Monday, February 20, 2012


 As a proud Quebecer, born and raised, I love Quebecois cuisine. It's mostly hearty, farmer style food, which I love eating. There is also a lot of game used in Quebecois cooking, which I love. Very soon it's going to be maple syrup season and to me the food found at a cabane á sucre is the epitome of Quebecois cooking. That's why I thought this would be a good time to post a recipe for that sugar shack staple: tourtière.
        A while back a reader wrote in to ask me if I could do a recipe for six-pâtes (also know as "cipaille.") Six-pâtes is another traditional Quebecois meat pie, made from up to 6 different varieties of game meat, each separate by a layer of pastry.  Unlike tourtière, in a six-pâtes the meat is cubed instead of ground and so must be slow cooked for hours. I do love cooking with game meats, like duck and venison and rabbit, so the idea of six different varieties in one meat pie does sound pretty amazing. I knew that I had to take on the challenge and make a six-pâtes, but I knew it was going to be a daunting endeavor. So as a sort of practice run, I decided to make a good old, simple tourtière.
               For my tourtière I used three different types of ground meat - pork, veal & beef, but you can use just one if you like. You can also add mushroom, celery and potatoes to filling, but here I am just using onions and garlic. The key to a good tourtière is in the seasoning. I like it with a good strong hint of cloves, as well as some cinnamon & savory. For the dough, you can use the pie crust recipe from my rabbit pot pie or you can save some time and go with the store bought variety.

prep time 30 minutes, cook time 1 1/2 hours


300g (2/3 lbs) ground pork
300g (2/3 lbs) ground veal
300g (2/3 lbs) ground beef
50g (1 3/4 oz) butter
300ml chicken stock
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried savory
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt

10" double pastry

1 egg yolk
120ml (1/2 cup) cream or milk for brushing the crust.

Preheat the oven to 375F
1. Melt the butter in a large pot and then add the onions and garlic. Sautée on medium-high heat until the onions are translucent and then add the ground meat. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat is completely browned. Add the spices and chicken stock and let simmer for 20 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.

2. Roll out the bottom crust and then line a 9" baking pan. Spoon in the filling and the spread it evenly
3. Roll out the top crust and then cut 5 vents to allow the steam to escape. Take the pieces of pastry that you cut out and use them to make decorative leaves to place on top of the crust.

4. Lay the top crust down and then use a fork to seal the edges. Trim of excess dough. Combine the egg yolk and cream or milk and then brush the surface of the crust. Add the decorative leaves and then brush with the egg wash. Bake in the oven at 375F until golden brown, about 1 hour.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Eggs Benedict Spaghetti
    I recently wrote a recipe for the site  It's a cool site that has all sorts of how-to guides on everything from how to build an electric guitar to how to build a robot! The site also has a section devoted to food with tons of easy to follow, step-by-step recipes. 

       I got the idea for this recipe when I was thinking out how I could jazz up one of my favorite pasta dishes: spaghetti carbonara. Since carbonara is made with bacon and eggs, I thought it would be fun to make a version based around the breakfast classic Eggs Benedict. I love Eggs Benedict and this is basically just an excuse to have it for dinner. Find the recipe here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Raspberry Mousse

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                 In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm posting the recipe for this cute little dessert. Usually I like to assure people that the recipes I post are easier than they look, but I'm afraid I can't say that about this one. There are definitely easier ways to make a raspberry mousse than the recipe I'm giving here, but I just love the texture of this one so much that I felt I had to share it. I figured that nothing says "I love you" like putting in a little time and effort into making something nice for your sweetheart, so I might as well go ahead post something a little challenging.
       Last year I wanted to put raspberry mousse on the menu for Valentine's Day at the restaurant, so that week I experimented with a few different methods. I found the best texture came from a mix of whipped cream and meringue, set with a small amount of gelatin. I played with the ratios until I got just the texture I was looking for. This mousse is rich & creamy, yet still light & airy. Also, it holds its shape well and looks great on the plate. A big chocolate heart made of dusted cocoa powder helps raise the "Awwwwwww" factor.
     Because the mousse has a fluffy, almost marshmallow like texture, I serve it with a few homemade marshmallows on the side. Since the two recipes use similar ingredients and equipment, I find that if you are going to make one, you might as well make the other. The mousse keeps for up to 5 days in the fridge, so you can make this a couple days ahead of time and then enjoy some leftovers later.

Prep time 45 minutes, Cook time 15 minutes. Rest time 3 hours.
 Serves 4


2 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup + 2 tbs sugar
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
1 cup 35% whipping cream
3 pinches salt
1 1/2 tbs powdered gelatin

graham crust:
1 1/4 cups graham crumbs
1/4 cup butter
2 tbs water

cocoa powder for dusting
homemade marshmallows

1. Put the raspberries in a small pot with 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of water & a pinch of salt. Gently simmer for 10 minutes and then push through a strainer to remove the seeds. Set aside raspberry syrup until needed.

