isle of most grocery stores. For the most excellent varieties, visit specialty markets.

bruleed quark tark with berries

400g Quark
2 eggs
½ cup honey
2 tbs Demerara sugar
½ tsp lime juice
1 cup of mixed berries, fresh or frozen
24 - 3” tart shells
granulated sugar for bruléed tops

Place tart shells on a large baking sheet. Parbake for 8 minutes at 375-degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine quark, eggs, honey, sugar and lime juice. Beat until smooth. Fold in berries. Divide mixture among tart shells and continue baking at 300-degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool completely.

Lightly sprinkle granulated sugar over the tops of each of the tarts. Using a kitchen torch, gently wave the flame over the sugar until it melts and caramelizes.

Where to find it: For incomparable quark, visit Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm in Salmon Arm. Torches for use in the kitchen are available in kitchen supply stores and department stores.

marinated lamb chops

4 lamb chops
2 tbs finely chopped onions
1 tbs finely chopped cilantro
1tbs “Canadianna Spicery” BBQ Blend
2 tbs canola oil

In a small bowl, mix together marinade ingredients. Coat both sides of lamb chops and let marinate for a ½ hour. Cook on a BBQ or heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Pan sear both sides of the chops, then place skillet in a 350-degree oven for five minutes, turning once. Serve with fresh cooked vegetables.

Where to find it: Spice Mixes from the Canadianna Spicery are available in select stores, including butcher shops, and online at

avocado soup with salsa and croutons

contributed by St Vincent’s Susan Toy
Serves 4-6

3 tbsp butter
1½ large onions, coarsely chopped
2 medium garden cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed in a garlic press
½ tsp dried oregano
kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and cayenne to taste
4-5 cups vegetable stock
6 ripe (California) avocados, peeled, seeded, chopped
Salsa and croutons to garnish (recipes follow)

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onions and sauté for about 10 minutes, until soft and caramelized. Add cucumbers, garlic, oregano and cayenne and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Add 1 cup of the stock and cook 5 minutes. Puree using a hand blender. Add avocados and puree, adding vegetable stock to achieve a light creamy consistency. Return to a pot and reheat and season to taste with salt and pepper. This soup is also excellent served cold.

For salsa: chop and combine 1 onion, 1 green pepper, 2 tomatoes, 1 jalapeño pepper, 3 green onions.

For croutons: sauté white bread cubes in butter until golden brown.

Note: Picture printed in eVentLife and Kamloops This Week was a baguette slice drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with “Red Pepper and Garlic Spice Mix” from the Canadianna Spicery, topped with shredded smoked Gouda from Gort’s Gouda and toasted in the oven). Salsa show is a mixture of finely-diced yellow watermelon, red onion, tomato, asparagus, lime juice, sweet chilli sauce, salt and pepper.

new orleans-inspired mixed nut pralines

2 cups of mixed, unsalted nuts
(1 cup pecans or walnuts, ½ cup pine nuts,
½ cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts)
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
4 tbs butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
dark chocolate, for drizzling (optional)

In a 350-degree oven, toast nuts on a baking sheet, stirring occasionally until nuts are very lightly browned; about 5 minutes or so.

In a very large, heavy pot, add sugar, brown sugar, buttermilk, baking soda and salt. With a wooden spoon, stir over low heat with a until sugar is dissolved. Use a pastry brush that’s been dipped in water to brush down the sides of the pot. Add butter and stir until melted completely. Increase the heat to medium and place a candy thermometer into the pot. Without stirring, cook until mixture reaches 236-degrees F (the soft ball stage - it will be marked exactly on the thermometer). Note that the mixture will froth and drastically increase in volume as it heats. Remove pot from heat and stir in vanilla and toasted nuts, beating with the wooden spoon until the sugar mixture begins to become thicker and less translucent. Working quickly, drop from tablespoons onto 2 Silpat-lined baking sheets, so that each praline is about 2 inches in diameter and 2 inches apart. Let cool completely for about half an hour. Do not store in the fridge.

campfire roasted chicken and vegetables with fettuccini

For the roasted vegetables:
1 medium carrot
½ red pepper
¼ red onion
½ lb asparagus
1 tbs vegetable oil

Slice carrot into long strips; chop pepper into three pieces, chop ¼ onion in half; trim asparagus. Drizzle vegetables with oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on camping toaster and roast over an open flame until tender. Chop into bite-sized pieces.

