Monday, January 31, 2011

Tuscan Kale and Arugula Caesar Salad

If you look up the health benefits of kale you'll  quickly realize that it's loaded with nutrients and is arguably the healthiest vegetable around. Kale is a great source of antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and has cholesterol and cancer fighting properties.

I try to have Kale once a week and love it best when tossed with my no fuss Caesar salad dressing. The dressing is ridiculously easy to make and doesn't require any yolks. It's not a thick Caesar style dressing as it's more runny and rustic. A bowl of this salad is quite filling and will give you a welcome surge of energy to help you get through the day. You'll be satisfied and feel great after digging into this!

3 anchovy fillets (pressed with a fork until it makes a paste)
1 garlic clove, grated into a paste
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
1 lemon, juiced
1 bunch of Tuscan kale, stemmed and cut into large leafs or ribbons if you're feeling fancy
pinch of salt to taste
1 cup arugula

In a bowl whisk the anchovies, garlic and lemon juice. Whisk in the parmigiano reggiano and slowly add the olive oil. Add salt and pepper. In a large bowl mix the kale and dressing so that all the leafs are coated. Let this sit in the fridge for 5-10 minutes. Add the arugula and toss so arugula is also dressed.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


"When the Moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie that's amore"...dadadadadaadaadada!

I always sing this song when I make pizza. Nothing beats homemade. It doesn't take that much effort but it makes all the difference. This is such a fun thing to make if you have kids or are a kid at heart (like me). It's nice to make this at home as you can be as creative as you please with your toppings. There are literally infinite possibilities. You can top your pizza with cured meats, sausages, pickled veggies, tuna (in oil), anchovies, tomatoes, arugula tossed in oil and lemon juice as a final flourish and so on and so forth... I made two pizzas tonight- the first was a classic margarita in a pizza dish  and the second pizza was more of a free-style anchovy/no cheese which I cooked on a baking stone.... after eating both, my husband and I agreed that the baking stone gives the best results!

But what stole the show was the fresh cherry tomato sauce. It brought a little taste of summer into this druid January.

Pizza dough:
4 cups AP flour
2 packets dry active yeast
1.5 cups lukewarm water (105-115F)
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Coat a large bowl with extra virgin olive oil and set aside. Mix water, yeast and sugar and let sit for 10 minutes until foamy. In the meantime, place 3 cups of flour and salt in a bowl. Place the remaining cup on a clean work surface. I LOVE this pastry mat from crate and barrel as it ensures a clean and cling free work area:

When the yeast activates add the extra virgin olive oil and mix. Add it to the bowl of flour and stir together until it's all incorporated. Place on work surface and knead with well floured hands for 8-10 minutes until you have a soft dough that forms into a smooth round ball.

Transfer to the awaiting oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Place in a warm place like above the fridge or in the oven for 1 hour. It will double during this time. "Punch" the dough, basically deflate it with your fist. Transfer to a clean work surface and divide in half (makes two pizza doughs). Roll out your dough (make sure to flour your rolling pin so it doesn't stick) and place on a tray. Fold over the edges for a crust and brush it with extra virgin olive oil. Or roll it out however you like- just make sure to oil the edges!

Now you're free to top it as you please! Bake in a 425 degree oven for 20 min.

Amaaaazing Pizza Sauce Ingredients:
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 handful of basil chopped
a good amount of salt (I used half a tablespoon)
a good amount of extra virgin olive oil (I used 1/4 cup)
pepper to taste
and a pinch of sugar 1/2 a teaspoon or so to bring out its natural sweetness

Chop tomatoes until they're quite runny.. but not too much as you still want to see some pieces. If they're not too ripe (like mine were) transfer to a mortar and pestle and give it a good thrashing. Add a clove of garlic (you will fish it out before topping the pizza), olive oil, salt, sugar, pepper and basil. This will result in the most beautiful summery tomato sauce that you can put on a pizza or toss with pasta and parm cheese...

