Sunday, October 30, 2011

Meringue Ghosts

Tomorrow is Halloween so to celebrate here is a fun little recipe to whip up for the occasion. These little ghosts are dead simple to make and are a real crowd pleaser. All you need are eggs, sugar, chocolate chips & vanilla extract. I use cream of tartar to help the meringue hold, but you can also use cornstarch or a drop of vinegar. Make sure that the bowl you whisk the egg whites in is clean and completely dry, because any moisture in the bowl can lead to the whites separating. It also helps if you let the egg whites get up to room temperature before whipping. These ghosts can be made a day ahead and kept in a cool dry place, but I like them fresh out of the oven, while they are still warm and gooey.

Working time: 15 minutes, cooking time 90 minutes, Serves 8


1/2 cup egg whites (3 large eggs)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 250F
1. Let the egg whites come up to room temperature and then whisk them until the hold soft peaks.
2. Add the vanilla extract and cream of tartar and then slowly incorporate the sugar while whisking. Continue whisking until the meringue hold firm peaks.
3. Use 2 tablespoons to form the meringue into ovals and transfer to a non-stick baking tray or a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. To make the ghostly shape, hold the spoon straight up over the tray and let the meringue slide off.
4. Bake the meringues for 90 minutes.
5. Let the meringues cool for 2 minutes and then poke 2 holes in each and slide in the chocolate chips for the eyes.

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Arancini

I already devoted a week to pumpkin recipes in honor of Thanksgiving and I said that I would end with the pumpkin pie, but it's Halloween tomorrow and I couldn't resist doing one more. Besides being ridiculously tasty, these little pumpkin shaped balls of cheesy risotto are unapologetically cute. If you're having friends over for Halloween, this is a perfect surprise to make for your guests.

Start to finish one hour. Serves 8

1 1/2 cups aborrio rice
1 white onion, finely diced
1L vegetable stock
200g parmesan
2 cups pumpkin puree
3 eggs
100ml milk
200g breadcrumbs (preferable panko)
100g flour

1 bunch chives

1. Sweat the onion in a large pot on medium heat and then add the rice. Add half the stock and cook the rice until all the stock has been absorbed, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining stock and cook until the rice is tender, about 10 minutes.
2. Add the pumpkin puree and parmesan cheese and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer the rice to a baking try and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. When the rice is chilled and set firm, use your hands to roll into 2cm (3/4") balls.
4.  Whisk the eggs with the milk to make an egg wash. Dredge each ball in the flour, then the egg wash, then the breadcrumbs.
5. Heat 2 inches of oil in a pot or a deep fryer to 350F/175C.
6. Working in batches, fry each ball until golden brown
7. Cut the chives into 1/2cm (1/4") pieces. Use a knife to poke a whole in the top of each arancini and then slide in a piece of chive.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mulled Cider

Regular readers of this blog probably know that I like using local ingredients, particularly apples. This week, on a road trip with my girlfriend we stopped at an orchard to go apple picking. We took home 2 bushels and spent the day making different apple recipes. We made apple pie with a buckwheat crust and homemade fruit roll-ups. We also juiced some of the apples in the blender to make some warm mulled cider. It was so delicious that I had to share the recipe here.  

The most essential ingredients in mulled cider are the cloves and cinnamon, but you can experiment by adding other fruit and spices. Try fresh ginger, orange slices or cranberries. Mulled cider is also great spiked with a little booze. Brandy is traditional, but you can also use rum, whiskey or a mix of all three. My new favorite mixer of choice is Zubrowka, a Polish vodka that's infused with bison grass. It has an herbaceous flavor that goes really well with apples.


1L apple cider
3 sticks cinnamon
5 cloves
5 juniper berries
1 apple, sliced
4 oz Zubrowka vodka (optional)

Add all the ingredients together in a large pot and simmer for 10 minutes. serve warm.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pork tenderloin with butternut squash & hazelnuts

This dish looks like something you might pay a lot of money for in a fancy restaurant, but is actually easy to make at home. Also, because none of the ingredients are particularly expensive, you can treat yourself to a luxury meal without splurging on a night out at a high-end restaurant. Butternut squash makes such a delicious purée that you don't need to add anything to it except salt and pepper, but for a richer autumn flavor you can also add the spices that are typically found in pumpkin pie. I use ground nutmeg, ginger, cloves & cinnamon, but you can use any or all of them depending on what your personal tastes are or what you happen to already have in your pantry.