For the chicken:
4 chicken breasts
1 tbs vegetable oil
¼ cup red wine
1 pkg (350 g) fresh Olivieri fettuccini noodles
1 pkg (300 ml) Olivieri rosé sauce

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in frying pan. Sear chicken on both sides; continue cooking then, when about half finished, add red wine. Meanwhile, drop bag of sauce into boiling water (here’s where your teapot comes in) until heated through. Remove sauce and add pasta to the same water; cook until tender. Just before chicken is finished, add vegetables and sauce. Toss together with sauce and serve.

fruit loop rice krispie wquares

2 tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla
400g pkg marshmallows
3 cups Fruit Loops cereal
3 cups Rice Krispies cereal
½ cup mini M&Ms

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla then fold in cereal using a stiff wooden spoon, until evenly incorporated in the melted marshmallow. Fold in mini M&Ms. Press into a 8x8-inch baking pan that’s been either greased or lined with parchment paper. Let cool before cutting. Turn out pan and cut into 9 squares or 18 triangles using a sharp chef’s knife (buttering the knife, or running it under hot water after each cut will help the knife to cut through the squares without getting sticky).

For fun with the kids, try pressing the Rice Krispie mixture into several animal-shaped cookie cutters.

cinnamon raisin bread

1 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)
1 cup warm milk (100-110 degrees)
2 ½ tsp active dry yeast
4 teaspoons sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tbs butter, melted then cooled
5 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups raisins, Craisins or currants

for filling:
¾ cup sugar
2 tbs cinnamon
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup butter, melted then cooled
1 large egg white, beaten
3 tbs sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine water and yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes, until yeast is frothy. Add milk, sugar, salt and butter. Add flour and, using the dough hook, mix and knead on medium-low speed for 7 minutes. Add raisins and continue mixing for another three minutes.

Transfer dough to a lightly-floured surface. Knead by hand a few times and form into a ball. Place into a large, lightly-oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 ½ hours, until doubled in size.

Generously butter two 9 by 5-inch loaf pans; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cinnamon; set aside. Place dough onto a lightly-floured surface and cut in half. Working with one half at a time, roll into a 10 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush with half of the beaten whole egg, sprinkle with half of the cinnamon/sugar mixture, and drizzle with half of the melted butter. With the back of a spoon, rub the butter into the sugar cinnamon mixture. Roll the dough tightly, starting from a short end. Place, seam down, into a loaf pan and cover loosely with lightly-oiled plastic wrap. Repeat with second half of dough and let loaves rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour, until doubled in size.

30 minutes before the loaves are finished rising, heat oven to 400-degrees and place a baking stone on a rack in the lower third (stone is optional). Brush tops of loaves with egg white and sprinkle each with 1 ½ tbs sugar. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower temperature to 375-degrees and bake another 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for half an hour before slicing.

Where to find it: For French butter dishes, contact Okanagan Pottery in Peachland at

herbal berry smoothie

3 cups frozen mixed berries
3 tea bags Tazo Passion Tea
½ cup sugar
1 cup vanilla or plain yogurt

Brew tea in 2 cups of hot water for five minutes. Discard tea bags and allow tea to cool completely. Place in blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Spiked Smoothie: Add a splash of vodka to take this mix from breakfast to nightcap.

Monday, April 10, 2006

salmon, corndog-style

1 lb salmon fillet
2 tbs minced onion
2 tbs minced capers
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper

Remove skin and any bones from salmon. Finely mince and combine with onion, capers and salt and pepper. Shape into 10 elongated patties. Place in freezer for 20 minutes to allow mixture to firm.