Tip: If you are making margarita pizza, don't add the cheese until the final 5 minutes. This way it's nice and runny and not overcooked. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chicken Roast

When I think of roast chicken I think of comfort. Tender juicy chicken, crispy skin, perfectly cooked winter vegetables bathing in a thick gravy... COME ON! My chicken is extra tender because I gently release the skin from the meat, making sure to keep it intact and stuff it with homemade truffle, herb and garlic butter. I don't baste my chicken. This keeps it nice and crisp. Once I see it has good colour I cover it with foil and carry on cooking. It's totally worth the extra step of separating the skin as it results in the most succulent meat ever!

1 chicken (I used a young chicken which was 2.7 pounds)
2 tablespoons room temperature butter
1/2 teaspoon white or black truffle oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1 small clove of garlic
2 carrots
1 leek quartered
2 potatoes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Parboil potato and carrots, drain and set aside. In a mortar and pestle pound herbs and garlic to a paste. Add butter, truffle oil a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix until combined.
Being very delicate, release the skin of the chicken from the meat and gently rub the stuffing as far back and around as you can.

You want the skin to be detached but intact. It's okay if the butter hardens upon contact with the cold meat. It will melt and internally baste the meat in the oven. Place the potatoes, leeks and carrots in a baking dish and top with a tray. Place chicken on top, stuff it with a head of garlic and half an onion. Tie the legs in place.

 Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook 20 minutes per pound. The juices will drip from the skin and coat the veggies.

When cooked, remove the chicken and cover with tinfoil. Let it rest for 15 minutes. This way the juices will stay in the bird and keep it moist. Remove the veggies from the dish, place on a baking tray and broil on high until browned.

*Tip if the chicken is cooked but doesn't have the colouring you want, place the broiler on high and cook until crisp and golden. Make sure the bird is not too close to the flames.

Gravy Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoon drippings
1/4 cup AP flour 
4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon maggi seasoning (optional)

Melt butter in saucepan. Add drippings. Add flour and cook until it bubbles and turns a golden brown colour. Add a ladle of stock at a time, whisking as you add. Finish with maggi seasoning and a touch of salt. I add more drippings if I feel it needs more depth. Bring to a boil and simmer until it thickens. Serve hot!

*Tip: The goodness doesn't end there- place the carcass in a large saucepan, fill with water, add a stalk of celery, carrot, one onion, a sprig of thyme, bay leaf, a couple peppercorns and parsley for a delicious stock. Bring to a boil, skim off the foam and cook on a low simmer for 3 hours.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Endive and Smoked Salmon Boats

I was feeling a bit fancy this afternoon and ran to the grocery store to purchase three items. 1 head of endive, 1 package smoked salmon and creme fraiche. I can eat smoked salmon by the pound and love the subtle biter bite of endive. Tying the two together is the hidden dollop of creme  fraiche sandwiched between the salmon and endive. When you take your first bite you immediately taste the salty fatty salmon followed by the crunchy endive. Now for the grand finale- everything is harmoniously tied together with the creamy deliciousness of creme fraiche that just envelopes your entire palette.... I literally heard angels singing as I ate this!

1 package smoked salmon
1 small package creme  fraiche
1 head endive

Cut the stalk of the endive and gently remove each leaf. Rise and pat dry. Add a dollop of creme fraiche at the base of each endive and top with a piece of smoked salmon.

Tip: You can top with fresh dill but I didn't have any :(

Monday, January 24, 2011

White Salad

Don't be fooled by its muted colour palette as this salad is bursting with flavour. I love the crispy texture of the frisee and its gentle bitterness. Adding depth are the spicy julienned green onions, salty and rich parm cheese tossed together in the most brilliant whole-grain mustard dressing. This is a great starter but is also bold enough to serve alongside fish, poultry or red meat.

