Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mussels in White Wine Tomato Saffron Sauce

I've never made them at home before but I heard they were super easy, so when I saw them on sale today, I bought a bag.
This recipe was so good. It tasted very restaurant quality if I do say so myself. Can't wait to go diving for fresh mussels while we're in Cape Town.
The broth was so good for dipping fresh crusty bread. Even our baby LOVED the broth. I gave her a few sips from a mussel shell. She couldn't get enough.
Please do try this at home.

3lb bag mussels, scrubbed and rinsed (discard any cracked or open mussels)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion chopped
5-6 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup canned tomatoes
1 cup good white wine
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp good quality saffron
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

In a large pot, heat olive oil and butter at medium heat. Saute onions and garlic until fragrant (about 3 minutes). Add tomatoes, wine, thyme, saffron, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add mussels and stir. Cover pot and cook for about 8-10 minutes. Shake the pot a few times (with the lid closed) while cooking so the bottom of the pot doesn't burn.
Serve in a large bowl with plenty of fresh bread to soak up the broth. Delicious.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bloody Mary Burgers with Roasted Broccoli

I am usually a purist when it comes to making burgers. I don't like to add any filler to my patties. I simply flatten out the ground beef and salt and pepper both sides before grilling. Today I thought I'd try out a recipe from the trusty Rachel Ray Cookbook my bestie got me for a birthday present one year. I LOOOOOVE Caesars, the Canadian Clamato twist on Bloody Mary's. The burgers were SO good. Of course, I adapted the recipe to suit my tastes. ;)


1 large head broccoli
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp peri peri powder
1 tbsp olive oil
600g ground beef
1 1/2 tsp celery salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp Frank's Red Hot sauce
1 tsp Tobasco
2 tsp prepared horseradish
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tomato, diced
1 tbsp Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/2 tsp dried dill
4 hamburger buns
4 leaves lettuce
cheddar cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 F. Toss broccoli with olive oil, garlic, peri peri powder, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 15-17 minutes or until stems are tender and treetops are brown.

Lightly mix ground beef with celery salt, hot sauces and horseradish with a fork (fluff, do not mash!) Score meat into 4 equal parts and form into patties. Grill for about 4 1/2 mins per side until cooked through.

Mix mayo with diced tomatoes, hot sauce, dill and black pepper. Serve sauce on burgers with lettuce. I also added cheese, because my husband insists that cheese naturally belongs on burgers!

Hoisin Honey Grilled Pork and Chap Chae

I should have known that eating Korean food a lot while I was pregnant would affect my growing baby. I made chap chae and the little one couldn't get enough of it! She even tilted her head back so I could drop noodles in her mouth with chopsticks, and then she slurped them down. It was the cutest thing. However, baby garlic breath is NOT cute. Okay, it kind of is...
This is my version, and I served it with Chinese-style pork chops.

3 pieces pork loin chops
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tbsp honey
2 thai chilies minced

4 bundles vermicelli noodles (or if you want to be authentic, Korean sweet potato starch noodles)
1 carrot cut into 3 and slivered into matchsticks
1 onion sliced thinly lengthwise
4 Chinese mushrooms soaked in boiling water and sliced
5 pieces Cwiss chard stalks and leaves chopped (should be 1 cup spinach but I didn't have any)
1/4 cup sodium reduced soy sauce
3 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic finely crushed...use a garlic press or mortar and pestle

Place the pork, garlic, hoisin sauce, honey and chilies into a Ziploc bag and marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Grill about 4 minutes per side on the BBQ or until pork is cooked through properly.