Start to finish, 45 minutes, serves 2


1 pork tenderloin (600g)
200 cups butternut squash, peeled & roughly chopped
1 bag spinach
1 cup toasted hazelnuts
60g butter
olive oil or vegetable oil
salt & pepper
ground nutmeg, ginger, cloves & cinnamon (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F
1. Place the butternut squash in a large pot, cover with salted water and bring to a boil. Simmer until the squash is very tender. It should be very easy to crush with the back of a spoon. For a richer tasting purée use just enough water to cover the squash. It's ok if the squash becomes uncovered as it cooks, but be careful to make sure that the water level doesn't get too low or the squash might burn.
2. As the squash simmers, prepare & cook the tenderloin. Trim the fat and connective tissues off the loin and then season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
3. Heat a small amount of oil in a medium sized frying pan and add the tenderloin. Sear on all sides and then place in the oven at 350F for 8 minutes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.

4. Strain the cooked butternut squash and reserve the water. Place the squash in the blender with 30g butter and 125ml (1/2 cup) cooking liquid. Season with salt & pepper. If desired, season with a pinch or two of any or all of these ground spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger.  

 5. Place the spinach in a large frying pan or pot with  30g butter. Add 125ml (1/2 cup) water and season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Simmer on the stove until the spinach is cooked tender, about 5 minutes. When cooked, drain the spinach and then transfer to paper towels.

To serve:

1. Divide the spinach on 2 plates.
2. Next to the spinach, spoon some butternut squash on each plate and spread the pile with the back of a spoon.
3. Slice the pork tenderloin and place on top of the spinach.
 4. Garnish the plates with toasted hazelnuts.

Quick, totally unnecessary, just-so-it will-look-pretty tip:

To make perfect little spinach rectangles to lay the pork on, drain each portion of spinach on separate pieces of paper towel. Arrange the spinach into a rectangle and then fold the paper towel around it and press down. Unfold the paper towel and transfer the spinach to the plate.  

Besides making the final plate look prettier, another benefit to this technique is that patting each portion dry in a folded towel will get out all of the water and keep it from leaking on the plate.

Friday, October 7, 2011

classic pumpkin pie

       This is my forth and final post for Pumpkin Week at Derek's Kitchen and what better way to end than with dessert! For most people the first thing that comes to mind when you mention pumpkin recipes is pumpkin pie - and with good reason - it's so delicious! Seriously, it is one of my all time favorite desserts. Here in Canada it's thanksgiving on Monday, so it's the perfect time to whip one up. And it's easy to make too. Making the crust is the hardest part, but I promise I wont judge if you buy a frozen crust and then add your own filling. (For an easy simple pie crust recipe see my post for rabbit pot pie) What I do strongly recommend is that you make your own pumpkin purée inside of buying it in a can. Half the fun of this recipe is cutting up the fresh pumpkin and roasting it in the oven. Also, you will probably have left over pumpkin that can be used to make the omelette or soup from my previous posts.

           To roast the pumpkin, first chop it into large rough pieces and then peel and dice it after it comes out of the oven because it's much easier when it is soft and cooked. To make the purée, put the cubes of roasted pumpkin in a blender with a bit of water and a drop of cream. If you do use canned pumpkin purée, make sure to check first it it is seasoned with any spices, because if so you will have to adjust the quantities listed below. Once you have your purée and your crust ready, all that's left to do is mix the ingredients together, pour the filling into the pie shell and  pop it in the oven. About 45 minutes later you will have one of the best treats fall has to offer.