1 head of frisee, ripped into long pieces
1 green onion, julienned (use the whites as well)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1.5 teaspoon whole grain whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1.5 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar (you can use white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar)
parmigiano reggiano cheese shavings (as many as you like)
salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl whisk whole grain mustard, vinegar and honey. Slowly add canola and olive oil whilst whisking. Taste and add salt and pepper (at least 1/2 teaspoon salt). Toss the frisee with the dressing and transfer to a large serving platter. Top with scallions and cheese and drizzle the remaining dressing.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I grew up in a neighbourhood populated with Etzio's, Vittoria's and Giovanni's. The telltale signs of August were open garage doors not displaying cars but a family production line making their perfect jarred tomato sauce. Visiting my friends houses was such a treat as snacks were not peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but fresh bread, cured meats, cheese and pickled vegetables. I remember contemplating to myself as I joined in their afternoon feast or snack "Who are these people? And why can't we all eat like them?". I love Italian food. It is my favourite food in the whole entire world (no offense anyone). They excel in so many arenas- they have pasta, risotto, polenta, amazing fish, meat and poultry dishes, insane cheeses, delicious breads, PIZZA and such a variety of veggie dishes. Maybe growing up in a neighbourhood where we were the only non-Italian family within a 3 mile radius is responsible for my bias but I just love love love Italian food!

I'm feeling a bit nostalgic today and want to make meatballs. I remember going over my childhood friend's house and watching her mother remove giant meatballs from what looked like a cauldron. I thought they were having a dinner party but it was just the 6 of us. She tossed the sauce with the pasta, added the meatballs, generously grated fresh parmigiano reggiano cheese and served it with homemade chili in oil. Mama mia! I was in heaven.

1 pound ground veal
1 pound ground beef ( you can use a  combination of veal, pork and beef but I use veal and beef)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup parm cheese
2 eggs
4 cloves garlic finely minced
1 small onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chili flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients together. Using your hands make sure everything is well incorporated. Form small, medium or large balls.  Place on tray lined with parchment (you can do this a couple hours earlier and refrigerator or cook immediately.. Add to sauce and cook for 45 minutes on a low simmer.

Sauce Ingredients
2 cans whole tomatoes
1 carrot, grated
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
2 sprigs of thyme
1 parmigiano reggiano rind (save you parm rinds!)
1.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onions, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and sweat until onions and garlic are soft (about 5-8 min). Add parm rind and one can of whole tomatoes. Add the juice of the second can (we want to save the tomato pieces for later).  Add salt, pepper and sugar.  Cook on a low simmer for one hour. Turn off heat and let cool. Remove parm rind and thyme. Transfer to a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Return to saucepan. Using your hands squeeze the reserved tomatoes so it breaks into small chunks. Cook on a low simmer for 30 minutes. Add more salt and sugar if necessary.
* Tip- add more sugar if it tastes to acidic. Add more salt if it tastes too dull.

I served my meatballs with polenta because I like the smooth creamy texture but my husband "hates polenta" so I made him rigatoni:)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Soba Noodles

Soba noodles are made of buckwheat and have the consistency of pasta. It's a good source of vitamins and dietary fibre. This is a bonus because I adore soba. I can eat bowls upon bowls of it. You can serve it hot, cold or room temperature. It can be in a salad, starter or soup. It's extremely versatile and lends itself to a variety of cooking styles. This dish is super easy and very delicious. I love the texture of the sticky wet noodle when paired with crunchy cucumber, scallions, smooth avocado and pan seared shrimp. You can have it as is or supplement the shrimp with extra firm tofu for a delicious vegetarian alternative that's just as pretty and tasty!