Chap Chae
Combine soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic in a bowl and whisk until well blended.
Place vermicelli noodles in a pot of boiling water and boil until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, rinse and set aside.
Heat a little olive oil in a skillet, and sauté onions and carrots until softened, about 3 minutes. Add Swiss chard and sauté until wilted. Add mushrooms, noodles and sauce and mix well and heat until sauce has absorbed, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and eat warm or at room temperature with grilled pork

Monday, May 3, 2010

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

When I brought home vanilla beans from our trip to Indonesia, I knew I would make a vanilla bean cheesecake for my husband's birthday. I didn't take the best pictures (note my baby's finger about to taste a sample) but this was honestly the best cheesecake recipe EVER. The texture was so light and creamy. I brought it to the restaurant to celebrate my husband's and my mom's birthdays and it tasted like it could have been on the dessert menu. I bought a really nice spring form pan from The Cook's Place on the Danforth and they had just about anything you could ever need to cook or bake with very knowledgeable staff. What an awesome store! Anyway...this recipe is pretty much guaranteed, so give it a shot if you want a texture-perfect cheesecake. I found the recipe on My Baking Addiction. The tips were so helpful!

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

3 packages Philadelphia cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
2 vanilla beans, (scraped innards only)
2 tbsp Bailey's Irish Cream (I added this)

Preheat oven to 350 if you have a light colored cheesecake pan, or 325 if your spring form pan is darker. Line the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper, and wrap the outside of the pan with aluminum foil to insure it is airtight.

In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar and vanilla and press lightly into the bottom of the spring form pan.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time ensuring each is incorporated fully.
Add heavy cream, vanilla bean innards and Bailey's and ensure the batter is smooth.

Pour cheesecake batter over the graham cracker crumb crust and place the pan into a larger pan. Pour boiling water into the larger pan so that the water comes halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. Carefully place into the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes. The cheesecake should be slightly wobbly but should hold together when finished. Do not over bake the cheesecake. To avoid cracks, turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to gradually cool in the oven for an hour or more. Once cool, carefully remove the cheesecake pan from the waterbath and chill in the fridge.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Chinese Meatball Soup

This is a very comforting home style soup. Even my baby loved it and couldn't get enough of it!
My mom makes it with ground pork, but I used extra lean ground chicken for a lighter version.

4-6 cups water
2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
2 tbsp light soya sauce
3/4 lb ground chicken (or pork)
4 dried Chinese mushrooms
1 clove garlic, grated (or use a garlic press)
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
Large handful spinach, torn

2 birds eye chilies finely chopped and added to a small bowl of soya sauce

Combine water, ginger and soya sauce in a large pot and put on the stove to boil.
In a small bowl, allow Chinese mushrooms to soak in hot water for 10 minutes until soft, then chop finely.
In a mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, chopped Chinese mushrooms, garlic, egg and salt and pepper until well mixed and form into meatballs.
Drop meatballs into boiling pot, cover and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes.
Just before serving, add spinach to the pot to wilt.
Serve over rice, with hot chilies mixed with soy sauce if you like the heat!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pepper Steak and Mushroom Pie

My grandpa loves steak and kidney pies, but they're hard to find in Montreal. So for Christmas I baked him half a dozen of them to store in his freezer. I am NOT a fan of kidneys (or any organ meat, for that matter) so it was kind of gross for me to prepare, but I love my grandpa enough to have made the effort. They pies turned out really well and Grandpa loved them. My husband, who also loves meat pies was only allowed to sample a taste of the sauce so I decided to make the pie again last week. Since I had to eat dinner too I decided to swap out the kidneys for mushrooms, and I thought the result was even better. Rich gravy, tender meat and delicious mushroomy goodness.

2-crust pie shell (I used Pillsbury pie crust to roll in my own pie dish but use homemade if you feel so inclined)
3 strips bacon, sliced
1lb cubed beef
2 tbsp flour
1 onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1 package of button mushrooms, washed and quartered
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 egg lightly beaten

