Asparagus and Brie Tartlets

Asparagus & Brie TartletsThis is lovely as an hors d’oeuvre, or two per person as an appetizer. You can par-bake the wonton wrappers ahead of time, just make sure to weigh them down with something so that you retain the cup shape. I suggest dried beans or pie weights. This recipe will make 12 tartlets, but can easily be doubled. You can even make this into one large tart by layering the wrappers on the bottom of a tart pan, and then just topping with all of the filling and brie. I would suggest slightly cooking the tart first though, before adding the filling, so that it can crisp up a bit.

Ingredients:

24 wonton wrappers, thawed
2 ½ tablespoons butter, divided
24 asparagus spears, cut into 1” lengths (about 2 bunches)*
1 shallot, diced*
¼ cup white wine or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
4 oz. (120g) brie, sliced into 12 pieces/wedges
salt and pepper, to taste

* Click here to learn how to check these vegetables.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt about 1 ½ tablespoons of butter in a microwave or small saucepan. Brush each wonton wrapper with the melted butter and press two wrappers into each mould of a muffin tin. When placing the wrappers I find it easier to align them first out of the tin, then press them in. You should have one wrapper square in front of you, with the flat edge facing you, and then another wrapper on top, but turned 90 degrees, so that the point is in front of you.

In a saucepan, melt remaining butter on medium heat and cook asparagus for 2 minutes. Remove the asparagus with a fork or slotted spoon to keep the melted butter in the pan. In the same saucepan, cook the shallot for about 2 minutes. Add the white wine, and let it simmer until it has reduced by half. Add vinegar and reduce once again by half.

Pour the shallot/wine/vinegar mixture over the asparagus and season with salt and pepper. Divide asparagus and Brie among the muffin moulds lined with wonton wrappers. Bake on the bottom oven rack for 15 minutes or until wonton wrappers are golden brown. Serve warm.

Pan-Fried Whiting Fillets with Garlic Kale

Pan-Fried Whiting Fillets with Garlic KaleOkay, so Queen Victoria’s chef may not have made his whiting fillets like I have in the recipe below, but to be honest, it was probably pretty close. I found another recipe from the era and it gives a simple recipe for dusting the fillets and serving them with a Hollandaise sauce. I figure a beurre blanc sauce with garlic kale is a nice modern twist. This recipe will serve 6-8 people. I hope you enjoy it!

Fillets of Whitings FriedIngredients:

Garlic Kale:
2 large bunches (about 500g) kale, stems trimmed*
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon chili flakes

Whiting Fillets:
⅔ cup olive oil
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
16 (about 1.1 kg) whiting fillets, skin off

Beurre Blanc:
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup white wine vinegar
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus extra wedges to serve
1 ¾ cup chilled unsalted butter, cubed (just under 4 sticks)
salt and white pepper, to taste

* Click here to learn about cleaning kale.

Directions:

For the beurre blanc, bring wine and vinegar to the boil in a saucepan. Add the shallots, and season with salt and white pepper and season. Reduce heat to low and cook for 6-8 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 3 tablespoons liquid should remain). Stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Strain and return to a clean saucepan over medium heat for 30 seconds to warm. Reduce heat to low. Add butter, a piece at a time, whisking constantly so it melts before more is added. Remove from heat and whisk in remaining tablespoon of lemon juice. Season to taste, set aside and keep warm.

Meanwhile, blanch kale in a pan of salted boiling water for 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain. Heat butter and extra virgin olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chili, then cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add kale, season and toss to coat. Cook for a further 10 minutes until tender.

To prepare the fillets, in a small bowl mix together the flour, salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Coat the fillets with the seasoned flour, and shake each fillet to remove any extra coating. Cook the fish in the hot oil for 2-3 minutes each side until golden.

To serve, divide the kale and fish among plates, and spoon the beurre blanc over the fish and serve with lemon wedges.

Fish Soup

Fish SoupThis is a nice alternative to chicken soup, and combines the fish course and soup course into one! All the flavour, half the work! This recipe will serve about 12 people.

Ingredients:

⅓ cup olive oil
2 medium onions, quartered
2 large leeks, white part and most of the green part, sliced*
4 stalks celery
1 bulb fennel, quartered (save the fronds for garnish)*
6 cloves garlic
1 large bunch parsley*
2 red peppers, seeded and cut in chunks
Head and tail of a large salmon, tile fish, or any other big fish, quartered, loosely but securely wrapped in cheesecloth
2 (540ml) cans crushed tomatoes
8 cups water
2 large potatoes, cut in small cubes
1 cup dry white wine
½ teaspoon cayenne, or a little more to taste
Good pinch ground cloves
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon paprika
2 good pinches saffron
8 cups fish, cubed, about 1” size (salmon, tile or snapper)

* Click here to learn how to properly clean these vegetables and herbs.

Directions:

In a food processor, coarsely grind the onions, leeks, celery, fennel, garlic, parsley and peppers. You can do this in batches if you have a smaller processor or you find the vegetables are becoming over processed.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil, and then add the vegetable mixture. Sauté the mixture until the onions and leeks become translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Mix often so that nothing sticks and burns.

Next, add the head and tail of the fish (in the cloth), along with the tomatoes, water, potatoes, wine, cloves, bay leaves and paprika. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and let cook for 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecloth with the fish parts in it, and then add the chopped up fish meat and saffron to the pot. Allow the soup to cook another few minutes until the chopped fish has cooked through. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, and then serve hot, garnished with a few fronds from the fennel.

Beef Stroganoff with Egg Noodles – Бефстроганов с яичной лапшой

Beef StroganoffIngredients:

1 cup red or white wine
2 pounds beef chuck roast
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup margarine (or 1 stick)
1 medium cooking onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup all-purpose flour or cornstarch
2 ⅔ cups beef broth
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 cup sliced mushrooms, canned or fresh
⅓ cup non-dairy sour cream
⅓ non-dairy cream cheese
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 package egg noodles (to serve)

Directions:

Remove any fat and gristle from the roast and cut into strips ½ inch thick by 2 inches long. Put the meat in a large bowl or container and season with ½ teaspoon of both salt and pepper, tossing to coat. Add about 1 cup of wine and let sit in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours to marinate.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and brown the beef strips quickly, then remove them strips to a plate. Add the onions to the pan and cook slowly for 3 to 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and add them to the plate with the beef strips.

In a small bowl mix together the flour/starch with a little bit of broth to help it dissolve. Add the mixture to pan which now only contains the juices of the meat and onions, and mix around to bring up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour in beef broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and stir in mustard. Return the beef and onions to the pan, along with mushrooms, then cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is tender.

Boil noodles according to the package directions. Drain once cooked, and set aside until beef is ready.
In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese and the sour cream. Five minutes before serving, mix in the cheese mixture. Heat briefly then salt and pepper to taste. Serve over a bed of wide egg noodles.

Cipolle al Forno (Baked Onions)

Baked OnionsIngredients:

8 medium sized onions
Salt and pepper
A few sprigs of fresh parsley, finely chopped*
Best quality, fruity olive oil
Dry white wine (optional)

Directions:

Take each onion, and slice off both the top and root ends. Remove the outer, dry layers of the onion, then slice each onion in half across their midsection, against the grain so to speak, so their rings are exposed. Place the onion halves in a well-oiled baking dish, cut side up. Season very generously with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the parsley. Finally, drizzle the onion halves with best quality olive oil you can find/afford.

Place the baking dish in the oven set at 350 degrees, for an hour or more, until the onions are well reduced in size, very soft and slightly caramelized. Baste the onions with their cooking juices every so often as they cook. Be careful not to allow the onions to burn, which will give them a bitter taste. If you like, you can cover them with a sheet of wax paper for the first 30 minutes or so or If need be, you can lower the oven temperature.

About 5 minutes before they’re done, splash a bit of white wine on top of the onions. This gives the onions a very slight tang, which nicely balances their natural sweetness, and produces a little ‘sauce’ you can pour over the onions when you serve them. Let the onions cool slightly before serving.

* click here to learn how to clean parsley.

Sauce 1 – Velouté Sauce

Veloute SauceVelouté is a base for many popular soups and sauces. This recipe will make around 1 quart of sauce. These are the basic instructions:

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter or margarine (preferably clarified)
7 ¼ tablespoons flour
5 cups white stock, cold (chicken, veal, fish, or vegetable)

Directions:

Mix the flour and butter over medium heat in a heavy sauce pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until you’ve made a blond roux. Gradually whisk in COLD stock, stirring constantly to avoid clumps. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer. Simmer until mixture is reduced to 4 cups (approximately 20 minutes). Strain, if necessary.

Notes:
There’s no need to season velouté… this sauce is a base for other sauces so it should be seasoned according to the small or compound sauce specifications.

Bercy SauceBercy Sauce

The Bercy sauce, named after a district in the east of Paris, is a finished sauce for fish and seafood dishes. It’s made by reducing white wine and chopped shallots and then simmering in a basic fish velouté. This recipe will make about 1 pint of sauce.
Ingredients

1 pint fish velouté
¼ cup white wine
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
Lemon juice, to taste

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the wine and shallots. Heat until the liquid boils, lower the heat a bit and continue simmering until the liquid has reduced by a little more than half. Add the velouté, then lower heat to a simmer and reduce for about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter and chopped parsley. Season to taste with lemon juice and serve right away.

Normandy SauceSauce Normandy

The Normandy Sauce is a classical sauce for fish and seafood made by flavouring a fish velouté with chopped mushrooms and then thickening it with a mixture of egg yolks and heavy cream called a liaison (click here for information on liaisons). This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

2 cups fish velouté
¼ cup fish stock
½ cup chopped mushrooms
½ cup heavy cream (or non-dairy creamer)
2 egg yolks
1½ tablespoons butter or margarine

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt 1 Tbsp of butter and sauté the mushrooms until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the velouté and the fish stock to the mushrooms. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and reduce by about one-third. In a stainless steel or glass bowl, beat together the cream and egg yolks until smooth. This egg-cream mixture is called a liaison. Slowly add about a cup of the hot velouté into the liaison, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks don’t curdle from the heat. Now gradually whisk the warm liaison back into the velouté. Bring the sauce back to a gentle simmer for just a moment, but don’t let it boil. Strain, swirl in the remaining butter and serve right away.

Allemande SauceSauce Allemande

The Allemande Sauce (which is also sometimes called “German Sauce”) is a finished sauce made by thickening a veal velouté with a mixture of egg yolks and heavy cream called a liaison. This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

2 cups veal velouté
¼ cup heavy cream (or non-dairy creamer)
1 egg yolk
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the velouté over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and reduce for about 5 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by about a cup. In a stainless steel or glass bowl, beat together the cream and egg yolk until smooth. This egg-cream mixture is your liaison. Slowly add about a cup of the hot velouté into the liaison, whisking constantly so that the egg yolk doesn’t curdle from the heat. Now gradually whisk the warm liaison back into the velouté. Bring the sauce back to a gentle simmer for just a moment, but don’t let it boil. Season to taste with Kosher salt, white pepper and lemon juice. Strain and serve right away.

Sauce SupremeSauce Suprême

The Suprême Sauce is a finished sauce made by enriching a chicken velouté sauce with heavy cream. This recipe will make about 1 quart of sauce.

Ingredients:

1 quart chicken velouté
1 cup heavy cream or non-dairy creamer
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, gently heat the heavy cream to just below a simmer, but don’t let it boil. Cover and keep warm. Heat the velouté in a separate saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and reduce for about 5 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by about a cup. Stir the warm cream into the velouté and bring it back to a simmer for just a moment. Stir in the butter, season to taste with Kosher salt and white pepper and just a dash of lemon juice. Strain through cheesecloth and serve right away.

French Country Chicken with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

French Country Chicken with Mushroom SauceThese boneless, skinless chicken breasts are sautéed and topped with a creamy non-dairy mushroom sauce, and fit great into a low-sodium diet with less than 100mg of sodium per serving. To round out the meal, serve over whole-wheat spaghetti or fettuccini with a steamed broccoli-carrot blend on the side. This recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each about 4 ounces
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 shallots, thinly sliced
⅓ pound mushrooms*, thinly sliced
1 ½ tablespoons flour
⅓ cup white wine
¾ cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 ½ tablespoons fresh rosemary* (or 1 ¼ teaspoons dried rosemary)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons chopped parsley*

Directions:

Place the chicken breasts between wax paper and pound with a mallet to flatten. Cut each piece in half lengthwise. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.

In a small frying pan, heat 1 ½ tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and wine until all the lumps are gone. Add the flour mixture to the shallots and mushrooms. Stir in the chicken stock and cook over medium-high heat. Stir until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the rosemary.

In a large, non-stick skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Sprinkle the chicken with the ground pepper, and add it to the pan. Sauté the chicken until it is no longer pink or until a thermometer inserted into the chicken reads 170 F, about 5 minutes.

To serve, transfer 2 chicken breast halves onto each plate. Spoon mushroom sauce over the chicken and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.

* To learn how to properly clean fresh rosemary, parsley and mushrooms, click here.

Risotto Milanese

Risotto

While risotto can be labour intensive, with all the stirring involved, the end dish is so worth it! This is a classic recipe in the Milanese style, calling for the use of Saffron. Saffron for those who are not familiar with it is the stigma from the crocus flower. It is pollinated and harvested by hand, making it one of the most expensive ingredients in the world. Luckily, a little goes a long way.  Saffron lends a distinctive taste and colour to this dish, and in my mind, is worth the price. This recipe makes 4-6 servings, as a side dish.

Ingredients:

extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, cut into ¼ inch dice
2 cloves of garlic, minced
kosher salt
2 cups Arborio rice
2 large pinches saffron
3 to 4 cups vegetable stock, kept HOT
1 to 1 ½ cups dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter
½ to ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Coat a large saucepan generously with olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and salt and sweat them until translucent, about 5 minutes. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat. Add the rice and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, letting the rice slightly stick to the bottom of the pan and scraping it off. It should also sound crackly. Add the saffron to the hot stock; the stock should turn bright yellow. Add the wine to the pan until it covers the surface of the rice. Season with salt and cook over a medium-high heat, stirring continuously until the wine has absorbed into the rice. Add the saffron stock to the pan until it covers the rice. Cook over a medium-high heat, stirring continuously until the stock has absorbed into the rice. Repeat this process two more times with the hot saffron stock. When the third addition of the stock has absorbed and the rice is very creamy, bite a couple grains of rice to be sure it is cooked perfectly. If it is still a little crunchy, add a little more stock and cook the rice for another couple of minutes. When the rice is cooked perfectly, remove it from the heat. Toss in the butter and cheese and “whip the heck out of it.” The rice should be creamy but still flow and hold its own shape.

Tre Formaggio Arancini (Three Cheese Rice Balls)

Arancini

This recipe may seem a little labour intensive, but trust me, the end result is worth it!! Of course, it’s always easier if you just happen to have left over risotto sitting around your kitchen :). For those of us that don’t though, you’ll find this a very easy recipe as it does not involve the time consuming process that a regular risotto does. Buon appetito!

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
½ cup dry white wine
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup arborio rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)
½ cup shredded fontina cheese (2 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 large eggs
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 ½ cups breadcrumbs, divided
vegetable oil, for frying

Directions:

Bring the broth and ¼ teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the rice, garlic and onion, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let cool completely (if you’re in a hurry, try sticking the sheet in the fridge or freezer!). Combine the pine nuts, mozzarella, fontina and parsley in a bowl and set aside. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then stir in the cooled rice mixture, the parmesan and ⅔ cup of the breadcrumbs. Shape the mixture into sixteen 1 ½ -inch balls. Put the remaining breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Press your finger into the centre of each rice ball, and insert 2 teaspoons of the cheese mixture, then pinch the rice around the filling to seal. Roll the balls in the breadcrumbs and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Loosely cover and refrigerate, at least 1 hour or overnight. (If refrigerating overnight, roll in more breadcrumbs before frying). Heat ½ inch vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F. Working in batches, fry the rice balls, turning, until golden brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels; season with salt. Enjoy hot with marinara sauce or plain!

Butternut Squash and Orzo with Fresh Sage

Butternut

This milchig side dish is delicious enough to be a main when served with a big salad and some crusty bread. Fresh sage really makes this dish, and I would not recommend using dried. Refer to the produce checking page to learn how to check sage for insects. You can sometimes find frozen diced squash in the freezer section at the grocer. If so, this is a huge time saver; not only in the prep but in cooking time as well.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons butter/margarine
1 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups butternut squash, cubed
4 cups vegetable stock
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup orzo
½ cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add squash cubes and stir to coat. Add ½ cup broth and wine. Cover and simmer until squash is just tender and liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Bring remaining 3 ½ cups of broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add orzo. Boil uncovered until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain if necessary. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in squash mixture, then cheese and sage. Season to taste with salt and pepper.