Prep time 10 minutes, Cooking time 45 minutes


    400g      pumpkin purée (2 cups)
    100ml    35% whipping cream
          3      large eggs
      100g     brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
   1   pinch ground cloves    
   1   pinch salt
   1   9"/23cm pie shell

   In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs together and then add the rest of the ingredients. Pour the filling into a 9 inch (23cm) pie crust and bake in the oven until the crust is golden brown and a knife poked in the center comes out mostly clean.

Serve on it's own, with whip cream or maple syrup.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pumpkin Soup

         "Pumpkin Week" continues here at Derek's Kitchen with another quick and easy recipe using roasted pumpkin. The soup is inspired by the squash soup I recently had at Laurence Restaurant in Montreal. I liked the texture of the thick chunks of squash in the rich broth. The bacon and the smoked paprika give the soup a nice earthy, smoky flavor. Once you have your pumpkin roasted and cubed, this soup literally takes minutes to put together. You can sit and relax while the soup simmers away on the stove and fills your home with wonderful fall aromas. Like most soups, this one benefits from a night or two in the fridge to let the flavors marry, so if you are going to be having guests over this Thanksgiving you can make this soup a day ahead and have one less thing to worry about on the big day. For this recipe I recommend going to the butcher to get "slab bacon" (bacon that hasn't already been sliced) so that you can cut it yourself into thick pieces (lardons) but regular bacon will also do just fine.

Prep time 10 minutes, cooking time 30 minutes. Serves 6

 500ml  roasted pumpkin, cubed (2 cups)
 100ml onions, diced (1/2 cup)
     2     cloves garlic, thinly sliced
150g   bacon
     1L   chicken stock
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
1/2 tbs smoked paprika

1.  Cut the bacon into 1/2 cm (1/4") slices. Cut each slice into 1/2cm lardons. Fry the lardons in a 2L sauce pot until golden brown. Add the onions and cook until just starting to color. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Strain and discard excess fat.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and let simmer for 30 minutes. If the soup becomes too thick, add water to thin it out. Season with salt & pepper. Serve right away or keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Roasted Pumpkin & zucchini omelette

This is the second recipe I'm posting as part of what I am now calling "pumpkin week" at Derek's Kitchen. If you make any of the recipes I post this week, chances are you will find yourself with some leftover roasted pumpkin in your fridge. This recipe is a quick and simple way take advantage of them. Also if you have guests in from out of town staying with you this Thanksgiving, this pumpkin omelette can be part of a fun holiday themed brunch. This recipe will yield one omelette big enough for two people. If you are feeding a crowd, double the recipe as necessary, and then to save time cook all the onions and zucchini together. Mix the pre-cooked onions and zucchini with your roasted pumpkin and then make the omelettes one at a time as written here. Alternately, you could add all the eggs and vegetable together for a double or triple recipe into one large greased baking dish and bake it in the oven for about 15 minutes at 350F to make a roasted pumpkin frittata.

Start to finish 10 minutes, serves 2

200ml  roasted pumpkin, peeled & cubed (3/4 cups)
100ml  zucchini, roughly chopped (1/3 cup)
  50ml  onion, finely diced (1/4 cup)
    5     eggs
olive oil, salt & pepper

1. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and sautée the onions and zucchini until softened. Season with salt & pepper.
2. Whisk the eggs until foamy, season with salt & pepper, and then pour into the pan. Add the roasted pumpkin. Let the eggs cook, without stirring, on medium heat. Use a spatula to lift the edges of the omelette up off the side of the pan as it cooks.
3. When the eggs are almost fully cooked, but still just a little bit runny on top, lift one side of the omelette and fold it over the other side.
4. Slide the omelette out of the pan, cut in half and divide on two plates.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

savory roasted pumpkin pie

     Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so to celebrate the season I will be posting four recipes that involve roasted pumpkin. Pumpkins are cheap and plentiful this time of year so it's a good time have a few different ways to take advantage of this great symbol of the fall harvest. You can purchase a large pumpkin, chop it up, roast it and then keep it in your fridge for up to a week to make several different dishes all week long. This first dish solves the problem of what to make for a vegetarian for Thanksgiving. Instead of just letting them make a plate out of all the side dishes that you serve with you turkey, you can make this savory pumpkin pie that will be a hit with both the meat eaters and the vegetarians at the table. You can either make individual tarts for each guest or make one large one for the whole table. If you have time you can make your own pie crust (see my recipe for rabbit pot pie) or you can simply roll out frozen puff pastry from the supermarket or even just use a pre-made frozen pie crust. I love traditional sweet pumpkin pie too (I recently had a great one at Au Pied du Cochon) and I will be posting a recipe for one in the next few days.