1/2 pound soba noodles
1 pound shelled and deveined shrimp
3 cloves garlic, 2.5 fine chop and 1/2 grated for sauce
1 inch ginger, 3/4 of which is julienned and 1/4 is grated for sauce
1 shallot fine slice
1 scallion thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cucumber diced
1 avocado, thin sliced or cubed
2.5 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 tablespoon mirin
1 lime zested and juiced
1/2 lemon juiced
1 teaspoon oil (either peanut, vegetable or canola)
1.5 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil and add soba. Cook according to instruction. Combine wet ingredients, brown sugar, grated garlic and ginger in a large bowl. Heat pan and add oil. On med-low heat saute shallots until soft and remove with a slotted spoon, draining any excess oil. Add garlic and ginger and cook until garlic has softened. Remove with a slotted spoon, draining any excess oil. If the pan needs more oil add some otherwise add the shrimp, increase heat to med-high and cook until pink. Do not overcook as the shrimp will be rubber. About 1.5 minutes per side is plenty. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Go light as there's a lot of sodium in the sauce. When the soba has cooked, drain and toss in with wet ingredients. Add cilantro, cucumber, and green onion. Toss. Serve with avocado, shrimp and a sprinkling of sesame seed.

Citrus and Herb Chicken

The simplicity of this dish is what makes it amazing. There's nothing fancy involved in how fancy it looks. I've used a cheaper cut of chicken and cooked it with simple ingredients. It's lovely and crispy and perfectly fatty...not in a chewy way but in a crisp and moist way.

4 chicken thighs with skin and bone
2 heads of garlic separated and lightly smashed with side of knife (skin on)
5 springs thyme
5 sprigs oregano
5 sage leaves
2 shallots thinly sliced
1/2 a red onion thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Rub chicken with some salt and pepper. In a deep baking dish, toss all the ingredients together. let it sit for 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400. Meanwhile heat a skillet on medium low heat with a touch of olive oil and butter. Remove any marinade from chicken and pat dry. Fry skin side down. Fry this on a lower heat so that it renders the fat from the skin and makes the chicken crispy. When it's become golden brown (8-10 min) return to baking dish skin side up. (reserve the frying pan/fat). Bake for 10 minutes at 400, reduce the heat to 375 and bake for another 20 minutes or until cooked.
Remove the chicken and let it rest under a foil tent. Pour the garlic and herbs from the dish into the pan where the chicken was fried and cook on medium low heat for 3-5 minutes. Serve the chicken on a bed of the garlic and herbs.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bubble and Squeak

I love love love bubble and squeak. I love its name, its no rules approach to life and how very delicious it is. It's the anything goes side dish. You can put practically any veg in there so long as you keep the starchy potato to link everything together. I usually add brussel sprouts because i think they're just divine. The grocery store didn't have them today but it's no biggie- anything goes! I substituted with even more kale and presto! Traditionally, it is made with leftovers but i love it so much I make it from scratch.This is a beautiful side that goes so well with chicken, beef and sausages. I served it with turkey sausages and it was a hit!

2 large potatoes, cubed
3 carrots, large slice
2 cups kale
1/4 cup leeks, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup (or more) cheddar cheese

Bring salted water to a boil in a large stock pot. Add potatoes and carrots. When nearly fork tender add kale. Remove kale after one minute and place in strainer. When potatoes and carrots are tender, strain. Squeeze the excess water from the kale and chop roughly. Melt butter and add olive oil to a large saute pan and add leeks. Sweat down until translucent and soft. Add potatoes, carrots and kale. Take a potato masher and mash everything down. Not too aggressively that it's mashed potatoes, you still want some chunks. Cook on medium heat making sure to scrape bits from the bottom, incorporating all the ingredients. Add salt and pepper. Taste if there's enough seasoning. Push everything down so it's relatively flat. Top with cheese and broil in the oven until cheese bubbles and melts.

Tip: I cooked this in the pan I cooked the sausage in to give it extra flavour. You can do this if you cooked chicken or beef.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snack time- Tomato Avocado Toasts

Sometimes, let's be honest..once a month I am tormented with violent cravings for salt and vinegar chips..My preferred brand is Lays and it is very much true that "you can't have just one". I can eat an entire bag of salt and vinegar chips. I giggle with delight as I merrily stuff fistfuls in my mouth as if in some sort of trance- only stopping upon the realisation that I'm left with crumbs. At this point I grab a plate, empty the greasy bag of its sparse contents and begin to mine- wet-fingered for whatever crispy bits I can salvage.