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tbs jalapeno, seeded and finely minced
1 (8.5oz) cream-style corn
1 ½ cups buttermilk
4 tbs cornstarch for dredging
canola oil for deep frying

In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a separate bowl, combine jalapeno, corn, onion and buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just enough to moisten. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Measure the cornstarch onto a plate. Lightly dredge salmon. Pat to remove any excess cornstarch. Dip each salmon fritter into batter to coat. Carefully transfer into 375-degree oil and cook until batter is golden brown and salmon is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove, with tongs, to a baking sheet lined with paper towel and allow to drain for a few minutes. Insert chopsticks and serve with dipping sauces such as grainy Dijon or sweet Thai chilli.

Monday, April 03, 2006

tye dyed easter eggs

Hard boil eggs. Or for hollow eggs:

Wash eggs. With a large sewing needle, trussing needle or ice pick, begin by pricking small holes in both ends of each raw egg (use week old eggs if possible, as the yolks won’t be as firm). Gently push the needle through into the cavity of the egg to break the yolk membrane several times. Blow into one hole, either using your mouth or an egg blower, until the contents come out the other end. When the shell is empty, gently wash and dry, making sure that all water has drained out of the shell.

For each colour, place 1 cup of water plus 1 tbs vinegar in a bowl that will allow the egg to be at least mostly covered. Stir in several drops of food colouring, depending on the intensity of the colour you want. Using a spoon, lower each egg into the dye. The hollow eggs may not fully submerge, so turn over in the dye for even coverage. Remove from dye, making sure that hollow eggs have drained completely.

To Tye Dye, very carefully wrap eggs in rubber bands before dying. The dye won’t colour where the bands are. Remove the bands and place in a second colour, if desired. Or draw on eggs with wax crayons before dying. The dye won’t affect the crayoned areas.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

vegan muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups oat bran
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 tbs ground flax seeds
6 tbs water
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/3 cups plain soy milk
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tbs molasses
2 tsp grated orange zest
½ cups raisins
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oat bran, baking power, baking soda and salt. Place ground flax seeds in separate mixing bowl. Combine with 6 tbs water and let sit for minutes. Add brown sugar, soy milk, oil, molasses and orange zest and whisk to combine.

Scrape liquid mixture into flour mixture and bring together with a fork, until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Stir in raisins and walnuts. Line or grease (using vegetable or canola oil) a standard 12 muffin pan and divide batter among the cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes, until a tester inserted into the centre of several muffins comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from pan. Serve hot with fruit compote or turn muffins out onto a rack to completely before storing.

Mock Possum Casserole

¼ cup butter
1-4oz can sliced mushrooms
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ cup flour
1 tsp salt
2 generous tbs mild or medium curry paste
1 1/2 cups (1 can) evaporated milk
1 large chicken breast (um, possum), cooked, cubed
2 broccoli crowns, divided into small florets
7 oz (½ package) dry chow mien noodles
½ cup shredded cheddar
½ cup shredded mozzarella

Melt butter in an extra large saucepan (pot or large, heavy-bottomed stainless steel wok) over medium heat. Drain mushrooms, reserving liquid, and add mushrooms to saucepan along with onion. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent. Add flour and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until the flour has formed a paste. Add enough water to the reserved mushroom liquid to total ½ cup and add to the saucepan along with the curry paste and evaporated milk. Stir and cook until sauce is smooth and has thickened. Add in cooked chicken, broccoli and noodles and toss to coat with sauce. Scrape into a casserole dish and top with cheese. Bake at 350-degrees for 30-45 minutes until cheese is hot and bubbly.

Grasshopper Cake

½ cup cornstarch
½ cup icing sugar
1 cup flour
½ cup ground almonds
1 cup butter, softened

Blend cornstarch, icing sugar, flour and ground almonds. Cream together with softened butter. Press evenly into the bottom of a 9x13-inch cake pan. Bake at 325-degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

1-8oz package cream cheese
1 tbs icing sugar
2 pkgs instant pistachio pudding
3 ¼ cups milk
2 cups whipping cream to garnish

Let cream cheese soften at room temperature. Beat together with icing sugar until well blended. Spread evenly over base.

Prepare pudding with milk. Spread over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate for several hours to set. Whip cream and spread over pudding layer. Refrigerated to set. Garnish with faux grasshoppers and have a laugh at my expense.

Notes: To reduce the overall fat, use a graham crumb base instead of the shortbread. Using two spring form cake pans instead eliminates the problem of getting out that first piece intact.