Start to finish 1 hour, served 6

 400g   roasted pumpkin, roughly chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic , finely chopped
200g    mixed beans (any canned variety)
100g    potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tbs    worchestershire sauce
100ml  vegetable stock
600g   puff pastry, 6 small pie shells or one large pie shell
100g   toasted hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 425F
1.  To roast your pumpkin, chop it into large chunks and spread them out on a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil & season with salt and pepper. Leave the skin on while roasting, because it will be easier to cut the skin off when the pumpkin ifs soft and cooked. Roast the pumpkin until it is soft enough to cut with a fork with little resistance. Let the roasted pumpkin cool and then peel & dice it.
2. Boil the potatoes until very soft. Strain the potatoes and then gently crush them with a fork to make a chunky mash.
3. Meanwhile, sautée the onions and garlic in olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add the beans, roasted pumpkin, crushed potatoes, vegetable stock and worchestershire sauce. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Fill the pie shell(s) with the filling and bake for 10 -15minutes, until the crust is golden brown If you are using puff pastry of the pie dough recipe from my rabbit pot pie recipe, par bake the dough for 10 minutes before adding the filling. You can make lattices to garnish the tops of the pies after adding the filling, but feel free to omit them and keep the pumpkin pie open-top.
5. Bake the stuffed pies in the oven for ten minutes. To crisp the pastry lattices, turn on the broiler for the last minute. When the pies are ready, sprinkle with crushed hazelnuts and serve with spinach salad.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Salmon Tartare

This dish takes a popular style of sushi, the "California Roll"and re-imagines it as a tartare.  The main ingredients of a California roll are typically crab, avocado & tobiko (flying fish roe). The idea for this dish is also inspired by a tartare that Laurent Tourendel did at a Montreal Highlights Festival event at Globe Restaurant that I was lucky enough to work at. He paired raw tuna with avocado, crispy shallots and an Asian vinaigrette similar to the recipe I use here. To give the dish a Montreal twist, instead of getting my crunch from crispy shallots or ordinary croutons, I use bagel chips. The bagel chips are easy to make and are great just on their own.
              This recipe will take about 30 minutes to put together if you make the bagel chips and the avocado purée, but if you like the sound of it and would like to throw together a faster version, you can simply cut the avocado into cubes instead of making the purée, stir all the ingredients together and serve with your favorite crackers.
Start to finish: 30 minutes, serves 4


600g salmon
2 avocados
1/4 can coconut milk
1  lime
1 shallot, finely diced
1 tbs freshly grated ginger
1 tbs lemon grass, finely diced or pureed (optional)
50ml soy sauce
100ml olive oil
radish sprouts (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Thinly slice the 2 bagels. You can slice them any way you like. I like to slice the bagel both into little circles for mixing into the tartare and longer ones to serve on the side for spreading.
2.Spread the bagel slices on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven until golden brown, about 7 minutes.

3.  Blend the avocado and coconut milk into a purée, then chill while you prepare the other ingredients.
4. To make the vinaigrette, mix the shallots, grated ginger & lemongrass with the soy sauce, lime juice and olive oil.
4. Thinly slice the salmon and then cut each slice into strips. Cut the strips into small cubes. Stir the vinaigrette into the cubed salmon.

To serve:
1. Fill a ring mold 2/3 of the way up with salmon mixture.
2. Fill remaining 1/3 of ring mold with avocado mixture, then flatten with the back of a spoon or an off set spatula.
3. Place one teaspoon of tobiko in the center of the avocdo puree, then remove the ring mold.
4. Garnish with radish sprouts, bagel chips and extra vinaigrette