Why are you writing about chips when your post is titled "Snack time- Tomato Avocado Toasts" you may ask? Good question. The only tactic I have from preventing such a desperate act is making a DELICIOUS and healthy alternative snack that will take my mind off its craving. And what better way to do that than with this divine, fresh and flavourful sandwich. All this requires is having the best- the best tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, good quality bread and firm avocados. Thankfully having the best of these things is relatively inexpensive! This sandwich is perfection- crunchy bread, lemony garlic olive oil, sweet fresh tomatoes finished with creamy avocado... I LOVE!

1 ripe but firm tomato
1.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (you can get away with 1 tablespoon but i love it)
1 small clove of garlic smashed
1/2 avocado sliced
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 slices good quality bread...nothing that comes pre-sliced with an expiration date months away...good fresh baked bread (i used multi grain)
salt and pepper to taste (don't be shy with your salt)

Immediately mix garlic and oil in a bowl to let the flavours mingle while you prep. Add the tomatoes, avocado, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Gently mix. Toast bread. You can rub the bread with a peeled garlic clove for extra garlic flavour. Arrange tomatoes and avocado on one slice of bread and drizzle (or in my case pour) the remaining sauce over and top with another slice of bread. Wear a bib or an ugly shirt and enjoy...

Asian Salmon

I've been eating too much meat for my own good lately. I do my best to have red meat once a week, but have broken that rule 5 times over...oops. So in effort to get things back in order I've made this delicious Asian inspired salmon. I love the sauce! It's sweet and tangy and syrupy..just delicious! And the strong salmon flavour is if anything highlighted instead of overpowered. I don't like it when marinades drown the fish and strip it of all its freshness and God-given taste. So to avoid this I marinate the fillet for 30 minutes and only glaze it teasingly. Even if you're left with a lot of sauce there's no reason to use it all on the it for fresh steamed veg or BBQ meat!

1.5 lb salmon fillet
1/4  cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced or grated
1/2 tablespoon grated ginger
1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon Mirin
1 teaspoon sesame oil
the zest of 1 lime, 1/2 a lemon and 1/2 an orange
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 sliced birds eye chili
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 green onion thinly sliced on a bias
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)

Combine soy sauce, garlic, ginger, mirin, rice wine vinegar, chili, sesame oil, brown sugar and honey in a bowl. Pour half on top of salmon (it doesn't need to be swimming in marinade). Cover and keep in the fridge for 30 min. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place a cooking rack above a baking tray. Remove salmon from fridge and gently hold it on an angle so excess marinade drips off. Place on tray and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until you insert a knife on the thickest part and it's hot to the touch. Meanwhile, combine the excess marinade and reserved marinade in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer. Combine water and corn starch- whisking together to avoid lumps. Whisk into marinade and reduce until it's a thick syrupy consistency. Drizzle over salmon, top with green onion and sesame seeds. Serve on a bed of wild rice.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kheema (Minced Lamb and Peas)

This unassuming dish of minced lamb and peas may not excite you aesthetically. I don't blame you, it looks lackluster and sloppy. But don't be fooled my friends- hopefully you've learned not to judge a book by its cover...Beneath it's sub-par looks lies a whole range of depth and contrasting flavours. There's the juicy tender lamb basking in a  gravy of exotic spices. This is brilliantly paired with a sweet layer of peas- perfect little capsules that gently rupture with each bite. Each spoonful contains something sweet, salty, sour, earthy and fresh. This is one of my favourite ways to eat lamb...Trust me, it's properly amazing!

