Sunday, March 28, 2010

Du Puy Lentils with Broccoli

I love lentils. Du Puy lentils are my favorite, not only do they hold up better when cooked ( due to having less starch in them) but they are so pretty to look at! I made this recipe as a main dish but you could easily use it as an accompaniment to grilled fish,roast pork, or a vegetarian dinner alongside baked butternut squash or pile of caramelized roasted root vegetables like parsnips, celery root, and carrots.

  • 1¼ cup (250 gr) French du Puy Lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a few springs of fresh thyme
  • 5 leaves of kale (chopped)
  • salt
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 bulb of fennel (optional), finely diced
  • freshly-ground pepper
  • 1 bunch of broccoli florets
  • olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • saute the diced onion, carrot and fennel in a large pot
  • Transfer the lentils to a large saucepan then cover with a copious amount of water, which should cover the lentils by at least 3-4 inches. Add the bay leaf .
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, add a bit of salt, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are just tender, adding more water if necessary. Be sure not to overcook them.
  • While the lentils are cooking, cut broccoli into florets and steam them.
  • 5mins before the lentils are done add the chopped kale and fresh thyme to the mixture and cook until the kale is tender.
  • Remove lentils from heat then taste, and season with more salt, pepper, and olive oil if desired. Remove bay leaf..
  • Place steamed broccoli on top of lentils and add a generous amount of olive oil and the juice from the lemon.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Steak & Guinness pie with Colcannon.

For St. Patrick's day 2010 I decided to take a stab at making some Irish food. I adore potatoes so they naturally had to be on the menu. I made Colcannon, a mix of potato, cabbage and leeks that is so good I could have eaten just that, as a main course. I also made some personal size Steak and Guinness pies, just because I thought they would be cuter in ramekins.

  • 1kg chuck steak (1 inch cubes)
  • 1 onion -diced
  • 2 carrots -diced
  • 2 leeks- diced
  • 1.5 cans of Guinness
  • 200 ml water
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp of oxo or 50ml beef stock
  • 5ml worcester sauce
  • teaspoon thyme
  • pastry

  • Chop the onion, carrot and leeks into bite-sized chunks and set aside.
  • In a heavy pan add the oil and brown the steak in small batches, set aside and deglaze the pan with a small amount of the Guinness, add this to the resting beef.
  • Heat the last of the oil and soften the onion and the vegetables. Add the rested meat and juices back into the pan with the vegetables and add the bay leaf, fresh thyme and Worcester sauce.
  • Add the water until just showing under the meat and vegetables and then add the Guinness to cover.
  • Cook on a low heat on the hob or in the oven uncovered for approx 1 hour until tender and reduced slightly.
  • You can thicken the sauce by mixing a little of the leftover Guinness with flour and added to the mix for the final 20 minutes, this also adds a touch more flavour. When done leave to cool.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350degrees.
  • Roll out pastry (I used pre-packaged store bought pastry)
  • Butter your cooking dish (pie dish or ramekins) , then line with the larger pastry sheet, leaving the edges dangling over the side.
  • Fill the dish with the stew mixture.
  • Cut the other rolled sheet of pastry to fit the top of the pie dish and criss-cross it lightly with a sharp knife. Place it over the top of the pie and fold the overhanging pastry on to the pastry lid to make it look nice and rustic.
  • Bake the pie directly on the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes, until the pastry is cooked, puffed and golden.


  • 1lb potato
  • 1lb cabbage
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 cup of milk
  • salt and pepper
  • butter


  • In a large saucepan, boil cabbage until tender; remove and chop or blend well. Set aside and keep warm. Boil potatoes until tender. Remove from heat and drain.
  • Chop leeks, green parts as well as white, and simmer them in just enough milk to cover, until they are soft.
  • Season and mash potatoes well. Stir in cooked leeks and milk. Blend in the kale or cabbage and heat until the whole is a pale green fluff. Make a well in the center and pour in the melted butter. Mix well.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

My first Christmas dinner.

Christmas 2009 was my first time making dinner for more than two people. We made turkey for Christmas dinner and didn't want to do another one so we decided to go with a different Christmas eve menu. Roast beef with Yorkshire puddings is one of my favorite festive family meals and as I had never made it before I was both excited to try it and nervous to make it perfect.