Mongolian Improv

1 pound boneless beef
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs black bean sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 ½ tsp sesame oil
fresh ground pepper to taste

Whisk together sliced scallions, soy sauce, black bean sauce, sugar, sesame oil and pepper. Slice meat into very thin slices, about 4 inches long. Toss with marinade to coat and let marinate, refrigerated, for at least an hour. In lieu of an authentic Mongolian grill, sauté over high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, turning frequently. If it pleases you, stir-fry your favourite veggies and serve together over Asian noodles or rice.

Spicy Asian Miso Soup

¼ green pepper, sliced
¼ red pepper, sliced
¼ red onion, sliced
15 sugar snap peas, sliced
1 med carrot, julienned
1 small leek, sliced (white and light green parts only)
3 baby bok choy, cut lengthwise into quarters
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tbs white miso paste
1 tbs rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
¼ block extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes
1 tbs sambal oelek
2 tbs vegetable oil
½ pkg rice noodles, soaked in hot water until al dente

Heat vegetable broth together with miso paste. Bring to a simmer, add vegetables and continue simmering for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, toss tofu in sambal oelek. In a medium fry pan over medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil and pan-fry tofu until slightly crispy and heated through.

Just before serving, add rice wine vinegar and sesame oil to broth and vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add rice noodles to broth to heat. Serve, garnishing with spicy tofu to individual taste.

green bean and herb risotto

3-4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
4 tbs olive oil
3 medium shallots, peeled, finely chopped
1 ½ cups Arborio, “superfino” quality
1 cup dry white wine
2 tbs freshly grated parmesan
2 tbs butter
3 tbs Boursin (or mascarpone) cheese
8 green beans, blanched, sliced
1 medium tomato, seeded, diced
2 tsp chopped fresh poultry herbs
1 green onion, thinly sliced
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper

Bring stock to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan; keep hot. In a separate pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Sauté shallots until translucent. Add rice and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring to coat grains. Add wine and continue to cook, stirring, until wine is absorbed.

Add ½ cup of stock at a time, bringing each to a simmer and stirring gently and occasionally, waiting until each ½ cup is nearly absorbed before adding more. Be careful not to over stir and risk breaking down the grains. Continue this until risotto has been cooking for about 15 minutes, at which point the grains should be al dente (almost cooked) and moist and creamy.

Gently stir in parmesan, Boursin and chopped herbs. Add butter, beans, tomato and green onion. Stir until heated through. Season to taste.

Notes: Blanching is a method by which vegetables are partially cooked to bring out the flavours and colours. Drop into boiling water for one minute, then transfer to ice water to stop the cooking and set the colours. If not using a home-made stock, look for low-sodium and use unsalted butter to avoid an over-salted risotto. Risotto is excellent served with chicken, fish, red meats and vegetarian dishes, making it a very versatile addition to any cook’s repertoire.


1 1/8 tsp active dry yeast
¾ cup warm water
½ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup evaporated milk
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tbs butter, softened
oil for deep frying
powdered sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle yeast over warm water and stir to dissolve. Let stand 5 minutes. Add sugar, salt, egg and evaporated milk. Whisk to thoroughly blend. Switch to paddle attachment and add half of the flour, beating until smooth. Add butter and gradually blend in remaining flour. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours. Roll out onto a floured surface to 1/8-inch thick. Cut into 3-inch squares (or try also rectangles and bite-sized squares). Deep fry at 360-degrees until lightly browned on both sides; 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and dust generously with powdered sugar. Serve hot with café au lait or lattes.

Notes: Beignet dough freezes well. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in small freezer bags. When eating beignets dusted with a proper heap of icing sugar, let the errors of others teach you to not inhale while taking a bite.

tuna ceviche

1 lb sushi grade or very fresh Ahi tuna
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 green onion, finely sliced
¼ green bell pepper, finely diced
2 tbs chopped banana peppers
flesh from ¼ medium papaya, finely diced
10 green seedless grapes, thinly sliced
juice from 1 lb key limes (about ¼ cup)
2 tbs olive oil
3 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp sugar
fresh ground pepper to taste
Tabasco sauce to taste

Dice tuna into ¼-inch cubes. In a small bowl, toss tuna together with shallot, green onion, bell pepper, banana peppers, papaya and grapes. In a separate bowl, whisk together key lime juice, olive oil, kosher salt, sugar, pepper and Tabasco sauce. Pour over tuna mixture and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour. Serve in cocktail glasses.