1 pound minced lamb or beef
1 medium onion, small dice
4 cloves garlic (grated or minced to a paste)
1 inch ginger (grated to a paste)
1/4 cup fresh coriander, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 chili thinly sliced
1 tomato, diced
1 cup water
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in pan and saute onions. Sweat until translucent and add garlic. Cook until garlic is golden and soft. Add ginger, chili's. Add lamb and all the spices EXCEPT garam masala. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until nicely browned  and add and tomato and cook until tomato softens. Add 3/4 cup water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover and simmer for 3o min. Increase heat to med-low and add garam masala, peas, coriander, lemon juice and 1/4 cup water. Simmer for 5 min. Taste and add salt if necessary. Serve with rice. Garnish with fresh cut chili, coriander and thinly sliced ginger.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Spaghetti alla puttanesca, literally translates to "whores spaghetti". Historians believe this dish originated in the brothels of Napoli as a quick, delicious and inexpensive way to re-fuel before a gruelling days..or nights work. How about that for a quick and interesting fact?!
One would traditionally make this with capers and olives but I omit these key ingredients as I'm not a fan of having too many salty components in one dish. Taking this recipe another step away from tradition are the delicious toasted breadcrumbs I've added for texture and depth. I think this is an improved version but traditionalists would most probably bang their forks in protest... don't knock it till you try it my friends;)


1 package spaghetti
4 large tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon chili flakes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
1/2 cup onions, small diced
6 anchovies
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


Bring water  with a good dash of salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Cook pasta according to instructions.  Heat skillet, add extra virgin olive oil and onions. Cook until onions are soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook until soft. Add tomatoes, anchovies, chili flakes and tomatoes. Stir and break apart the anchovies- helping them melt into the sauce. Cover and cook on a low simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper. Add spaghetti to the saucepan- stirring to incorporate all the flavours. Toss in the parsley. Top with crumbs. (see recipe below)

Breadcrumb Topping

1 cup old bread
1/4 cup parm cheese
1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly smashed
1/5 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


Blitz bread in a food processor. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan. Add garlic and cook until soft. Toss in breadcrumbs and cook until golden. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lamb Sausage and Roasted Veg

I love it when sausages are so perfectly cooked that each bite brings complete joy as you pierce its impossibly crisp skin and chew away at all its fatty, meaty goodness. Adding to its long list of pros, sausages could not be easier to make...not from scratch of course! This dish is dead simple and ready to serve within 35 min start to finish! There's very little effort needed to have your guests thinking you're some sort of kitchen goddess:)

4 sausages (whatever flavour or meat you like)
1 bell pepper
1 large onion
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 sweet potato, sliced into long wedges
1 teaspoon fig vinegar or balsamic
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, rough chop


Preheat oven to 375.  Line a baking tray with tinfoil and toss sweet potatoes with salt, pepper, 3 garlic cloves and 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Roast for 30 min or until tender. 
In a frying pan, heat olive oil and fry sausages until golden. Remove and saute onions, bell peppers and garlic until soft. Add the vinegar and the sausages. Cook for a minute, gently tossing. Pop under the broiler until nicely charred. Toss with sweet potatoes and top with cilantro.

Rustic Chicken Soup

I've been under the weather the last couple days and find that few things bring me as much comfort than a hearty bowl of chicken soup. I rarely permit eating in bed but nothing beats nestling under a thick duvet, watching TV and digging into a bowl of chicken soup goodness! This simple recipe is just the thing one needs to combat the winter chills.


1 pound chicken thigh with bone
2 carrots (one in half and one diced)
2 onions (one quartered and one diced)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 cup parsley stems
2 stalks celery (one in half and one diced)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 cup pastini
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup spinach
1large tomato, large dice
salt and pepper to taste


In a large saucepan cover chicken, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, 1 celery stalk cut in half, 1 carrot cut in half and one onion quartered with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30-1 hour.
Strain and reserve the liquid. Remove the chicken from the bone and either string or cut into pieces. In a separate saucepan add olive oil. Saute onion until it's soft and translucent. Add garlic, carrots, celery and tomato.  Cook until garlic softens. Add the chicken and cover with reserved broth. Taste and add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and add pastini. Cook until pastini is soft. Add spinach and turn off heat.
Serve with parmigiano reggiano shavings and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Barcelona..Culinary Paradise