I spent the week leading up to the big night practicing the Yorkshires to make sure they would rise on the big night. The recipe I have written here is the result of trial and error and in the end I think we came up with the best way to have golden brown nicely risen puddings. Along with these dishes we made a salad, mashed yams and mashed potato. I will do a perfect mashed potato post later on.

Roast Beef:
  • 1.5kg Beef eye of round (organic free range)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • a small bunch of fresh thyme, rosemary, bay or sage, or a mixture
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • roasted vegetables from your roasting tray
  • 1 heaped dessertspoon plain flour
  • a wineglass of red wine, white wine or cider,
  • dash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 litre vegetable, chicken or beef
  • stock, preferably organic
  • If you buy your roast before the day you use it, put it in the fridge on a plate and turn periodically to keep the juices even through the cut of meat.
  • Make sure you take the meat out of the fridge at least a half hour before you are going to cook it.
  • Preheat your oven to 240°C/475°F
  • Drizzle the beef with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper, rubbing it all over the meat .
  • In a large pan on medium heat with a little olive oil, sear the meat on all sides until brown to lock in the juices.
  • Pile all the vegetables, garlic and herbs into the middle of a large roasting tray, lay the beef on top of the vegetables and drizzle everything with olive oil
  • Place the roasting tray in the preheated oven
  • Turn the heat down immediately to 200°C/400°F and cook for 1 hour for medium beef, for medium-rare take it out 5 to 10 minutes earlier.
  • If you have a meat thermometer, you can use it to test when the roast is done. I prefer rare meat and cook mine until the internal temperature is 130-135 degrees F. For medium rare remove at 140-145
  • When the beef is cooked to your liking, take the tray out of the oven and transfer the beef to a board to rest for at least 15 mins. This will ensure that the roast is tender because it will reabsorb its juices. Cover it with a layer of tinfoil and a tea towel and put aside while you make your gravy, horseradish sauce and Yorkshire puddings.

Yorkshire puddings:

2 c. flour
2 c. milk (room temperature)
6 eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp salt
vegetable oil (1 tablespoon per yorkshire)

Makes about 12 puddings

The secret is very hot oil and room temperature ingredients and the batter a poured into the trays as fast as you can. Using ingredients straight from the fringe will cool down the oil when you add them to the trays and your puddings will rise much less.

  • Turn over to full heat (475 F) and let preheat fully, place the muffin pan on a cooking sheet on the top shelf of the over while you are preheating.
  • Whisk the eggs, flour, salt, and milk together really well to make the batter.
  • Pour the batter into a jug or bowl and let rest for 30 minutes
  • When the oven is to temperature, open the door and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to each muffin hole in the muffin pan. Push the oven shelf back into the oven and shut the door. Heat oil for 5mins until smoking hot.
  • Open the oven door and slide the shelf half out and quickly fill each muffin hole with batter up to 2/3 rds of each hole then quickly and carefully slide the shelf back into the oven.
  • Leave the oven door shut for 15 mins. Do not open!
  • Remove them after 15 mins as the puddings will be golden on the outside and soft on the inside. If you prefer them more cooked, turn the oven down to 300 degrees and cook for another 10mins.

Roasted Acorn Squash With Butter and Cranberries

1 acorn squash, cleaned and cut into 6 sections
olive oil
salt and peper
1 cup of dried cranberries
1/4 cup of butter


  • Arrange the sections of squash in a baking dish.
  • Drizzle olive oil over squash pieces.
  • Season with salt and pepper and scatter over some of the fresh thyme with a few of the whole thyme sprigs.
  • Bake in a 350 Fahrenheit oven for 20-25 minutes or until quite soft and golden brown.
  • While the squash is baking, melt the butter until lightly brown then add cranberries to soften them.
  • Remove the squash from the oven and drizzle the butter and cranberry mixture over them.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Falafel inspired veggie burgers.


1 15-ounce (500 g) cans chickpeas
2 garlic cloves, minced
handful of parsley, minced
handful of cilantro, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 large egg
approx 1/4 cup flour or chickpea flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
A generous sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper
toppings of hummus, avocado, tomato, and sprouts.

  • Drain and rinse the chickpeas in a colander. Pour them into a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher.
  • Add the garlic, parsley, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Mix it up really well with your hands. Add the egg and continue mixing. Add the flour and continue mashing the mixture around with your hands until all is well-combined.
  • Form into thin patties.
  • Heat an even layer of olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. When a tiny bit of the chickpea mixture starts bubbling and frying, the oil is ready.
  • Fry until golden brown ( approx 5-7 mins per side), remove and let sit on kitchen paper to remove excess oil.
  • Add toppings of hummus, avocado, tomato, and sprouts.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Boiled eggs.

