Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I love this traditional Quebec recipe or, perhaps I should say my compilation of several old Quebec recipes. We serve it around Christmas.


1 pat butter
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup celery leaves chopped
2 large onions finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 kilo of ground pork or mix other ground meat with the pork such as beef or perhaps a bit of chicken
1 cup water
1/2 cup parsley chopped
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 heaping tsp dried savory
Salt & pepper
Pastry for 2 or 3 double crusted 9 inch pies

In a large saucepan, saute the celery, onions and garlic with a good sized pat of butter. When the onion is transparent add the meat and the water and simmer until it begins to brown.
Add the salt, pepper cloves, cinnamon, savory, celery leaves and parsley, then stir.
Simmer for about half an hour adding a bit more water if needed.
Correct the seasoning at this point if necessary.
Pour off the fat and let the mixture cool.
Add the mixture to the pie shells and cover with pastry cutting a few slits into the top crust. I ofter cut in a Christmas tree design.
At this point you can either pop them into a 400 degree oven or freeze them.
If you decide to cook them now they will take about 30 to 40 minutes - a bit longer if they are frozen - in either case cook them until the pastry is browned.
Serve hot or cold.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Chicken with Rosemary, Sherry and Lemon

I tried a new chicken recipe the other day and although it was meant for a roast chicken, and I used a couple of chicken legs it was very good, if not what the original recipe intended.


2, 3 or 4 chicken legs with the backs removed
the juice on 1 lemon
1 lemon thinly sliced
1 medium onion thinly sliced


3 Tbsp of Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 Tbsp sherry or port
2 or 3 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary (dried if you can't get fresh)


1 1/2 ounces sherry or port
1/4 cup whipping cream

Cooking Instructions

In a small bowl combine all the ingredients for the paste (You could whip it all together with a hand held blender if you have one.)
Rub the marinade into the chicken legs gently pushing some under the skin where you can.
Put it all in a plastic bag and leave in the fridge for at least an hour

Preheat the oven to 350
Take a small roasting pan, put the onion and the lemon slices in the pan and place the chicken on top. Squeeze out any marinade left in the bag and make sure the chicken is evenly covered with it.
Pour the lemon juice over the chicken.
Put it in the oven.

Cook for about 45 minutes or until the chicken seems done.
Take the chicken out of the pan and keep warm.
While the chicken rests, place the roasting pan on the stove and heat the pan juices. add the sherry or port and bring to a boil. Scrape the pan bottom with a wooden spoon loosening the bits.
Turn the heat down and add the whipping cream. Stir until it thickens a bit.

Serve the chicken with some sauce poured over the top.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Lamb Shanks with five Heads of Garlic

There already is a lamb shanks recipe here somewhere I think but I tried a new one yesterday and thought I'd share it. I like it because as a lazy cook I am always looking for shortcuts. You have to braise this lamb first, it braises in the oven really, which is fine with me.
The recipe is from the Aragon region of Spain.
If you are not a garlic fan, move on to something else. If you are, this smells great while it is cooking and tastes delicious.

3 or 4 lamb shanks
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large or 2 medium onions cut into wedges
2 carrots peeled and cut into chunks
1 head of garlic separated into cloves and peeled, then lightly smashed
4 heads of garlic with the outer skin removed
Olive oil
3 large rosemary sprig
3/4 cup white wine
About 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock

Pre-heat the oven to 475 F

Brushs the lamb with olive oil then rub the lamb with salt and pepper.

Take out your heavy cast iron pot or dutch oven with a lid (If there is no lid tin foil will do in a pinch) and put the onions, carrots and garlic in the bottom of the pot. Pour in a bit of olive oil and stir them up until they are coated. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Place the shanks on top of the vegtables then tuck in the heads of garlic and the rosemary between the shanks. Brush everything with a bit more olive oil then put the pot into the oven uncovered.

At the 25 minute point check to make sure the vegetables at the bottom of the pot are not starting to burn. If they are add a little water. Bake the shanks for about total of 45 minutes at 475 F.

After 45 minutes take out the pot and turn the heat down to 425. Add the wine and the stock until the cover the shanks and the heads of the garlic about half way. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and pop it all back into the oven.

Bake the lamb shanks for about 2 more hours turning them a couple of times during this period.

Move the shanks, vegetables, garlic heads and all onto a serving platter. The pan juices are ready to go and serve as a delicious gravy. It they are thinner than you like reduce them on the stove top.

Serve with a fresh vegetable and potatoes.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Frittata for Breakfast

A frittata is a kind of quiche on steroids. It is Italian in origin but my guess is this recipe is not really as much authentic as it is delicious. Generally I make frittata with whatever I have in the fridge so the outcome can vary tremendously however, I never cooked a frittata I didn't like.

A few left over boiled potatoes cut into small pieces.
Olive oil as needed
1 onion chopped
1 clove garlic finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1 red pepper cut into small pieces
2 round slices of pancetta cut into small cubes
5 eggs
¼ cup milk or cream
1 cup cheddar cheese grated
½ cup Parmesan cheese grated.