Notes: Although the tuna in this recipe isn’t cooked with heat, it isn’t raw (although that’s rather nice, too). The proteins are “cooked” in this method by the acid in the key limes. True story.

Where to find it: You’ll want the freshest available tuna for this recipe. Even though I didn’t find the sushi grade I was hoping for, a still very fresh catch was available at Codfather’s on Gordon Drive in Kelowna.

black forest trifle

1 chocolate pound cake
(or equivalent other chocolate cake)
3 tbs sugar
1 tbs plus 2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbs flour
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 cup milk
¾ cup good quality chocolate chips
1 cup whipping cream
2-14oz cans of cherries, halved, juice reserved
2 squares Bakers Chocolate for shaving
2 oz kirsch

To make chocolate pastry crème, in a medium bowl, beat sugar, cornstarch, flour and eggs using an electric mixer on high speed. Bring milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk about 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture to combine. Transfer mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Whisk constantly over medium-low heat, scraping the bottom and corners of the pan, until the pastry cream is thickened and begins to bubble. Fold in chocolate and continue to cook, whisking, until chocolate is melted and incorporated; about a minute. Scrape into a clean bowl to cool.

When pastry cream is cool, slice cake into ½-inch slices and whip cream. Combine reserved cherry juice with kirsch.

In a medium glass trifle dish, or other decorative bowl, layer cake into the bottom. Sprinkle with cherry juice/kirsch and layer with chocolate pastry cream, cherries and whipped cream. Continue layering to the top of the bowl, finishing with cream. Shave chocolate (a vegetable peeler works very well for this) on top of trifle and serve.

Where to find it: Kirsch is a cherry flavoured liqueur, available in most liquor stores. Look for it in small-sized bottles, unless you intend to use it often in your baking. For the best kirsch to be found anywhere, buy from Okanagan Spirits in Vernon, or wherever Okanagan Spirits are sold. Visit for more information.

roasted vegetable lasagna

8 sheets of lasagna pasta (see note)
½ medium eggplant
1 small zucchini
¼ medium red onion
1 red pepper
2 tbs plus 1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp plus a pinch salt
½ tsp plus a pinch pepper
1 small leek
6 medium button mushrooms
2 ¾ cups pasta sauce (680ml can)
500g ricotta
2 cups grated mozzarella
2 tbs Italian seasoning

Cook pasta until it is pliable but still somewhat firm in the centre; drain, rinse and set aside.

Slice eggplant, zucchini, red onion and red pepper into quarters. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes. Cool and thinly slice.

Thinly slice leek and mushrooms and toss together in a small, oven-safe saucepan, with remaining olive oil, and a pinch each of salt a pepper. Place in oven and roast for 10 minutes.

In a 9 by 14-inch baking dish, layer sauce, pasta, roasted vegetables, Italian seasoning and ricotta into 4 layers. Top with grated mozzarella and bake at 350-degrees for 45 minutes, until cheese is lightly browned, hot and bubbling in the centre.

Note: This recipe uses (almost) square sheets of lasagna pasta, available at Valoroso Foods on Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. If using the longer, more narrow sheets, use 12 sheets for four layers.

frozen pineapple chiffon tart

For the base:
4oz cold butter
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ cups flour
1 large egg yolk
2 tbs heavy cream

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and sugar. Cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together yolk and cream. Mix into flour mixture until dough comes together and can be formed into a ball. Flatten into a 6-inch disk and wrap dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

On a lightly-floured surface, roll dough to fit a 9-inch tart pan with removable base (alternately, use a springform pan). Press into pan and refrigerate until firm.

Blind bake tart (by covering with a circle of parchment paper and weighing down with either dried beans or rice) at 400-degrees for five minutes. Lower heat to 375 and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until set. Lift out parchment and lightly prick the bottom and continue baking 10-15 minutes, until done on the bottom. Cool on wire rack.