2. In a clean, dry mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add 1/2 cup sugar, 1 pinch salt and continue whisking until stiff peaks form. To help stabilize the meringue, add 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional). Set aside the meringue and use the electric mixer to whisk the whipping cream with 2 tbs sugar & 1 pinch salt, until it holds stiff peaks. Fold the meringue into the whipped cream.

3. Mix 1 1/2 tbs gelatin with 1/4 cup water and let it rest for 5 minutes to allow the gelatin to bloom. Gently heat the raspberry syrup and then add the gelatin. Stir the syrup thoroughly to fully incorporate the gelatin. Fold the raspberry syrup into the egg whites and cream. Make sure that the syrup is mixed in well, but be careful not to overwork the mousse so that it stays light and airy.
4. Pour the mix into a greased mould and let set in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Your can use individual moulds, or one large one and then cut the mousse into portions after it has set. I find that small plastic cups work perfectly as moulds. After the mousse has set, you can you a pair of scissors to cut down the side of the cup to easily remove the mousse.
5. While the mousse is setting, make the graham cracker crust. Melt the butter and then mix it with the graham crackers and 2 tbs water. Press into a aluminum baking tray and then bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Allow to cool and then use a knife or cookie cutter to cut 2" diameter bases to rest the mousse on.

To Serve:
1. Cut a heart shape out of the center of a piece of paper and then lay the paper down over a plate. Put 4 tbs cocoa powder in a strainer and then dust the plate with the cocoa. Carefully remove the paper and then repeat for the other plates.
2. Place the graham crust in the center of the heart and then place the mousse on top of the crust. Garnish the mousse with fresh raspberries and homemade marshmallows.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Homemade marshmallow recipe

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  Once you try making your own homemade marshmallows I promise you will never go for the store bought variety again. These perfect little clouds are springy and chewy, melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The flavour of homemade marshmallow is so much better than the packaged variety. The big difference is in the vanilla used to flavor them. Most store bought marshmallows are made with artificial vanilla flavor which is actually made from a by-product of the paper making process! So it's no wonder that next to the homemade variety, made with real vanilla extract, commercial marshmallows taste like chewing on a piece of printer paper. For an extra luxurious, authentic vanilla flavour, try using fresh vanilla instead of vanilla extract. One bean is enough to replace the extract in this recipe. 
              Though I admit it can be a bit tricky getting it right on your first try, making your own marshmallows is easier than you might imagine. Once you get the hang of it, you can start experimenting with different flavours. You can replace the vanilla with almond or mint extract, or you can try dusting them in cocoa powder. For extra fluffy marshmallows, whisk 2 egg whites until they hold stiff peaks and fold them into the whipped sugar mix. 

Prep time 30 minutes. Rest time 3 hours.

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup 
3 tbs powdered gelatin 
1 cup cold water
2 pinches salt 

1 cup powdered sugar (for dusting)

1. Place 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of your electric mixer and add the gelatin. Leave it to rest to allow the gelatin to bloom.

2. In a small pot with a candy thermometer, combine the syrup, sugar & 1/2 cup cold water. Bring to a boil and then let simmer, without stirring, until the temperature reaches the "soft ball"stage: 115C / 240F.

3. Allow the syrup to cool for 2 minutes, then start whisking the gelatin mixture and slowly add the warm syrup. The mixture should turn white and fluff up until it holds stiff peaks. Add the vanilla and 2 pinches of salt.  

*At this point, for extra soft marshmallows, you can fold in egg whites that have been beaten into stiff peaks (optional).   

4. Line a baking dish or plastic container with plastic wrap and then  lightly coat the inside with oil.
5. Pour in the marshmallow mix and spread it with a spatula. Work quickly because the mix will stiffen as it cools. Leave the marshmallow to set for at least 3 hours in a cool dry place.

6. Dust a cutting board with powdered sugar, set your giant marshmallow down and cut it into squares. Put 1 cup of powdered sugar in a mixing bowl or plastic container and toss the marshmallows in the sugar until they are evenly coated.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Baked Cod in Wasabi Crust

Valentine's Day is fast approaching and if you're looking for something fancy to make for your special someone, this recipe is for you. You could go out to a restaurant and deal with the crowds and spend a lot of money, but I think it shows more thought and care to make something nice at home. So buy a bottle of your loved one's favorite white wine, light some candles and turn your own home into a fine dining restaurant for the night.
      To make the crust I use crushed wasabi peas and panko. Wasabi peas and panko (japanese breadcrumbs) can be found at Asian markets or in the Asian section of most large grocery stores. The wasabi peas give the crust an extra bit of crunch as well as a little spicy kick. The braised fennel from my last post is the perfect accompaniment for the fish. A garnish of grapefruit supremes brings some vibrance to the dish and ties all the flavors together nicely. The green lentils are optional, but I find they brings a nice flavor and texture to the dish.