Turn the oven on to heat at 450 degrees.
First fry up the pancetta until it begins to crisp. Set it aside.
Put a bit of olive oil in a cast iron frying pan a fry up the potatoes. As the potatoes begin to brown add in the onion and garlic and shortly after season with salt and pepper.
When the onions are translucent add the pepper and the pancetta. Mix it all up making sure that nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Beat the eggs with the milk and add them to the pan. The egg mixture should almost cover the potato mixture.
Spread the cheeses on top and put it all into the hot oven.
After 10 minutes or so take the pan out and check for doneness by sticking in a knife or fork. It is is runny ­inside, pop it back into the oven. If not, it is ready to serve.
Make sure the sides will free up easily by running a knife around the outside.
Take a plate and place it over the pan. Turn the pan upside down. The frittata should come out cleanly onto the plate. Place a new plate on top of the frittata and turn it over again.
Serve it cheese side up.
It will easily cut into 4 or 6 servings as needed.
It is good hot or cold.

Note: Feel free to experiment, if you don't have left over potatoes use frozen hash browns, try bacon or sausage instead of pancetta, almost any vegetables will work in this dish, artichoke hearts, zucchini or green onions. You can mix up the cheese as well.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Quick and Easy Chicken Cacciatore

I have a great recipe for Chicken Cacciatore made from scratch but, there are days where I just don't have the time or energy to put it all together. Quick and easy doesn't have to mean bland. This recipe proves that.

There is no need to cut up a whole chicken, buy legs or thighs for this dish. Dredge them with flour and brown them in some olive oil using a deep fry pan.
When they are well browned, take them out and set aside.
Add one finely chopped onion to the pan along with a couple of finely chopped cloves of garlic. Cook then until the onion is translucent being careful not to brown them. Put the chicken back into the pan, stir things around, add one can of Hunt's chopped tomatoes with Olive Oil and Garlic along with a cup or so of chicken stock. Stir.
Bring it all up to a slow boil. Add a tablespoon of oregano and a couple of shakes of red pepper flakes and stir again and turn down the heat.
Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes.
Before it is quite done cook up some of your favorite spaghetti. Drain and put it into a serving bowl. Add your favorite cheese then pour the tomato mixture over the pasta.
Stir and serve.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mussels a la Plancha

This is my new favorite way of cooking mussels. This is as simple as a recipe gets but it is very good.
I prefer cultivated P.E.I. mussels but chaque un a son gout as they say in Quebec.
A la plancha means on the griddle or skillet.

You will need about a kilo of mussels or less depending on how many you are feeding. Much more and you should do two batches, otherwise it will become unmanageable.

Take a large cast iron or other type of skillet and get it quite hot. Hot enough so that drops of water will dance across the pan when dropped on it.

Put one quick swirl of olive oil in the pan then drop in all the mussel at once. It works best if there is only the one layer of mussels but don't worry if you have a double layer. It will work fine but you might have to stir them up as they cook.

The mussels will cook in their own juices and will open as they cook. A couple of times, shake in a bit of salt and pepper mixing them up each time.

When all the mussels are open, squeeze the juice of a couple of limes all over them and serve them in the pan you cooked them in.

You might want some melted butter to dip the mussels in if you insist but, I don't really think you need it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Banana Butterscotch Mousse

I don't have a sweet tooth so don't eat dessert very often.This one is from Gordon Ramsay's Fast Food and I think you'll like it. It is everything you want in a recipe, simple, quick and very tasty.

1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 Tbsp butter
2 1/4 cups whipping cream
4 large bananas
a squeeze of lemon juice
good dark chocolate to grate on top.

Put the sugar, butter and 2/3 of a cup of whipping cream in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted. Once that is done let it bubble away for a couple of minutes, stirring often, then set aside and let it cool.

Pour the remaining cream into a blender. Add the bananas, broken into small peices along with a squeeze of lemon and blend until the mixture is smooth, thick and creamy.

Spoon a bit of the butterscotch sauce around the edge of a martini glass smearing it for effect. Divide up the banana mousse amongst the 4 glasses. Use a small teaspoon to ripple the remainder of the butterscotch through the mousse. Chill.

Just before serving grate a bit of chocolate over the top of the mousse.

Peas with Double Smoked Bacon

Peas are not a favorite vegetable in our house. I like them but...everyone else would just as soon pass them up. I was looking for something a bit different and came across this. This was originally a Jamie Oliver recipe. I have adapted it a bit for my own taste. It was a big hit. I think you'll like it.

4 or 5 slices of double smoked bacon
an ounce or more of olive oil
frozen peas (to feed 4 or 5)
a squeeze of lemon
1 Tbsp butter

Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry them in the olive oil until crisp, set aside. Drain most but not all the oil off
Cook the peas up according to the package instructions, drain
Put them into a serving bowl, mix in the bacon, the butter and add the squeeze of lemon
Stir and serve.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Chicken Legs with White Wine, Sage and Honey

I like to use chicken legs because they are often on sale, in bulk, with backs attached. They are a good buy generally. I almost always cut off the backs and freeze them. When I have enough, I make stock.

