Monday, January 31, 2011

Lemon Pudding

I did top these off with whipped cream as the recipe suggests and they were a little bit of heaven. 

Adapted from
Serves 6
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 cups whole milk
3 extra large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 T finely grated lemon zest
1/4 t kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice + 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice)
2 T unsalted butter at room temperature

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch.  Add the milk, egg yolks, zest, and salt and whisk until smooth.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently at first and constantly toward the end, until thickened.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the citrus juice and butter.  Place a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl and pour the mixture through the strainer.  Divide the mixture into 6 serving dishes and let cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate, loosely covered (tightly covered will trap too much moisture, making a watery pudding) for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.  Serve chilled by itself or with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Beef Chili & Sour Cream & Cheddar Biscuits

Chili and biscuits are fabulous, but adding cheddar and jalapeños to them makes them outrageously fabulous. We had family over for dinner last night and served this with a simple tossed salad and a light lemon pudding for dessert (see other post). 

Beef Chili

Adapted from
Serves 6
2 large onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
3 T vegetable oil
1 T minced garlic
2 carrots, sliced thin
3 pounds ground beef
3 T chili powder
2 T Worchestershire sause
2 T paprika
1 T crumbled dry oregano
Dried red pepper flakes, to taste
2 cups tomato sauce or tomato puree
1 1/4 cups beef broth
3 T cider vinegar
1 T brown sugar
1 3/4 cups kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 green bell peppers, chopped
Salt to taste
Sour cream and pickled jalapeños (optional, to finish)

In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat and cook the onions in it for 5 to 10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and carrots and cook for one minute more. Raise the heat to medium and add the beef, stirring and breaking up any lumps until it is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add the chili powder, Worchestershire sauce, paprika, oregano and pepper flakes and cook for another minute. Add the tomato sauce, broth, vinegar and sugar and simmer the chili, covered, for 35 to 40 minutes. Add the kidney beans, bell peppers, salt (I used 2 teaspoons to get the seasoning right for my tastes) and pepper to taste and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, until the bell peppers are tender.
Serve ladled over a split sour cream and cheddar biscuit, below, with additional sour cream and pickled jalapenos, if desired.

Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuits

Adapted from
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 T cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 1/2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
Drained and chopped pickled jalapeños, to taste (I used about 2 tablespoons)
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 425°F. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Either cut the butter pieces into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or rub them in with your fingertips until well-combined. Stir in the cheddar, jalapeños and sour cream until the mixture forms a sticky dough. Pat it out to a 1/2-inch thickness on a very well-floured counter and use a 3 1/2-inch biscuit cutter to cut six rounds. Bake on an ungreased or parchment-lined cookie sheet for 15 to 17 minutes, until golden on top.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wild Rice, Orzo and Mushroom Pilaf

From: Best of Bridge Series: The Best of the Best and more (p. 178)

Serves 6


1 cup wild rice
1 cup orzo
8 cups mixed sliced mushrooms
2 1/2 cups of beef broth
2 T butter
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
chopped parsley to garnish

Cook the wild rice in the beef broth, according to the package instructions. Cook the orzo separately according to package instructions. Saute the mushrooms in the butter and oil until the liquid has been reduced. Combine all ingredients well. Serve with chopped parsley on top.

White Velvet Soup

I truly appreciate the bean. It's the cost saving, health conscious, storage friendly legume that keeps me cooking. Unfortunately beans give me gas. I guess I should just get this out of the way now: everything gives me gas. Nonetheless, beans are the prime offender. I would opt out of packing this soup for lunch. The blend of roasted garlic, onions and beans had no ill effect on me when first served. When I brought it for lunch a few days later, I had to quarantine myself. You've been warned.
Adapted from


1 head cauliflower
2 medium onions
1 head garlic (about 6-8 cloves)
3 cups cooked kidney or lima  beans (about 2 cans)
2 cups water
2 cups vegetable stock
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt to taste
olive oil for drizzling
smoked paprika also for show
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Cut up cauliflower into bite-sized chunks and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil or melted ghee. Sprinkle with sea salt.
3. Peel onions and slice into chunks. Peel garlic cloves. Place onions and garlic baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
4. Place all veggies in oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes until everything has golden edges and is nicely caramelized.
5. Let veggies cool slightly and add to blender along with all other ingredients except olive oil and paprika (process in batches if you have a small blender). Blend on high until very smooth. 
6. If the soup is not hot enough after blending, transfer soup to a large pot and warm until steaming. If the soup is too thick, simply add water to thin to your desired consistency.
Bonus: For each bowl of soup, combine 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil with 1/8 tsp. smoked paprika and drizzle as a garnish (this is optional, but there is something very delicious about the mellow richness of the soup, with a slightly spicy and smoky accent).