Prep time 20 mintes, cooking time, 15 minutes. Serves 2


 2 225g (1/2lbs) filets of cod
1 cup wasabi peas
1 cup panko
1 cup flour
1 egg
175 ml (3/4 cup) milk
3/4 cup dried green lentils, soaked overnight (optional)
1 pink grapefruit

braised fennel

Preheat the oven to 350F / 175 C

1. Rinse the lentils and then put them in a pot with 1L (2pt) salted water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until soft, but still al-dente, about 15 minutes.
2. Crush the wasabi peas by pulsing them in a blender or food processor. Combine with the panko and then spread the mix out on a plate. Spread the flour on a second plate. Whisk the egg with the milk in a wide bowl or shallow pan. Dredge the fish in the flour, followed by the egg wash, and then finally the wasabi crust.
3. Place the breaded fillets on a lightly oil baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350F until the fish starts to flank apart with a gentle squeeze, about 15 to 20 minutes. 
4. Use a knife to remove the grapefruit peel, exposing the flesh. Cut along each of the ribs to make supremes. 

To serve: Place 3 or 4 pieces of braised fennel in the center of each plate. Spoon some green lentils over the fennel. Place the baked cod in the center. Drizzle a little olive oil around the plate and garnish with grapefruit supremes. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Braised Fennel

Fennel is a wonderful ingredient to work with because it's very versatile. In the summer I like to eat it raw, thinly shaved and mixed into salads. In the winter I like making braised fennel. Searing the fennel gives it a rich caramelized flavor and after a gentle simmer, the fennel takes on nice melting texture. Braised fennel goes well with veal, pork or chicken, but I like it best with fish. In my next post I'll show you a recipe for baked cod in a wasabi crust that is perfect for serving with braised fennel. Traditionally fennel is braised in white wine and lemon juice, but for a fun twist I like using rosé wine and pink grapefruits

Prep time 10 minutes, cooking time 15 minutes. Makes 4 side dishes


1 large bulb of fennel or 2 small bulbs, green stocks removed
125 ml rosé wine
1 pink grapefruit, juiced
2 tbs vegetable oil
salt & pepper

1. Cut the fennel in 4-6 large wedges. Heat small amount of vegetable oil in a frying pan and add the fennel. Sear each side until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.

2. Put the fennel in a pot with the wine and grapefruit juice. Add 125 ml (about 1/2 cup) water. Bring to a gentle boil, cover & let simmer for 15 minutes.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

braised lamb

      On a cold February night, I, like most people, often crave a big dish of meat & potatoes. I guess the cold weather brings out the inner caveman in me. Braised lamb shank is the perfect comfort food for times like this. There is nothing fussy about it - cooked and served on the bone with some simple roasted potatoes. Once cooked, the meat freezes well when taken off the bone and stored in an airtight container with the cooking liquid. You can braise a large batch and then enjoy the leftovers in soups, meat pies or pasta. I used my leftovers to make an amazing braised lamb tagliatelle, inspired by a dish my girlfriend and I enjoyed at fellow Top Chef Canada alumni Dusty Gallagher's restaurant Grace, in Toronto.  
     The technique used here is nearly identical to the one used in the braised beef recipe I posted a while back. The only difference is that with the lamb I throw in a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. Braising is a technique that is well worth mastering because it works well with many different cuts of meat. It's great for cooking a luxury cut like lamb shank to melting perfection, but you can also braise cheaper cuts like blade roast for a rich and satisfying winter meal. There are also plenty of vegetables that lend themselves well to braising, as I'll show you next week with my recipe for braised fennel.

Prep time 30 mintes. Cooking time 8hrs


2 lamb shanks
2 onions, cut in half
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
1 head garlic, cut in half
500 ml red wine
1/2 bunch rosemary
1 tbs cornstarch
vegetable oil, salt & pepper

roasted potatoes

preheat the oven to 450F
1. Place the vegetables on a baking tray, drizzle with vegetable oil and roast in the oven at 450F until browned, about 15 minutes.
2. Season the lamb with salt & pepper. Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a large frying pan and sear the lamb shanks on all sides. Place the shanks in a large pot with the roasted vegetables, wine and rosemary. Add water until the lamb is fully covered and then cover the pot with a lid.  Lower the oven to 250F and cook the lamb for 8hrs.
3. Remove the lamb from the pot and strain the cooking liquid. Reduce the cookiong liquid down to 500ml (2 cups) Mix 1tbs cornstarch with 2 tbs cold water and stir to make a slurry. Add the cornstarch while whisking constantly and let simmer until the sauce has thickened. Return the lamb to the pot and glaze with the sauce. Serve with roasted potatoes.