Posts Tagged ‘gourmet’


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).


Curried Chicken Salad

(serves 4 to 6 as a main course)



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



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


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A year and a half ago I was browsing through my mother’s books in her living room and I came to “The Boreal Gourmet – adventures in northern cooking”. It caught my eye, and I was soon going through it, savouring the stories and their accompanying recipes. The book is written by a woman who grew up in Toronto, was deeply influenced by her mother’s delicious cooking, spent time in Greece learning to cook traditional Greek food, and who finally ended up in the Yukon Territories cooking up a storm.

When my mother came in and found me reading the book she was very disappointed – somehow I’d managed to pick through her entire book collection to land on the ONE book I was not supposed to see – it was intended as a birthday present later that year for me. I quickly put it away and basically forgot its existence until my birthday a few months later.

Alexandra Falls gorge covered in 1.25m of snow!

Soon after I was given the book, though, I stepped into an adventure taking me to Gambia, and my exploration of the recipes in the book was postponed until this year when I have somehow managed to walk myself right into the Northern refrigerator. There is over a meter snow on the ground, the boreal forest is scraggly at best, and I live on the very Northern end of the Canadian Railway in the Northwest Territories. G. and I brought one cookbook with us: “The Boreal Gourmet”, and we’ve had a great time taking a crack at many recipes already.

Spirited cranberry sauce is great with everything from cheesecake to pancakes to meats… and probably many other things I have yet to try!

We’ve got a large mound of buffalo in the freezer, along with several whitefish fillets, and 10 cups of rosehips we’ve planned to transform into preserves. What fun! All these ingredients come from the land around us. I was hoping to harvest cranberries to make this sauce but the snow came unexpectedly fast, and so I was forced to buy a bag of fresh ones at the store (I was lucky enough to find some!).


2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

3 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp raw honey (I used wild honey from Gambia with a smoky flavour since that’s how they collect it by smoking the bees out!)

Juice and rind of two oranges

2 Tbsp rum


Put all ingredients into a pot, and add a Tbsp of water if the liquids are too low to get a simmer going. Simmer covered for 20 minutes, until thick. Use a fork to mix it up and puree the cranberries a bit.

Serve with roast meat or turkey, or with cheesecake (as I will post soon!)


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Although I should find it funny that it’s already the beginning of February, and I am still not sick of squash, it’s not surprising.  In fact, every time I go by it in the vegetable markets of Kensington I absolutely cannot resist it. Apparently Catherine and I have the same reflexes when squash come into our visual field: grab it and cook!

This recipe is the culmination of 4 people’s work over 3 hours… but don’t let that scare you away – we made enough to feed an army.  If we were aiming for fast, we would have simply made enough for 1 meal and it would have taken 1 hour tops.

I’m not one to shy away from lengthy culinary adventures – a soon-to-come post will attest to my entire Sunday being dedicated to baguettes.  For some reason, I have enjoyed dedicating entire  days to cooking since I was a little girl – I used to love preparing feasts for my family and family friends over 13 years ago – and I have continued the tradition since then.  The reward has been my improved efficiency at making such things as ravioli, bread, pasta, every-day-meals, desserts… I swear practise is key – not necessarily to perfection (although I still hope), but to comfort and enjoyment and competency – such that a meal is as effortless as possible,  and relaxing.

Well worth the effort!


Pasta dough – from Alfred Portale’s 12 Seasons Cookbook (p364)

-1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting the pasta dough
-1 1/4 cups durum semolina
-4 large eggs, at room temperature
-1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
-2 Tbsp water, or as needed

Ravioli stuffing

-3 leeks, washed, white part only, and diced in small pieces
-1 small butternut squash, cut in 1/2 lengthways, seeded, and roasted at 400 F for 30 min
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-Salt and pepper to taste

Sage olive oil

-4 Tbsp olive oil
-1 large shallot, sliced into rings
-20 sage leaves, washed, and removed from main stem
-1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)

Caramelized carrots

-4 large carrots, washed and cut into sticks
-3 Tbsp olive oil
-1 tsp rosemary (dried) or 1 Tbsp rosemary (fresh, chopped)
-1/2 tsp sea salt


Ravioli dough

Make the pasta dough in advance – at least 60 minutes.  If you have a food processor, make use of it!  If not, it’s no big deal – just a little more dirty work.  In a large bowl (or your food processor), mix the semolina and flour until well combined.  Separately, whisk together the eggs and olive oil.  Pour this mix into the flour, mix, and add just enough water for the dough to come together.  If it’s too sticky, add flour, pinch-by-pinch.  If it’s too dry, add 1 tsp of water at a time, until you get a smooth but firm dough.  Knead it for 10 minutes.  Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator.

Ravioli stuffing

This can be made while the pasta dough is resting.  Once the squash is roasted, scoop out the flesh into a bowl.  In a frying pan or sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add leeks when hot, and cook, while stirring, and season with salt and pepper.  Add the squash once the leeks have become translucent and fragrant.  Mix thoroughly.  Set aside to cool.

Caramelized carrots

Preheat oven to 375F (or 400F if you’re quick at making ravioli).  Cut carrots into sticks, toss with olive oil, rosemary, and salt.  Place in a large rectangle pyrex (glass) baking dish, making sure the carrots do not touch each other too much.  Place in oven, and bake for 40 – 50 minutes, turning them every 20 minutes or so.  Once they are browned on several sides, turn oven off and store them in the oven to keep warm until ravioli is ready.


Separate dough into 8 discs, take one and put the remaining 7 in a zip-lock bag or plastic wrap.  Pass dough through the thickest roller setting many times, folding it in half and repeating this until the dough is silky smooth and does not have any holes or irregularities (this step, although tedious at first, pays off – I promise!).  Once you have a firm and silky dough sheet, pass it through all of the consecutive settings until you reach the second finest. Prepare a second sheet the same way.  Let one rest on your work surface to be topped with spoonfuls of stuffing, and place the other near-by with a sheet of plastic over top.

Place small spoonfuls (or use a dough bag – my preferred option) of the stuffing 2 inches apart on the sheet of dough.  It will vary but you can count on getting columns of two spoonfuls across and usually 6 to 8 along the length of the sheet.  Prepare a small bowl full of water next to your work surface, and a butter knife or crimping pasta roller.   Dip your finger or a pastry brush into the water and make a grid with the water around the stuffing piles.  Carefully place second sheet over the top, and press down over each ravioli to seal around the stuffing.  Use butter knife or crimping roller to cut between individual ravioli.  Place prepared ravioli on a baking sheet covered generously with semolina flour.  You can leave them uncovered.  Continue the process with the remaining dough.  Ravioli can then be frozen (in individual layers) in the freezer, or they can be eaten fresh.  I recommend eating a batch immediately and saving the extra part for a special dinner.

Sage oil and ravioli cooking instructions

Bring a large (and I mean large) pot of water to a boil.  Salt it once it boils.  In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add the shallot rings once it is hot, and let them cook, stirring gently, for about 5 minutes.  Add the whole sage leaves, and the salt.  Cook for a further 5-10 minutes (while the water boils) – until the shallot is nicely golden-brown and the sage has dried.

Once the water has boiled and the sage oil is nearly ready, drop the ravioli in gently, and boil for approximately 3 minutes, until ready (if frozen, cook from frozen for approximately 6-7 minutes).  Strain using a slotted spoon and drop the cooked ravioli into the sage oil (over a burner that has been turned off).  Gently mix to cover ravioli.

Serve with the carrots and a sprinkle of parmesan if you like.  Otherwise, these are completely free of milk products if you omit the parmesan, and they are so delicious.

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