Sunday, November 15, 2009


This is not the Julia Child's recipe but just a typical french braise. The recipe is out of the Food and Drink Autumn fall LCBO book (Liquor Control Board of Ontario). Saturday's are busy days in most households mine included. Weather permitting there is still some last minute yard work that needs to be done, groceries to be shopped and unloaded, cars that need washing and the ever endless house cleaning. When I have such a day I like to prepare some type of stew or casserole in the morning so that at the end of the busy day I am faced with a ready meal as opposed to still having to prepare one. This beef bourguignon is the perfect meal to prepare ahead and serve later.


2-1/2lbs of stewing meat cut into 2" cubes

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3T olive oil

4oz sliced double smoked bacon diced.

18 pearl onions, skinned

8oz small cremini mushrooms.

1 cup chopped onions

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup chopped celery

2 cups red wine

2 cups beef stock

1 head garlic, dry papery layers brushed off, top third of bulb cut off.

1 bay leaf

2 stalks thyme

4 sprigs parsley


3 T softened butter

3T Flour
  1. Preheat oven to 300F (150C)
  2. Season meat with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat 1T of oil in Dutch Oven over medium high heat. Add bacon and saute until slightly crisp. Remove from pan and reserve.
  4. Add pearl onions and saute for 5mins. Add mushrooms and saute for another 5 minutes or until onions are tender and mushrooms are browned. Remove onions and mushrooms and reserve. Wipe pan out.
  5. Add another 1T of oil to pot and working in batches, add meat in single layers without crowding and brown on both sides about 1 minute per side. Remove meat and place in a strainer over a bowl to allow fat to drip out.
  6. Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1T of oil to the pot. Add the chopped onions, carrots and celery and saute for 5mins or until softened. Add wine scraping up any brown bits from the base of the pan. Bring to boil and boil for 1min, then add stock. bay leaf, thyme and parsley sprigs. Bring back to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the top. Stir in the meat.
  7. Cover and bake for 2 - 21/2 hrs or until meat is tender. Add reserved bacon, onions and mushrooms, return pot to oven and bake another 15mins or until meat is very tender and sauce is rich.
  8. To make Beurre Manie, combine butter and flour to make a paste.
  9. If sauce is npt thick enough strain into a separate pot and add the beurre manie a bit at a time until it is thickened to your satisfaction. This should not be a very thick sauce. Season to taste and return to pot.

Serves 4-6

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I really don't know why it is called Black Lentil Soup,other than it does call for black lentils. I have never seen black lentils, I used brown ones, I have seen orange lentils and green ones, but regardless of the colour, all I do know is that this is a different version from the German lentil soup (My Mom's recipe) that I usually make.
I am always on the look-out for a good hearty soup recipe , as Ron and I often enjoy just a soup for an evening meal. We love it's simplicity, comfort and many times, we just don't feel like thinking about what to make. A soup is easy, it usually requires no special ingredients, just clean out the fridge's vegetable drawer usually works for me, soup is easy to freeze or to keep in the fridge for a few days.
This soup actually has a story attached to it, I found it in the November issue of the Food and Wine magazine that I subscribe to. I love Indian food, and the magazine had an excellent article about a chef/sommelier Rajat Parr who puts an Indian twist on some of his dishes, the Lentil soup, was one of the lovely dishes highlighted, and the one that I had decided to make . Lentils are something that my family enjoys eating. either as a main meal or an a accompaniment to a meal. The soup turned out to be a huge hit and as I was raving about it to my girlfriend Seeta, telling her about this article and the chef's spin on food, doesn't she say that she knows of this young fellow (Rajat Parr and his family and his success in California) needless to say I am now saving the article for her and enchanted to once again learn how small our world is and how we are all connected.
But back to the soup. This earthy soup is Parr's take on an Indian dal .

1 cup lentils (about 6 ounces)
2 cardamom pods
One 1-inch piece of ginger peeled and thinly sliced plus
2T. minced ginger
6 T. unsalted butter
1 diced onion
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. garam masala
2 quarts vegetable broth
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

  1. In a pot, cover the lentils, cardamom and sliced ginger with 1" of water. Bring to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the lentils start to soften. Approx 10 mins. Drain the lentils and transfer to a bowl, discard the cardamom and ginger.
  2. Melt 3T of butter in the pot. Add the onion, garlic and minced ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened (8 mins). Reduce the heat to low. Add the coriander, cumin, cayenne and garam masala and cook stirring until fragrant (approx 4 mins).
  3. Add the stock, tomatoes and lentils and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer over moderate heat until the lentils are softened and soup has thickened (approx 1 hr). Stir in the remaining 2T of butter and season with salt. Ladle into bowls and serve.

(As a slight variation and because I add carrots to my mothers lentil soup recipe I also add 2 chopped carrots to this version.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tequila Lime BBQ Chicken & Pesto Gnocchi

Ron was playing nursemaid, and chief chef, while I was suffering major pain with my sinus infection. Meals were simple, but oh so good. Every now and then, I would tell him to remember to take some pictures. The results were not were glamorous, but what it lacked in visual presentation, it made up in flavour. Ron also took the trouble to make home made gnocchi, you have just got to love the guy.

This is actually a lovely recipe from a Canadian chef named Rob Rainford. He is the Grill man on the Canadian Food network Channel. This recipe, is actually a great one to make in the summertime when your BBQ is all fired up, but Ron brought a little sunshine into a dismal winter day by changing a few ingredients, and just grilling them on the Foreman Grill/ The original recipe is called Tangerine Tequila Chicken Breasts and can be found at Ron substituted limes for the tangerine and used chicken legs and thighs. I'll post the original recipe. On a personal note this recipe almost reminded me of my good friend Lynne's Bajan Chicken recipe that she made for me a year ago when I was undergoing radiation. I'll have to get her to pass along a family recipe and post it sometime soon as it was absolutely delicious!

8 chicken breasts skeined and de- boned ( Ron used legs and thighs)

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1tsp dried chili peppers

zest and juice of 6 tangerines (Ron used limes)

3 T tequila

1 T fresh lime juice (Ron omitted this)

1/2 cup peanut or veg. oil

1T fresh mint leaves chopped 1/4 tsp. of salt.

In a med bowl wisk all ingredients.

Reserve 1/4 cup of marinade for basting.

Wash and pat dry chicken.

Place everything in a zip lock bag including pierced chicken and marinade for 3-6 hours.

Grill on our door or indoor grill basting as you go along.


It's the first of November and it is beautiful outside. The sun is shinning and Ron and I should have taken a drive in the country, but last night I boiled and got my potatoes ready for my annual perogie making session , so I stuck to my original plan and got on with the work.

This is actually my second post on making perogies, I posted last year on the 9th of December on a wintry snowy day, but I fear that I may have scared some of you off from attempting these delicious little dough filled pastas. Last year I roughly made 15 dozen, as I did today , mainly because they freeze so beautifully and it is great to have a bag of these that you can easily defrost and presto a great home-cooked meal. I know that you can just as easily go to your local supermarket and pick up a bag of machine made perogies, but trust me they don't even come close to the REAL thing. So today I took particular care about counting, and measuring and have figured out for you a one batch recipe that will easily yield 36 or more perogies depending on the size of your cut-out. I usually make a double batch times two and I can easily get over 150 of them. But working solo to make that amount takes at least 6 hours and I realize that many young moms work and would rather do other things on a Sunday morning with their families that make perogies!

So, to give you some encouragement, here is a recipe that will take just a fraction of the time, yield at least 3 dozen and you can probably even freeze some for another meal.
I made a Potato, cheddar ,onion filling today, but fillings are endless so use your imagination. Cheeses can range from Quark, Ricotta , to Cheese Whiz or Kraft Singles. You can add onions, bacon bits, parsley or whatever spice, herb that you like in your potatoes. I make perogies with a mushroom filling and a sauerkraut filling and even a ground meat filling. Like i said use your imagination.
Boil around 6-8 potatoes of medium size.
Drain and Mash potatoes with 250 Gr. of grated cheddar cheese. I used medium cheddar.
Saute 1 diced onion in some butter until translucent and add to mashed potato.
Set aside and let cool.
Take a soup spoon and scoop the mixture and form into little balls , this will be your filling. I do these balls in stages as I fill the perogies
You will need to boil 1 potato in some water before you start the dough. Take out the potato and mash it while it still warm, save the potato water as you will need it, let it cool to lukewarm.
Add 1/2 cup of mashed potato ( that you boiled and set aside, not the filling)
Add 1/2 cup of lukewarm potato water
2 egg yolks
2 T. of oil,or shortening
Add 2 cups of flour mixed with 1 tsp. cream of tarter
Pulse until a ball forms.
Remove from Processor and place in a bowl to knead lightly,add 2 T. of flour at a time just until dough does not stick to your hands. Roughly 1/4 cup rarely more. This is a lovely rich soft dough. Let rest for 10 minutes in the bowl covered with a cloth.
Split the dough in 3 sections and roll out on a lightly floured board . The dough will roll out easily use a round cookie cutter, glass rim or even an empty cleaned soup can as a cutter, as this is a good size for the rounds. Naturally the bigger your circle the more filling you will need and then you also end up with less than 3 dozen. But by all means if a bigger circle is easier to work with then use it till you get the hang of making smaller ones.
Take one of your circles , stretch it out a bit like a pizza, the dough is elastic and will stretch easily, fill it with the filling, wet half of the edge with some water fold it in half and pinch the dough together. Make sure you pinch it closed as otherwise it will open when you boil them.
Place pinched and filled perogies on a clean towel. When hey are all complete, Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Place around 8-10 of your perogies into the boiling salted water. When they rise to the top they are done. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in cold water if you are planning on freezing them. Them remove from cold water ,pat dry , freeze on an oiled tray for 20 minutes then bag them for later use.
OTHERWISE, continue boiling the batches, remove from boiling water, OMIT cold water bath , place on tray and when ALL perogies are boiled, in a clean frying pan melt some butter and saute about 1/2 a diced onion. When lightly browned add your boiled perogies to frying pan, just to reheat them and serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream.
I know it sounds long but it truly isn't if you make a batch. Get the kids to help pinch and your hubbie to do the boiling. It really is easy and delish..... and then again you can double the recipe and really go to town !