For the filling:
5 large egg yolks
2/3 cup plus ¼ cup sugar
10 tbs fresh pineapple puree
4 tbs butter, cubed
4 gelatine leaves, soaked in cold water
1 egg white

In a heavy, non-reactive saucepan, beat yolks and sugar until well blended. Stir in 7 tbs of the puree and the butter. Cooking over med-low heat, stir constantly until mixture resembles hollandaise sauce (thickly coats a wooden spoon but still pour able). Don’t allow to boil. Pour into a strainer over a medium bowl. Press through strainer and add remaining puree.

Squeeze water out of gelatine and stir into the pineapple curd mixture. Let cool to room temperature.

Beat egg white until frothy, add remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat to stiff peaks. Mix 1/3 into pineapple curd mixture and lightly fold in remaining 2/3. Pour into cooled tart shell and freeze overnight. Garnish with fresh pineapple (shown sprinkled first with sugar and toasted with a butane torch).

Friday, January 13, 2006

sweet potato fritatta

1 large sweet potato
150 grams smoked salmon
¼ red onion
4 large eggs
3 tbs half & half cream
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 cup shredded aged cheddar

Peel sweet potato and cut in half lengthwise. Cover with water in a medium pot and bring to a simmer. Cook until sweet potato is easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Slice into ¼-inch thick pieces and layer half into a baking dish. Cover with a layer of half of the smoked salmon, half of the red onion. Continue layering with remaining sweet potato, salmon and onion.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, tarragon, salt and pepper. Pour over layers. Cover with cheese and place in a 375-degree oven to bake for 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and eggs are cooked but still moist.

Let set for a few minutes before serving.

Cooking Tip: For easy removal of the frittata from the baking dish, line with parchment paper before adding in ingredients, then simply lift out the finished frittata once it’s set.

two-bite baked alaska

8 2-oz scoops “After Eight” ice cream
8 “Two-Bite Brownies”
2 large egg whites
a few drops lemon juice
½ cup sugar

Place brownies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Using a 2 oz ice cream scoop, top each brownie with ice cream. Place in a very cold deep freeze (you may need to adjust the temperature of your appliance for this step). Allow ice cream to harden for several hours or overnight.

Pour lemon juice into a glass or stainless steel mixing bowl. Place egg whites into bowl and whip, using an electric mixer on high speed, until soft peaks form. Reduce speed and gradually add sugar. Resume high speed and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Working quickly and using a small offset spatula (available in finer kitchen and cake decorating stores), spread meringue over top and sides of ice cream, leaving the brownie base exposed. Using a butane torch, gently toast the meringue by waving the flame over the surface of the Baked Alaskas. Serve immediately.

beef bourguignon

30 pearl onions, peeled
20 small brown button mushrooms, quartered
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 pounds tender lean beef
5 slices bacon
2 tsp dried thyme
2 cups beef stock
2 cups dry, full-bodied, red wine

Cut beef into one-inch cubes. In a large Dutch oven (cast iron pot) over high heat, sear beef in at least two batches, on all sides. Remove beef from pot and replace pot over heat. Add bacon and allow to render until fat is melted. Add pearl onions and cook until they begin to caramelize. Add mushrooms and garlic to sear, then add in red wine, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to deglaze. Allow wine to simmer and reduce a little, then add seared beef, thyme and beef stock. Cover and place in a 350-degree oven to braise for about an hour, until beef is very tender and sauce is thickened (but not gravy). Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over hot buttered egg noodles.

Notes: Don’t confuse pearl onions with pickling onions, they’re not the same thing. If using a commercial beef stock (or broth), you shouldn’t need any extra salt. Consider picking up some beef bones at the butcher and making a stock. The results will always be better.

irish cream

4 cups half & half
4 cups whipping cream
6 large eggs
4 tbsp instant coffee
2 cups Irish whiskey
5 tbs chocolate syrup
2 cans condensed milk

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and blend with a hand blender until frothy. Transfer to a punch bowl for your New Year’s Eve party. Keep any leftovers refrigerated.