Barcelona is a vibrant, delicious, and exciting culinary haven! From vinegary and deep fried tapas to baked potatoes laden with truffles,  oh and squid ink risotto and butter poached sea bass and gastronomic wizardry I couldn't even attempt to unveil and did I mention truffles?! There are truffles on every menu...AMAZING... 
Not only is the above a fantastic example of a run-on sentence- it is more importantly, a glimpse into all the delicious eating Barcelona has to offer. I've never visited a city where such a small circumference twinkles with so Michelin stars!  

Friday, January 7, 2011

Winter Warmer Veggie Chili

Most people equate chili with beef. And I get it, beef is pretty fantastic. Yet when given the option- my uber carnivorous husband chooses this flavourful veggie chili. I promise you won't be craving meat if you sink into a bowl of this! It's delicious, hearty, vibrant and is one indulgent winter comfort food that won't add to your waistline...

1-2 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobe sauce. This has a lot of heat so go with less if necessary
2 carrots peeled and sliced into little bite sized cylinders
2 cups butternut squash peeled, seeded and chopped into bite sized chunks
1 onion finely diced
1 bell pepper seeded and chopped into bite sized pieces
2 portobello mushrooms sliced into bite sized pieces
2 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
1 cup black beans (ready to use or the ones you soak..i prefer the ones you need to soak)
1 corn, just cut all the little kernels off
1 eggplant cut into bite sized pieces
1 zucchini cut bite sized pieces
2 cans of whole tomatoes (crush the tomatoes in your hand to break them up)
1 cup chicken or veggie broth
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of sugar


In a large pan add olive oil and sweat the onions on med-low heat until soft and translucent. Add the chipotle pepper, garlic and black beans and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, broth, chili powder, cumin, paprika and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to  a boil and add a pinch of sugar. Stir. Reduce heat to medium. Add carrots and butternut squash, stirring occasionally. After 5 minutes add the mushroom and corn, stirring occasionally. After 5 minutes add the zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers and mix. Taste if salt is needed. Add water if there isn't enough liquid to cover the contents. Cook until all the ingredients are tender. Serve on a bed of rice with a dollop of full fat Greek yogurt or sour cream.

Caramelized Tomato and Onion Tagine

Moroccan food is delicious and not as scary to attempt as some may think. There are many people who are either A. afraid to try it or B. can't be bothered to make a dish involving more than three spice blends. For those in category B.-shame on you! ;)

 But to those who are feeling slightly adventurous and want their home to be infused with the spices and warming feel of Marrakesh, I beg you- please try this dish! You can make it with lamb but i prefer beef short ribs.. you just need a couple ingredients and it literally cooks itself. In three hours, all the flavours collapse into each other- making the most heavenly sauce. As for the short ribs...  Oh my goodness! I love the way its perfectly cooked flesh succumbs to the slightest touch of my's literally paradise. So don't be shy- please give it a try!


3 pounds short ribs
3 large onions, large slices
3 large tomatoes, large slices
1 cup beef or veal stock
1.5 tablespoon ras el hanout
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup chopped coriander
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper to taste


Rub the short ribs with 1 tablespoon ras el hanout and 1 teaspoon salt and pepper for at least 1 hour.  In a large pot add olive oil and butter. When hot add the beef. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan as you want all the pieces to brown (this may be done in batches). When brown, remove the beef and add onions. Sweat until soft and translucent (about 5 min). Add the beef and all it's juices to the onions and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often. Add the tomatoes, cumin, cinnamon and stir. The juices from the beef, tomatoes and onions will create the base liquid. Add half a tablespoon of ras el hanout and the beef stock. Stir and bring to a boil. Turn the heat on low and cover. Cook for three hours or until meat is fork tender. Make sure to stir  often. Remove the meat from the pot and reduce the liquid until it's a nice and consistency. Taste and add salt if needed. Serve with couscous