This dish is very easy to make and is very tasty. The sauce is sweet and full of flavour.


2 tablespoons Olive Oil

4 chicken leg and thighs,

salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped

7 sage leaves, 1 tablespoon
1/2cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken or veggie stock
2 large sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon, honey
balsamic vinegar

Fettuccine, enough for 4

Season chicken. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the Olive Oil and heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, and brown. Remove chicken from the pan, Pour out all fat except 1 tablespoon. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add and Sauté the onions. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often so they don’t burn. Add garlic the last few minutes. Rub the sage leaves between your hands then lay the sage leaves into the pan and then add the thyme. Stir.

Return the chicken to the skillet, skin side up. Add the wine, stock and honey. Bring to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 35 or 40 minutes. Remove the chicken, place on a plate put in a warming oven to keep warm. Place the skillet on a medium flame, add the balsamic vinegar to the braising liquid, and reduce until it starts to thickened Adjust seasoning.

Serve on a bed of fettuccine with a good dab of butter or olive oil mixed in. Lay a chicken leg on top and spoon the liquid the chicken cooked in, over the chicken and pasta.

Serves: 4

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Skillet Cornbread

I really do think a great way to start a weekend morning is to make some cornbread. I often made cornmeal muffins Saturday mornings but lately I have decided that skillet cornbread is the way to go. It is very good and very easy to make. I quite dislike the sweet cakey cornbread that restaurants tend to serve. Montana`s Restaurant cornbread is particularly bad. Mine is firm and not very sweet. It should be served with butter and, if you like, a bit of maple syrup. If you are more of a traditionalist, serve it with molasses.

What you need to start, is a cast iron skillet. First thing, heat the oven to 425 degrees, wipe some oil around the skillet and put it in the oven.


1 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Mix these ingredients together in a bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together

2 large eggs,
2/3 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup milk
3 Tbsp melted butter of vegetable oil

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Take the skillet out of the oven and scrape the mixed batter into the hot skillet. Put it back into the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. When the top is brown it is ready and should easily turn out onto a plate.
Slice it as you eat it a piece at a time, to keep it warm.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Spanish Potato Tortilla

First thing...this ain't your Mexican Tortilla.

This is a kind of Spanish Omelet, good hot or cold. It is very popular in Spain. Over Christmas I have been reading several books written by people who have walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostella, the old medieval pilgrimage route, and almost all of them talk about eating this tasty dish for breakfast most days.

This recipe is a compilation of about 5 different ones I found, on the internet in some of my recipe books. I think it is quite authentic.

I like using a cast iron frying pan but a non stick shallow pan would work just as well.

1-3/4 cups olive oil for frying
1-3/4 lb. (about 5 medium) potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, peeled
2-1/4 tsp. coarse salt
12 to 14 oz. onions (2 to 3 medium), diced
5 medium cloves garlic, chopped
6 large eggs
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Slice the potatoes thin, into about 1/8 inch rounds. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle on 2 tsp. of the salt, tossing to distribute it well.

Heat a 10-1/2-inch cast iron frying pan on medium high. Add the oil. When the oil is very hot gently slip the potatoes into the oil with a spatula. Fry the potatoes, turning occasionally (trying not to break them) This can be tricky particularly as they are almost done. Adjust the heat so they sizzle but don't crisp or brown.

When the potatoes are tender, after 10 to 12 min., transfer them to a plate using a spatula. Use paper towel to soak up the excess oil.

Lower the heat a bit then add the onions and garlic to the pan. Fry, stirring occasionally. Cook, until the onions are very soft and translucent but not browned, about 7 to 9 min. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the onions and garlic to the plate with the potatoes. Drain most of the oil from the skillet, reserving at least 1 Tbs. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel so it's clean. Scrape out any stuck-on bits, if necessary.

By now you have beaten the eggs In a large bowl with 1/4 tsp. salt, and the pepper. Add the drained potatoes, onions, and garlic and mix gently to combine with the egg, trying not to break the potatoes.

Re-heat the skillet on medium high. Add the 1 Tbs. reserved oil. Let the pan and oil get quite hot (important so the eggs don't stick), and then pour in the potato and egg mixture, spreading it evenly. Cook for 1 min. and then lower the heat to medium low, cooking until the eggs are completely set at the edges, halfway set in the center, and the tortilla easily slips around in the pan when you give it a shake, 8 to 10 min. You may need to nudge the tortilla loose with a knife or spatula.

Set a flat, rimless plate that's at least as wide as the skillet upside down over the pan. Lift the skillet off the burner and, with one hand against the plate and the other holding the skillet's handle, invert the skillet so the tortilla lands on the plate (it should fall right out).

Set the pan back on the heat and slide the tortilla into it, using the spatula to push any stray potatoes back in under the eggs as the tortilla slides off the plate. Once the tortilla is back in the pan, tuck the edges in and under itself. Cook until a fork inserted into the center comes out clean, hot, and with no uncooked egg on it, perhaps another 5 to 6 min.

Transfer the tortilla to a serving platter and let cool a few minutes. Serve

Can be eaten cold the next day.