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.