Raspberry Sorbet with Chocolate Chips

The twist on this sorbet is the cup of sour cream. Sour cream has become my answer to everything. I use a bit less than a cup of sugar, as per my mom's suggestion. It doesn't need a lot as the raspberries are in syrup.


  • 10 oz package of raspberries in syrup, mashed
  • 1/2 cup berry sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ t vanilla

Combine all ingredients using a hand mixer, pour into a loaf pan and freeze for a minimum of four hours.
Chocolate Chips

  • 12 or more thick cut plain ripple chips
  • 10 oz of dark, semi-sweet baking chocolate

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, mixing frequently. Use tongs to dip the chips into the chocolate, coating the whole chip. Let them cool on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Store in the fridge once all of the chips have been coated.

Shrimp Eye Opener Soup

The combination of ingredients in this chilled soup are definitely from another era. My mom has been making this soup for dinner parties for as long as I can remember. It's likely the only soup I can eat over and over again, as it appears to get better with age.

Enjoy this cold summer soup with some crusty french bread and cold butter.

2L bottle of Motts Clamato juice
½ cup chopped peeled cucumber
⅓ cup thinly sliced green onion
¼ -1/2 lb cooked small shrimp
2 T salad oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T sugar
1 t dill weed
1 clove garlic minced
1 package of cream cheese
1 medium avocado diced
½ t tabasco sauce

Combine all ingredients and let chill for at least thirty minutes. Serve cold.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pasta & Pea Soup

I am working on a professional certification for my regular job and my second assignment in this term's class is a paper. I object. Assignment two SHOULD be the complete viewing of Mad Men, season one.  Mad Men is best served with soup. Perhaps soup making should be assignment three. Soup and Mad Men it is!

Serves 6


  • 1 1/2 oz prosciutto, coarsely chopped
  • 2 T butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed
  • 12 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup pastina (if you can't find this tiny star-shaped pasta, I used orzo)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen peas
  • pinch of allspice
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup diced fennel
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese for garnish

Add the prosciutto, butter, onion, garlic & basil to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until all the ingredients are finely chopped. This mixture is called a battuto and can be used as a soup or sauce base for any number of recipes. Heat a large, heavy pot over medium heat & add the battuto. Cook, stirring occasionally, until everything gets soft, about 8-10 minutes. 
Pour in the chicken stock & bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer & stir in the pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, or until the pasta is about half done. Add the peas, carrots & fennel. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the vegetables & pasta are just tender. Season the soup with a generous amount of kosher salt {or, to taste} & some freshly ground black pepper. 
Serve the soup with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Yep, it's still cold. A balmy -25 degrees Celsius with a wind chill that freezes skin within seconds. Edmontonians are getting tired of the cold snap. Usually at this stage we experience a break in the cold weather, which gives us a little reprieve from the season. It's been ten days of snow fall and extreme cold: there is tension in the air.

Last night we had friends over for dinner to ease our own tension. They bundled up and trudged six blocks to be greeted with big glasses of red wine and hot food. I was raised by dinner party hosts and enjoy bringing good people together with good food. Socializing always appears easier when a well-crafted menu is involved. When there isn't any compelling reason to be outdoors, a candlelit meal makes that much more sense.

Last night was no exception and Greek food was on the menu. I am a Greek food fanatic and have made greek salad and tzaziki many times. I have never, however, made moussaka.  Search for moussaka online and you'll find a myriad of variations, especially vegetarian ones. I was after lamb and wanted a traditional recipe. I forgot to take pictures of the finished product so I'll have to get photos of the leftovers today.


Adapted from

Serves 6


  • 3 medium eggplants
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 lb ground beef or lamb
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 cup pureed plum tomatoes
  • 3 t dried oregano
  • pinch of allspice
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 5 T butter
  • 5 T flour
  • 3 1/2 cups warm milk
  • salt to taste
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 cup of grated white cheddar (or other cheese of your choice)

Cut the eggplants lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Salt both sides and let stand in a colander set over the sink for at least 30 minutes. Rinse with water and pat dry.

Brush the eggplant slices lightly on both sides with olive oil and run them under the broiler on an ungreased cookie sheet until lightly browned and soft. Remove and set aside to cool. (You can also steam them for 10 mn).

For the meat filling, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the meat and cook until brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the wine, tomatoes, allspice and cumin. Simmer until liquid has reduced, about 30 minutes. Add the oregano. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the béchamel, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the flour and whisk heavily until combined. Add the warm milk, little by little, whisking intermittently until the sauce thickens. Add the grated cheese and continue to whisk until melted. Add the nutmeg and season with salt.