Note: Raw eggs should not be used in food or drinks prepared for pregnant or nursing women, young children or people whose health is compromised. But then, it’s pretty much the same deal with the whiskey.

eggnog mousse

2 cups eggnog (not light)
3 large egg yolks
2 tbs brown sugar
1 ¼ cups heavy cream, whipped
1/3 oz (6 sheets) gelatine

In a large bowl set over a pot of simmering water over medium heat, whisk together eggnog, egg yolks and brown sugar. Continue whisking, vigorously, until mixture has tripled in volume and is very hot.

Meanwhile, soften gelatine in hot water according to package directions, for about 2 minutes. Squeeze out excess water and thoroughly whisk in to eggnog mixture. Float bowl in a sink partially filled with cold water and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

Whip cream until it is stiff. Fold 1/3 of the cream into the eggnog mixture with a rubber spatula (this is to lighten the mixture), then fold in remaining 2/3. Spoon into individual dessert dishes or into one large decorative bowl. Refrigerate until set; several hours or overnight. Garnish with extra whipped cream and chocolate shavings

Christmas korma

Christmas Korma ~ serves 4-6
2 medium onions, chopped
2 tbs ghee or vegetable oil
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, diced
2 tbs Patak’s brand Korma paste
2 yams, peeled and diced
½ cup cream
¾ cup spiced cashews, coarsely chopped

In a large saucepan, heat ghee or vegetable oil. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add diced chicken and toss to sear and seal in flavour. Add Korma paste and stir to coat onions and chicken. Add yams and cream, then transfer to a baking dish. Place, covered, in a 350-degree oven and bake until yams are soft and chicken is cooked, about 40 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over cooked basmati rice and garnish with spicy nuts.

Notes: Visit and enter the search words “spiced nuts”. Use the recipe there for pecans, but substitute cashews for an Indian flavour.

Simple Dhal
1 can lentils (do not drain)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbs Patak’s brand mild curry paste

In a small saucepan, cook lentils and onion over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft. Add curry paste, salt and pepper. Puree using a hand-held blender and serve with curry and rice.

venison and portabelle brochettes with sweet chili dipping sauce

1 lb venison loin, trimmed, cut into 1” cubes
2 portabella mushrooms, cut into eighths
2 cloves garlic, slivered
2-inch piece ginger, peeled, slivered
2 tbs teriyaki marinade
½ tsp chilli flakes
fresh cracked pepper

Whisk together garlic, ginger, teriyaki, chilli flakes and pepper. In a large bowl, toss together with venison and let marinate in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Thread onto 8 large skewers that have been soaked in water for an hour (to prevent them from burning), alternating venison with pieces of mushroom. Grill until meat is done to your preference, or sear in a hot heavy skillet and finish in the oven.

Dipping sauce
1 cup Okanagan’s Finest Ginger Soy Vinaigrette
1 cup sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp Thai red curry

Whisk together and serve with venison brochettes.

apple puff pie

2 large Ambrosia apples
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ginger
pinch allspice
1 tbs butter
1 square puff pastry

Core and slice apples. Toss together with sugar and spices. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add apples and sauté, stirring, for about five minutes, until apples are hot and partially cooked.

Preheat a large pizza stone in oven at 400-degrees. Roll out puff pastry into a 12-inch square. Cut in half. Roll edges to hold filling and divide apple mixture between the two crusts, reserving liquid from the apples. Using a large spatula, transfer pies to a stone and bake until crust is golden.

Continue simmering the sugary liquid from cooking the apples, stirring constantly over medium heat, until it has reduced and thickened to the consistency of caramel. Drizzle over servings of hot apple pie.

cheese dip

1 - 500 g package Velveeta cheese
¼ cup milk
4 Roma tomatoes, small dice
1 cup salsa
1 tbs canned jalapenos, finely minced

Cut Velveeta into cubes and place in a non-stick medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add milk and stir with a rubber spatula until cheese is melted and hot. Stir in tomatoes and continue cooking until tomatoes are softened but not overcooked. Stir in salsa and peppers until thoroughly heated. (Use less or more peppers to taste, and/or serve more on the side for people to adjust themselves). Serve hot in individual bowls, with tortilla chips.

note: Transferring cheese dip to a crock pot, set on low heat, after it’s made will keep the dip warm as long as needed. Double or triple the recipe for larger crowds.