In a large pot, fry bacon until crisp and fat has been rendered. Move bacon pieces aside to paper towel lined plate.
Meanwhile, put flour and beef cubes into a plastic bag (I used a old bread bag...with no holes!) and shake to coat in flour.
Fry beef cubes in batches until brown on all sides. Don't overcrowd the pot or the beef will not brown properly. Move browned cubes to paper towel lined plate.
If there is not enough oil left in the pan, add about 1 tbsp olive oil and saute the onions, carrot, celery, bay leaf and thyme until softened.
Add mushrooms and saute until softened.
Season with salt and pepper
Return beef cubes and bacon to pot and cover with water.
Cover the pot and allow to simmer on low until the meat is fork tender (about an hour or so).
If the gravy does not look thick enough, mix 2 tbsp flour and 1/2 cool cup water in a mug. Slowly add the flour/water mixture to the gravy until it thickens to a nice consistency.
Pour Steak and Mushroom mixture into a 9-inch pie shell and top with remaining pastry, fluting the edges shut. Brush the top with beaten egg and cut some vent holes to let steam escape.
Bake at 350 F for about 45-50 mins or until crust is golden brown.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Grilled Filet Mignon with Peppercorn Mustard Recipe (Cooking Light)

I got a cast iron grill pan for Christmas and absolutely love it! Summer is much too long of a wait for barbeque and an iron grill pan definately solves that problem.

I grilled a couple of filet mignons with a light mustard, peppercorn and brandy sauce.

I made some roasted red potatoes and Tyler's Florence's cream spinach and of course, some bread.

This turned out great!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Antipasto Pasta Salad

I raided my pantry to throw this together because my fridge was empty and company was coming in an hour. The salad turned out amazing and it was ridiculously quick and easy.

1lb rotini pasta cooked al dente
6-8 large olives sliced (I used kalmata and green olives)
5 sun dried tomatoes rehydrated and chopped
3/4 can artichoke hearts quartered
2 tbsp chopped red onion
2 tbsp sun dried tomato pesto
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Toss everything into a large bowl and serve cold.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The BEST Baked Chicken Fingers

This totally looks like the most Canadian children's meal ever, but it was seriously good. The taste SO much better than any frozen pre-made chicken fingers. Sharl made the comment that they were the BEST chicken fingers he's ever had. I liked the fact that they aren't fried. You can try it for yourself and let me know what you think.

500g/1lb chicken fillets (or boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 2-inch strips)
2-3 tbsp light mayo
2 tbsp Franks Red Hot sauce
1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 sleeve saltine crackers
1 cup bran flakes
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried thyme

Preheat oven to 425 F
In a bowl combine mayo and hot sauces, and coat chicken strips in the mixture.
Put crackers and branflakes into a bag (i used an old bread bag) and crush with a rolling pin or your hands into rough crumbs.
Add crumbs to bowl and toss to coat all sides of the chicken strips
Lay chicken fingers on a baking pan and bake for 10 minutes per side or until chicken is cooked through.

I made a extra dipping sauce out of the mayo and hot sauce. DELICIOUS!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

Sometimes when I can't figure out what to make for supper, I turn to my friends for ideas. I'm always interested in what other people's go-to dinners are. My neighbour was over for tea one afternoon and she said her go-to was a shepherd's pie. I seldom make this dish so it was a good suggestion! I like shepherd's pie but don't like peas or corn mixed in so I adapted the general recipe for my tastes. I made individual shepherd's pies in french onion soup bowls and also made baby ones in little ramekins for my little one (minus the salt). What are your go-to dinners?

500 g/1lb lean ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
6-7 mushrooms sliced
2 cups beef broth
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp cornstarch
4 large potatoes
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tbsp butter
generous handfuls of shredded cheddar cheese

Put potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover potatoes and boil until cooked through.
Meanwhile in a large skillet, saute onions and carrots until softened.
Push the veggies to the edges of the pan and brown the ground beef until no longer pink.
Add the mushrooms and cook until softened.
Add thyme and bay leaf, beef broth and allow to reduce a little.
Sprinkle cornstarch over top and mix thoroughly to thicken the gravy.
Prepare the mashed potatoes: drain and mash the potatoes and beat in milk, egg, parmesan cheese butter and season with salt and pepper (I use a hand mixer instead of a potato masher so potatoes are really fluffy and smooth).
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large glass baking dish (or individual casserole dishes), layer beef mixture on the bottom and mashed potatoes on top and smother with cheddar cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes until cheese is bubbling and slightly brown on top.