To assemble, layer the bottom of a baking dish with the eggplant slices. Spread with half the meat mixture. Add another layer of eggplant slices and spread with the remaining meat mixture. Cover with remaining eggplant slices. Spread with the béchamel sauce. Bake from 40 minutes at 350ºC.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chocolate, Banana & Almond Butter Protein Bars

Makes approximately 24 snack-size bars

Here's an easy snack idea that's relatively healthy and protein-rich. If you have a sweet tooth, you'll likely want to add more chocolate syrup to this mix. I kept my chocolate dosage low as the syrup is loaded with sugar and this is meant to be somewhat of a healthy snack. 


  • 2 1/2 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup of whey protein powder
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 2 T almond butter
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 2 T chocolate syrup
  • 3 T milk 
Preheat over to 350 degrees and coat and 8X8 pan with non-stick spray

Mix the oats, protein powder and cinnamon. Add peanut butter and stir until well combined. Add egg whites, bananas, honey and milk.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before cutting into bars.

Fennel & Orange Salad

Adapted from
Serves 4

I found this juicy salad while pawing through one of my favorite food websites, Tastespotting ( Pictures often say more than words and Tastespotting takes advantage of this. 

  • 4 navel oranges
  • 1 T fennel seeds
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
  • 2 T fresh orange juice
  • 1 T grainy mustard
  • 3 green onions, sliced
Slice the rind and pith completely off of the oranges and slice the oranges 1/4″ thick.
In a pan over medium heat, toast the fennel seeds for a few minutes until the aroma is nicely released and they change color slightly.  Crush well in a mortar & pestle or grind in a small spice grinder or coffee grinder.
Combine ground fennel seeds, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard and sea salt in a small bowl and mix well.
Toss the dressing with the orange slices, fennel and onions and serve.
Like any recipe this one can be modified in any number of ways. I've read one variation that includes cans of baby octopus in olive oil and other varieties with salad greens or different citrus fruits.

Chicken, Spinach & Almond Pasta Bake

Adapted from

Serves 8
This is the kind of recipe that rocks my world: the kind you can make ahead of time and refrigerate. In an era of gourmet everything, I enjoy the basics that a casserole offers. This, and it makes for great leftovers which keep us fed through the week. 

500 g whole-wheat penne
1 t olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups of fresh spinach, chopped
juice and zest of half a lemon
500 g of chicken, seasoned, cooked and cut into bite size pieces
1 cup of shredded mozzarella, or your favorite blend of cheeses
1/4 cup of freshly-grated parmesan
1 cup of slivered and toasted almonds
1/4 cup of chopped parsley
salt and ground pepper 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9X13" cooking dish with cooking spray.  
Boil the pasta in salted water per package instructions, until it is just al dente.  Drain pasta, toss with the olive oil.  
In the meantime, heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high. Saute the onions with a couple pinches of salt for a few minutes. Stir in garlic for one minute, then add the wine and stir to deglaze pan.  Simmer for another 5 minutes until the liquid has reduced by half.
Stir in spinach. Cook for just about 20 seconds, until the spinach collapses a bit. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice. Add to pasta and stir mixing extremely well.
Add half of the pasta to the bottom of the baking pan, then sprinkle with some of the cheese and chicken pieces. Repeat these layers a second time. Finish with a thin layer of parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese on top is bubbly and melty. Serve sprinkled with the toasted almonds and chopped parsley.

Spicy Carrot & Red Lentil Soup

Snow, snow, snow, snow, wind, snow, cold, snow. This day calls for some soup.

Adapted from
Serves 6

1/2 t coriander seeds
1/2 t fennel seeds
1 habanero pepper, finely chopped
pinch of chili flakes
1 T olive oil
6 large carrots, peeled and grated
3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 t fresh ginger, finely grated
850 ml vegetable stock or water
salt and pepper
yogurt to garnish
fresh, chopped cilantro to garnish

Heat a large saucepan and dry-fry the cumin, fennel and coriander seeds, habanero and chilli flakes for 1 min, or until they start to jump around the pan and release their aromas. Scoop out about half of the seeds with a spoon and set aside for serving. Add the oil and saute the onions. Add carrots, ginger and garlic and cook shortly, then add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the lentils and simmer for 15-20 min until the lentils have softened.

Whizz the soup with a stick blender or in a food processor until smooth, return to the stove and season with salt and pepper to taste. Finish with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkling of the reserved toasted spices and fresh cilantro. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread.