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This salad simply bursts with flavour.  The creamy curry dressing brings the chicken, mangos, and cashews to life. I love how the salad tastes decadent even though the ingredients themselves are fairly ordinary.  And in the middle of winter, it reminds me of lazy Autumn afternoons.

It holds well and makes for tasty leftovers – reserve the cashews to keep them crunchy if you don’t plan on eating all of the salad in one sitting.

This recipe comes from the Gourmet cookbook, one of my favourites.  Some of their recipes can be fussy, but this one is fairly straightforward. When cooking for company, I will specially poach chicken breasts, but if it’s just myself, I will use whatever leftover chicken I have on hand in the fridge (be in light or dark meat, from a roast or grilled).

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Curried Chicken Salad

(serves 4 to 6 as a main course)

 

Ingredients

For salad:

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (~1.5 lbs total)

2 Tbsp kosher salt

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 firm, but ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup red seedless grapes, halved

1/2 cup roasted cashews, coarsely chopped

 

For dressing:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup plain yogurt

5 tsp curry powder

1 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp ground ginger

Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

Poach the chicken:

Coat chicken with kosher salt in a bowl. Let stand at room temperature turning once or twice, for 15 minutes.

Rinse salt from chicken.  Poach chicken in a saucepan of barely simmering well-salted water, uncovered for 6 minutes.  Remove from heat and let chicken stand in cooking liquid, covered, until just cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and cool for 10 minutes.

Make the dressing:

Meanwhile, whisk together the mayo, yogurt, curry powder, lime juice, honey, ginger, salt and pepper, in a large bowl.

Assemble the salad:

Cut chicken into 1/2- inch pieces and add to dressing. Add onion, mango, grapes, and cashews. Stir gently to combine.

 

If you are preparing the salad in advance, reserve cashews and add to salad just before serving to avoid them becoming soggy.

Bon Appetit!

– Catherine

 

I am a mushroom addict.  So when I came across this appetizer that combined sautéed mushrooms with puff pasty, I knew I had to try it!

I’ve now made these beauties a few times, and without fail they get snatched up!  Who can resist caramelized onions and mushrooms topped with swiss cheese and served on a delectable puff pasty?

I love that these tartlets are easy to make, yet sophisticated – the best sort of food in my mind. They take some time to prep (caramelizing takes a little patience), but certainly worth the effort!  These would be perfect served either at a snazzy Christmas party or for a relaxed weekend dinner.

Thanks to Brown Eyed Baker for the recipe!

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Caramelized Onion, Mushroom, and Gruyere Tartlets

(Makes 16 3-inch tartlets)

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp unsalted butter
16 oz white button or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼ c. white wine (can substitute chicken or vegetable broth)
2 sheets puff pastry (thawed according to directions on package)
1 c. grated Gruyere cheese (can substitute any variety of Swiss cheese)
1 egg + 1 tablespoon water, beaten together (for the egg wash)
Handful of parsley, chopped

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Heat the olive oil in a wide, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to caramelize, about 20 minutes.

Add the butter to the pan. Once melted, add the mushrooms and saute, stirring occasionally, until they are completely soft and all of the liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes.

Add the garlic and the thyme and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to pull up all of the browned bits, and cook until all of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat.

Unfold the thawed sheets of puff pastry and cut out circles from the dough (if you don’t have a cookie cutter, the edge of a narrow glass work great), placing them evenly spaced on the baking sheets. Using a very sharp knife, make four small scores around the perimeter of the dough, about ¼ to ½-inch from the edge.

Top the rounds of puff pastry with a small spoonful of the onion and mushroom mixture, trying to keep the filling within the score marks. Top with the shredded Gruyere cheese. Brush the edges of the dough rounds with the egg wash.

Bake until the pastry is golden brown, about 15 to 25 minutes. Broil for 1-2 mins to make the cheese bubbly and brown. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Best served warm.

Bon appetit!
– Catherine

I am not a big sweet tooth, but there is something special about Christmas baking – the deluxe ingredients, the warm atmosphere, the special company.  As a child, I always knew Christmas baking season was upon us by the quadrupling of butter quantities in our fridge.  As per tradition, we would make the same six cookies: swedish pastries, candy cane cookies, pecan puffs, icebox, gingersnaps,  and shortbread. I continue to absolutely love these family classics, but for a cookie-exchange I wanted to try something new.

Sitelle came to my rescue and suggested this divine recipe.  It combines two of my favourite flavours – ginger and dark chocolate, in a soft and sparkly cookie. The dark chocolate gives these cookies a richness and the candied ginger gives them spunk.  In one word, amazing!

The recipe comes from the Holiday 2015 LCBO Food & Drink magazine.

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Chocolate Ginger Sparkle Cookies

Makes ~40 cookies

 

Ingredients

8 oz (250 g) dark 70% chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter, softened

2/3  cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

1/2 cup approx. coarse white sugar (or granulated sugar)

 

Directions

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of hot, not boiling water.  Stir until smooth and let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add cooled chocolate, oil, and vanilla, and beat until well blended.  Stir in flour mixture until blended.  Stir in ginger.  Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Place coarse sugar in a shallow  bowl.

Scoop 1-tbsp sized prices of sough and roll into balls.  Roll in coarse sugar to evenly coat dough and shake off excess. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Keep remaining dough and rolled cookies cold while baking the previous batch.

Bake, 1 sheet at a time, for 8 or 9 minutes, or until cookies are puffed, starting to crack and edges are just set (the centres will still be soft).  Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Store cookies between layers of parchment paper in a cooking tin at room temperature for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

My grandmother passed last month. Her passing was sudden and unexpected, so it took awhile to sink in that she was really gone.

In so many ways, she was a remarkable woman. She was incredibly strong, never one to complain. I never heard her say an ill word of anyone. She was a veteran, serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force. And she was fiercely proud of all her grandchildren, cheering us on in life.

She also was a personal inspiration, one of my first mentors in the culinary world. She cooked simply, and loved to feed others. When I visited my grandparents in Edmonton, I loved wandering through their vegetable garden. Arriving mid-summer, there would be the soft fronds of carrot greens and the tender leaves of beets. Zucchinis would be hidden among the broad leaves and the herbs would be fragrant. Her rhubarb was prized: always abundant and ruby red.

To satiate my family’s sweet tooth, she would always have cookies or squares or a pie hidden away in a cupboard. To this day, I associate gingersnap cookies with her kitchen – our family would often indulge in a few of these cookies as a bedtime treat with a glass of milk.

To make sense of her passing, I recently felt a need to bake gingersnap cookies. Her recipe is sharper than some, with a healthy dose of ginger. There is certainly a time and a place for chewy gingerbread, but sometimes a crunchy version is just what you need. And these cookies are definitely snappy.

My family always makes these at Christmas, taking extra time to roll out the dough and decorate them with sprinkles and silver balls. During the year, they are a fabulous icebox recipe: simply roll the dough into a log, freeze, slice the log, and pop the rounds into the oven.   The challenge is always to limit yourself to one or two…

Gingersnaps

Icebox Gingersnap Cookies

(~100 cookies)

Ingredients:

1 c. butter

1 ¾ c. white sugar

2 eggs

½ c. molasses

3 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. cloves

½ tsp. salt

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

4 ½ c. flour

Directions:

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the molasses, spices, and baking soda. Sift in the flour, and mix until integrated within the dough.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cut cookies using either the icebox or rolling pin method (see below). Place cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cook for ~10 minutes or until the bottom is golden. Transfer to a cookie rack and allow to cool.

To roll out the cookies:

Form the dough into a large ball. Cover in saran wrap and cool in fridge for 30 minutes. Roll dough out on a clean, floured surface using a large rolling pin to ¼ inch (0.5 cm) thick. Use your favourite cookie cutter to make your favourite shapes. If interested, use sprinkles, silver balls, or other special ingredients to decorate prior to baking.

To make icebox cookies:

Roll the dough into 2-3 inch (5-8 cm) logs. Wrap in wax paper and cool in the freezer for approximately 60 minutes. Using a sharp knife, slice the log into thin ¼ inch (0.5 cm) rounds.

Note that the logs keep beautifully in the freezer for up to 3 months. If not baking immediately, make sure to wrap the logs thoroughly to avoid freezer burn. When ready for delicious cookies, simply remove log from freezer and slice the cookies as above.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

For the first time in my life, I am on the West Coast of Canada, enjoying the casual Vancouver life. I’ve been indulging in delicious seafood, and it reminded me of one of my favourite seafood salads.

This salad is the very essence of fresh – the cool cucumber and green melon accents the crab meat perfectly.  The mayonnaise dressing is lightened with lemon and dill, making the seafood shine.  This is one of my favourite salads to enjoy as it’s simultaneously light and refreshing, while filling.