Boiled eggs are a seemingly easy thing to make but when done poorly they can have a dark green discolored coating on the yolk and the smell of sulfur. I love a well done egg, but really cannot stomach them when they are not properly cooked. There are many ways of boiling an egg, this method comes from Jacques Pepin's series "Fast food my way".

Find the bottom of the egg (the end that is the least pointy). Gently poke a pin hole in the eggs This allows the egg to release pressure when dropped in the boiling water. (see little bubbles below)

Gently boil the eggs for ten minutes.

There are two different ways to break the shells. First you can drain the water from the pot, and then quickly move the pot in circles to bang the eggs against the side to crack the shells. The other method is just to remove the eggs and put them in a bowl and move it in circles to crack the shells. I find the first method was more effective.

Immediately submerge the eggs in ice water until they are cool. This helps to remove that sulfur smell you can get in some boiled eggs.

Once the eggs have cooled, run under cold water over the eggs while you peel the shells off. This helps to more easily separate the shell from the membrane without tearing the egg white.

You are done! To tell if the egg is perfectly cooked, cut one in half. There should be no grey/green ring between the yolk and white, and the yolk should be cooked through and all the same colour of yellow. If you undercook them a little (as I did in this photo =P) next time you make them cook them for an extra minute. Finding the perfect time is the most difficult thing, and cooking time varies depending on your altitude (I am at sea level).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Fresh Pasta and red wine.

Marcato's Atlas 150 pasta maker is one of the recent additions to our kitchen. The boy had been going on forever about wanting one, so we decided to hit up cookworks and make his life long dream of fresh pasta a reality. I had never had fresh pasta before and really didn't understand why he was so into this idea, thinking pasta is pasta...meh. I now know how ignorant I was on this matter.

Our first attempt at noodles was a total success and not as difficult as I would have thought. The fresh pasta had so much more flavour and texture then any pasta I had ever had, making me realize every pasta I had ever eaten was a pale comparison to the real deal.

After our dinner we both agreed that we would never be buying pasta at the supermarket again. We made ours with meatballs, but in the future I would just do a marinara sauce so that I can eat way more noodles. All this plus it was so much fun!

  • Pasta:

  • 3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 cup Semolina Flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Thoroughly sift together all-purpose flour, semolina flour, and salt on a clean surface. Make a mountain out of the mixture then make a deep well in center. Break the eggs, oil and water into a bowl and beat with a fork. Pour the mixture into the well a little at a time, gradually incorporating flour from the sides of the well.
  • Knead dough for several minutes until it is smooth and springy (about 3 to 5 minutes). You'll know the dough is the right consistency when it does not stick to the counter and has a smooth surface. If it does stick, add a little flour. If it tears, add a little water. When done kneading, wrap dough tightly in plastic and allow it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • SIDE NOTE: Don't leave the pasta to sit for too long. The dough will become too soft and will bunch up in the pasta maker when trying to make noodles.
  • Roll out dough with a pasta machine or a rolling pin to desired thickness. Cut into your favorite style of noodle or stuff with your favorite filling to make ravioli. Bring water to a boil in a large pot, then add 4 teaspoons salt. Cook pasta until tender but not mushy, 1 to 8 minutes depending on thickness. Drain immediately and toss with your favorite sauce.

  • Meatballs:

  • 225g ground beef (organic)
  • 225g pound ground pork(organic)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 60g freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 3/4 tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup stale bread, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Combine beef, and pork in a large bowl. Add garlic, eggs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.
  • Blend bread crumbs into meat mixture.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Fry meatballs in batches. When the meatball is very brown and slightly crisp remove from the heat and drain on a paper towel.
  • Place cooked meatballs into Marinara Sauce and cook for 15 more minutes


1/4 cup of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic sliced in half
1 35oz can of imported Italian tomatoes
salt & pepper to taste
3 basil leaves, washed, patted dry and chopped
  • Place garlic and olive oil in a large sauce pan.
  • Turn heat to medium and cook garlic till soft and lightly browned.
  • Add tomatoes and crush with their juices.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring to a boil, then lower and simmer for 20-25mins.
  • Add chopped basil at the end, stir for one min.