Easy Oven Baby Back Ribs

This is pretty much a no-fail easy recipe. I was going to finish the last 15 minutes of cooking on the BBQ, but didn't bother because it was too cold outside. The secret to really tender fall-off-the bone ribs is to cook at a low temperature for a long time. Don't rush them!
I served this with a spinach salad with strawberries, mushrooms, feta, walnuts and sunflower seeds.
Rack of ribs
1 tsp ground corriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or Indian chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup favourite BBQ sauce

Preheat oven to 325 F
Remove membrane from underside of ribs. Mix all the spices together in a small bowl and rub all over the ribs. Place in a large baking pan bone-side down and bake for 2 hours. Brush ribs with bbq sauce and return to the oven for 15 more minutes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs

This might seem like nothing special, but there's a reason it's so popular. I gave some to my 8 month old baby and she LOVED it!

500g/1lb lean ground veal
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
handful chopped fresh parsley
pinch ground nutmeg
1 egg
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper
1 jar of your favourite marinara sauce
spaghetti cooked al dente

In a medium bowl combine ground veal, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, nutmeg, egg garlic and salt and pepper. Mix lightly with a fork but do not mash or meatballs will be tough. Roll meatballs into to whatever size you like...I make medium sized ones.
Place meatballs in skillet on medium heat and allow to brown on all sides. Pour marinara sauce in pan, bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook until sauce is hot and meatballs are cooked through. Serve on top of spaghetti and cover with cheese!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

White Chicken Chili

When I saw this recipe on Closet Cooking, I had to try it. It was the perfect way to use my leftovers from last night's roast chicken. I don't know why, but I thought that a white chili would somehow be less flavourful but it was pretty robust! I couldn't find canned chopped green chilies, but I found a jar of salsa verde, so I used that instead.

Here's the recipe copied from Closet Cooking:

1 tablespoon oil
1 onion (diced)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 tablespoon cumin (toasted and ground)
2 (4.5 ounce) cans chopped green chilies (I used salsa verde)
2 jalapeno peppers (sliced)
3 cups chicken (cooked and shredded)
2 (19 ounce) cans northern beans (drained and rinsed)
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoon masa (or cornmeal)
1/2 cup milk

1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-8 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and cumin and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
4. Add the green chilies, jalapenos, chicken, beans, chicken stock, oregano, salt and pepper.
5. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
6. Mix the masa into the milk and then mix it into the chili and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Yams and Asparagus

No need to post a recipe here...This was Mandy's recipe from below. I was inspired by my bestie's roast chicken abilities. I always think of a roast dinner being a big deal, but she insisted that it was very simple, so I tried it last night...she was right! Very easy one dish meal. I didn't stuff the cavity with lemons and celery coz I didn't have any. I also didn't baste with wine. I just put the mustard herb rub on the chicken and tossed some yams and potatoes in olive oil and garlic and rosemary and threw them in the same pan as the chicken. 1 hour later, it smelled so delicious in the house and I felt like a total domestic goddess.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Apple and Spice Baked French Toast

I had this delicious make-ahead brunch dish at a neighbour's house, and decided to make it when my bffs came to visit. It was tasty and the best part was that there was no fussing about in the kitchen in the morning. Just made this the night before and popped it in the oven for 50 minutes and voilà!


1 large loaf of French or Italian bread

8 large eggs

3 1/2 cups of milk or light cream

1 cup of sugar [ I used 1/2 cup plus 2.5 tbsps sugar]

1 tbsp vanilla

3 tsp Cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

6-8 medium sized cooking apples (Cortland, Macintosh, Granny Smith)

[I used 5 Red Delicous apples]

1/4 cup of butter


Slice bread into 1 1/2 inch slices. Spray 9x13 glass pan with oil or non-stick spray. Place bread in glass dish, placing tightly together.

In a large bowl, beat together eggs, 1/2 cup sugar [this is where I cut the sugar to just 2.5 tbsp], milk and vanilla (by hand with whisk for about 30 seconds).

Pour one half of the egg mixture over the bread. Peel, core and slice apples. Cover bread with sliced apples.

Pour balance of egg mixture evenly over apples.

Mix remaining 1/2 cup of sugar with cinnamon and nutmeg and sprinkle evenly over top of the apples and dot with butter.

Bake in oven uncovered at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow it to rest for 5-10 mins before serving.

Friday, January 15, 2010


A cassoulet is a hearty French stew with an assortment of delicious meats...usually pork belly, duck confit and Toulouse sausages. I had it at our favourite French restaurant in Toronto and tried to make a simpler version while replicating the same flavours at home. It turned out really well and the flavours were very similar to the restaurant's version. Next time I feel ambitious, I will attempt to make my own duck confit! It would totally make this dish shine.

4-5 Toulouse sausages (or Oktoberfest, or Bratwurst...choose somewhat smokey sausages)
2 medium onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomatoes
1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 sprig fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
pinch ground cloves
1 can white beans
2 slices french bread diced small
1 tbsp olive oil
1 extra clove garlic minced
2 tbsp chopped parsley

Fry sausage in a skillet until brown on all sides and cooked through. Remove from pan and add onions and garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and herbs and season with salt and pepper. Slice the sausages and add to the skillet along with the white beans. Simmer mixture for 15-20 minutes to allow flavour to develop. Meanwhile, toss diced bread in olive oil and garlic and bake on a cookie sheet at 400F for 10 minutes (watch to make sure they don't burn!). Serve cassoulet in French onion soup bowls or mini casserole dishes and top with the garlic toasted bread crumbs and fresh parsley.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Boeuf Bourgignon

I'm not a huge fan of stews, but this one is just sooooooo yummy. Who wouldn't enjoy tender meat slowly simmered in red wine? I decided to serve this with a baked potato only because I didn't want to wash another pot to make mashed potatoes. It turned out to be an excellent accompaniment. This is French comfort food at its finest.

4 slices bacon, chopped
1 lb cubed beef
2 Tbsp flour
1 large carrot diced
1 large onion diced
1 clove garlic minced
1 bottle red wine (minus a glass or 2!)... preferably Burgundy but any will do
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 container button mushrooms quartered and sautéd in butter
beurre manie (1 tbsp butter kneaded with 1 tbsp flour) - optional

In a large pot on medium heat, fry chopped bacon until crisp. Set cooked bacon aside on a plate with paper towel.
Meanwhile, toss beef cubes in flour in a bag until coated.
Fry beef in batches in the bacon fat until beef is brown on each side. Place fried beef on paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
If you need more oil at this point, add some olive oil to the pot and sauté onions, carrot and garlic until softened.
Deglaze pot with the wine making sure to scrape the brown bits in the bottom of the pot. Add the bay leaf, thyme, tomato paste and season with salt and pepper.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for at least an hour and a half or until the beef is fork tender.
Half an hour before serving, sauté mushrooms in butter in a separate skillet until golden brown then add to the pot. If sauce needs thickening (and if you want that 'certain je ne sais quoi...'), add the beurre manie and cook for 15 minutes more.
Serve with a baked potato (scrubbed, pierced and baked straight on the oven rack for 45 mins at 400F)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ravioli in cream sauce with wilted spinach and toasted walnuts

Cold night + creamy pasta = comfort gourmet

1 package of your favourite ravioli
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1/3 cup cream
1/4 cup milk
handful grated Parmesan cheese
dash fresh grated nutmeg
2 cups baby spinach
handful walnuts toasted in a dry skillet

Boil ravioli according to package directions in a large pot
Meanwhile, heat butter small saucepan on medium low heat. Add the flour and stir until you get a sandy texture. Slowly add cream but do not allow to boil. Add milk if you need to thin out the sauce. Add nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Once the sauce is at the desired thickness (coats the back of the spoon), remove from heat, stir in parmesan cheese.
Pour sauce over cooked ravioli and immediately stir in spinach. Sprinkle toasted walnuts over top.