I can’t take credit for this salad – that goes to my mom a few decades ago who had the brilliant idea of substituting imitation crab meat for chicken in a Silver Palate recipe.  It’s been a family favourite ever since, often the star during a picnic lunch. The salad keeps well undressed for a few days in the fridge – so if it’s just me enjoying it, I’ll dress individual portions as I eat them to help it hold. To make it a meal, serve with a crusty roll and enjoy!

Neptune Salad

Neptune Salad

Ingredients

1 lb imitation crab meat, flake style (usually blend of Alaska polluck and king crab)

2 cups honeydew melon balls

2 cups cucumber balls with skin

4 green onions, chopped

2 cups washed green or red seedless grapes, halved

½ cup chopped fresh dill

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon (optional)

Coarsely ground fresh pepper and salt, to taste

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest, and seasoning until thoroughly mixed.

Shred the imitation crab meat into bite-size pieces and place into a large bowl. Add the melon and cucumber balls, grapes, green onions, and dill. Fold the mayonnaise mixture into the salad. Adjust seasoning to taste.  Best served cold.

Bon appetit!

Inspired by the changing autumn colours, the crisp morning bike rides through the streets of Ottawa, and the bountiful harvest, I sometimes feel like I cannot satisfy my desire to cook at this time of year. There are so many things I’d like to make!

This soup is inspired from rebar, a fantastic cookbook Catherine has already talked about. What I love about this soup is the tangy, rich and spicy flavour, in the form of a light soup. It is simply delicious!IMG_20151004_200842

Ingredients – 6 servings

-1 1/2 lb tomatillos, de-husked and washed
-1 hot chili of your taste (jalapeno or other), diced. You can remove or keep the seeds depending on how spicy you want it
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-4 garlic cloves, minced, and divided in 1/4 and 3/4
-1/2 tsp salt and pepper

-6 cups vegetable stock, kept hot while preparing the rest
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-1 red pepper, diced
-1 tsp ground coriander
-1 tsp salt
-2 cups corn kernels
-1 small zucchini, chopped
-1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
-1/2 lime, juiced

Directions

Preheat oven to 425. Cut the tomatillos in half and place in a bowl with the olive oil, the chili and 1/4 of the garlic. Toss with salt and pepper and then place in a large enough baking dish that they can all be roasted without being piled up. Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes until they are browned and roasted. Cut in quarters and set aside.

In a saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer, with the corn kernels.

In a large soup pot with a lid, heat the olive oil. Sauté the onion until it softens. Add the red pepper, the garlic, coriander, salt, and sauté for a further 3 minutes before adding the zucchini. Once the zucchini is in add the minced cilantro and stir, until the veggies are soft and the garlic is fragrant. Add the stock and lime juice and bring to a boil. Simmer the mixture for 30 minutes, then add the roasted tomatillo mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Add cilantro leaves for garnish. This is a delicious tangy soup you can have as a full meal with fresh corn bread or as a first course in a bold autumn feast!

-Sitelle

When I hosted brunch a few weeks ago, I had visions of serving my favourite brunch fare, quiche.  Our start time, however, was too ambitious for me to make a homemade pie crust.   I was determined however to have my egg fix, so I decided to switch tactics and embrace a frittata.

As a quiche lover (and who wouldn’t want to enjoy tender flaky crusts when possible?) I have very little experience making a frittata. I was looking for a bright, fun vegetarian recipe.  A quick google search brought me to this mouthwatering dish from Gimme some Oven – cheesy eggs infused with roasted red peppers, pesto, and arugula sounded like a delicious combination to try.

I loved the fresh flavour combination, along with the ease of assembling!  And I may have to bring this dish out at Christmas given the gorgeous red and green colours.

Roasted Red Pepper, Pesto, and Arugula Frittata
Baked Frittata with Roasted Red Peppers, Arugula, and Pesto

Serves 9-12

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil plus extra to grease pan

1 white onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

8 eggs, whisked

1 (12-oz) jar of roasted red peppers, drained and diced

2 large handfuls of baby arugula, roughly chopped

2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup pesto

Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch pie plate with olive oil.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent. Stir in garlic and saute an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Remove from heat.

In a separate large bowl, combine the eggs, roasted red peppers, arugula, cheese, pesto, salt and pepper. Add in the onion mixture, and stir until combined. (Note – it will resemble vomit at this point, but I promise you, persevere as it will taste delicious!)

Pour the filling into the prepared pie pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. The frittata will rise while baking, but should settle back down once you remove it from the oven. Allow the frittata to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine