" I truly think it is best to be a robin lightly dressed concocting soup inside my nest" ~Maurice Sendak

Host with the Most

If you are hosting this  holiday season  it is good to have a few recipes on hand that you can put together quickly so that you have more time to enjoy your guests. 
 
This is an easy brunch dish that takes minutes to assemble yet looks like it took hours to prepare. 
The ingredients can be varied, such as substituting the crab for smoked salmon or cooked baby shrimp.
This serves 4 to 6. The recipe can be doubled if you have a crowd.
Serve with a crisp green salad and warm baguette. 



Crab Brunch Bake


  • 2 cans of crab meat drained
  • 2 cups of large croutons
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of shredded old Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 each diced onion and red pepper
  • 1 tsp each of savory, parsley and thyme
  • butter for greasing the pan
Preheat oven to 375F
Grease an 8x8 baking dish with the softened butter.
Arrange croutons on the bottom of the dish.
Arrange crab on top of the croutons.
In a bowl beat the eggs with the milk then combine with spices and vegetables.
Pour over the croutons and crab. Sprinkle cheeses over top.
Bake for about 30 minutes until eggs are set and cheese is bubbly.
Slice into squares and serve.

Wine Suggestion: Champagne 

Cheers!





Impress

Another long weekend is approaching and with it comes family gatherings and dinner parties.

This dish is sure to impress. It looks more complicated then at really is.
I have served it twice now and it has drawn rave reviews every time. 
You can vary the vegetable you mix with the cream cheese. I used chopped baby spinach here but mushrooms, roasted peppers or dill work well too.
Puff pastry is a great item to keep on hand in the freezer. It transforms anything into something truly elegant.
This dish can be served with just about anything on the side, salad, rice, risotto, potatoes, roasted vegetables ect. 
Just remember to sit back and enjoy those compliments.

Happy Thanksgiving and long weekend everyone!


Salmon Wellington


  • 1 pkg of frozen puff pastry thawed
  • 1 l to 1.5 pound salmon filet skinned
  • 1 tub of plain cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup of either chopped spinach, mushrooms , roasted peppers or 1 tbs dill
  • 1 egg beaten 
 Preheat oven to 400F
 Roll the pastry out on a floured surface so that it is a little wider than the salmon, and the salmon can be completely rolled in the pastry.
 Mix the cream cheese and vegetable of choice  together in a bowl. Season with salt and  ground black pepper.
Place the salmon in the center of the pastry. Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the salmon.
Roll the pastry around the salmon leaving a slight overlap of about an inch. Seal up the ends. Place on an oiled cookie sheet.

Brush the outside of the pastry with beaten egg and place in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until golden-brown and the fish is cooked through.

Slice and serve.

Wine Suggestion: Pinot

Cheers! 



Back at It

Another summer has come and gone. Where does the time go?
Seems like yesterday my daughters were just finishing exams and now they are back at it again.

When teenagers come home from school they are hungry. It is all to easy to crack open a bag of store bought snacks laden with sodium and preservatives.  We recently discovered how to make your own potato chips in minutes. I whipped up a dip while the chips were cooking . They were a huge hit and we agreed they are tastier, cheaper and healthier than store bought chips and dip. We used the microwave but I plan on trying the oven next time.

"Chips and Dip"

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

With a mandolin thinly slice the potatoes.
Place on a microwave safe plate and brush with olive oil on both sides.
Microwave on high for 6 minutes or until crispy and golden.
Place in a bowl and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.


Dip

1/2  tub of sour cream
1 tsp each (or to taste) of dill, onion powder,  seasoning salt, parsley and pepper
Combine in a dish and serve with the chips.

Cheers!








Making Do

Its been a very busy summer around our house. Between some minor house projects and traveling I haven't had the time to post anything new. To be honest I really haven't been cooking anything exciting...just kinda throwing stuff on the BBQ and tossing up a salad. 

We rented a cottage up north for a week. While we had some nice days to be out on the lake we also had lots of rainy days that sent us packing a day early.
I hadn't planned a lot of indoor meals that week as I thought the weather was going to remain dry and warm and the cottage had a great grill on the deck overlooking the lake. Well after two rainy days ( and I mean heavy downpour rain with winds!) by the third I was going to have to be creative and find a way to prepare the pork chops I bought for grilling outside in the cottage. I didn't have very much in the way of spices with me so I made do with what we had left.  I came up with a spicy sauce made from a can of beans and a few things in the fridge. We really liked how it turned out and will definitely make it again.

Cottage Pork Chops

  • 4 boneless pork loin chops
  • 1 can of brown beans
  • 1/2 each green pepper and onion diced
  • 1/2 a bottle of original bbq sauce
  • 1tbs Tex Mex Seasoning
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325F
Combine all ingredients except pork chops in a 9 x 11 baking dish.
Nestle the pork chops in the sauce and spoon some over top.
Bake in the oven for 1 hour.
Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.

Wine Suggestion: Riesling

Cheers!


Fresh

We all love to cook in our house. 
Every once in a while we haul out our pasta maker which was a wedding shower gift many years ago and get to work creating an authentic Italian dinner.
Everyone pitches in creating the long sheets of pasta and preparing a delicious sauce.
The last time we did this we made a stuffed ravioli.
It sounds labor intensive but well worth the effort.
Here is how we put it all together. ( The pasta recipe is from Ricardo Larrivee on Food Network Canada)

Stuffed Fresh Ravioli with Capriccio  Sausage Sauce

Pasta

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups pf flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

 Place the flour on a flat surface. Make a well in the centre. Break the eggs into the well and add the oil. Using a fork, lightly beat the eggs and oil, gradually mixing them with the flour. When the dough becomes too thick to work with the fork, continue with your fingertips and then your hands. Do not use too much flour. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes. The dough will become smooth and elastic. If the dough is sticky, dust it lightly with flour and continue kneading. Let stand for 30 minutes before rolling.  If you have a pasta machine, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for rolling and cutting.

Filling

  • 2 cups of baby spinach leaves
  • 4 large mushrooms diced
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • salt and pepper
 In a skillet heat a bit of olive oil and add garlic, mushrooms and spinach. Cook until all is wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside

Sauce

  • 1 jar of tomato puree
  • 1/2  can of diced tomatoes
  • oregano and basil to taste
  • 1 diced capricccio sausage.
Combine all in saucepan and heat slowly. Let simmer while preparing pasta and filling.

Assembly

As shown in the photos, lay out the sheets of pasta.  Place the filling on the one side pasta spaced evenly apart . Add a mozzarella cube on top if you wish. Dip your finger in water and run around each filling. Fold over the other half. Press to seal each section.
Cut with a zigzag cutter into squares.



Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta for two minutes or until they float to the top. Lift out with a slotted spoon and serve with the sauce over top.




Wine Suggestion: Sangiovese

Cheers!

Ham It Up

I love Easter because for me it means Spring has finally arrived.
Although I have had turkey and roasts on Easter to me this holiday is all about ham.
You can use whatever ham you like here, bone in, boneless, precooked or not. Just follow the instructions on the wrapper for cooking instructions.
I used an uncooked bone in ham here. I created a delicious glaze from ingredients I had on hand including some sherry I had to use up.
Nothing goes better with ham then scalloped potatoes or potato gratin if you add cheese.
A Mandoline makes slicing the potatoes and onions thin super easy. Just remember to use the safety holder between you and the vegetable!

Happy Easter!




Roast Ham with a Brown Sugar Sherry Glaze with Potato Gratin

  • 3 to 6 pound bone in ham
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon
  • 1/2 cup of sherry
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup of apple juice

Preheat oven to 350 F
Place ham in roasting pan and place in the oven.
In a sauce pan combine the rest of the above ingredients. Heat over medium heat until thickened.
During the last half hour brush the ham periodically with the glaze.
Cook until internal temperature reached 160F.
Slice and serve with Potato Gratin.

Potato Gratin

  • 2 pounds of potatoes sliced thin.
  • 2 onions sliced thin
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of cream
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350F.
Wash and slice potatoes as thin as possible.
Slice onions thinly as well.
In a saucepan heat the oil. Add the flour to make a smooth roux.
Add the cream and milk while  whisking until you have a creamy sauce.
Add the garlic and salt and pepper.
Rub a casserole dish with softened butter.
Layer the potatoes and onions.
Pour the sauce over top.
season with parsley and salt and pepper and add cheese over top.
Bake in the oven until bubbly and golden (about an hour)


Wine Suggestion: Riesling

Cheers!



Rehash

St. Patrick's Day is on the weekend as I am sure you already know.
I know a lot of you will be making corned beef dinners and the like.
For those of you that don't have hours to make a large Irish dinner this  is a quick way to get your corned beef fix this weekend.

Corned beef hash can be served for any meal of the day, breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. It is easy to prepare and is limitless in variations. It is a great way to use up leftovers as well. 

Hash was created during the war when rationing of food was in place. It was a cheap way to get a bit of meat into the diet and still be a satisfying meal.

So whatever you are serving this weekend... Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

Corned Beef Hash

  • ~oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 diced red pepper
  • 1 can of corned beef flaked 
  • 1/2 a package of frozen hash browns or a cup of cooked leftover cubed potatoes
  •  2 tbsp parsley
  • 3 eggs scrambled
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet heat some oil and add the onions and peppers. Cook until softened
Add the meat and potatoes and parsley. Cook until potatoes are golden and it is all heated through.

Scramble the eggs in a bowl.
Move the hash to one side of the pan.
Add the eggs and cook until done then combine with the hash.
Serve with ketchup or chili sauce.

Beverage Suggestion: Guinness Beer

Cheers!




Soup's On!

It has been such a mild winter I haven't made nearly as much soup as I normally do. The other day I was thinking I miss a hearty bowl of soup, so I pulled out my soup pot and got to work.

I chose to make an Italian Minestrone, something I haven't made before.
It is a thick hearty stew like soup made with vegetables, pasta and beans. It is as common on tables in Italy as pasta.
You can add ground beef or sliced sausages if you like. I just used a bit of Italian salami for flavor. The cheese rind is what is leftover when you get down to the end of the Parmesan cheese. It gives soups extra flavor as it melts during cooking.

This makes a great weekday supper, all you need is a slice of bread and your meal is complete.

Italian Minestrone Soup


  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 celery ribs diced
  • 3 carrots sliced
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup of diced Italian salami such as Sopressata
  • 1 tbsp each of basil and oregano
  • 1 can of white kidney beans drained
  • 1 can of chick peas drained
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 1 cup  of small pasta of choice ( I used bows)
  • 1 Parmesan cheese rind
  • 1 900 ml carton of chicken broth
  • grated Parmesan for garnish
 In the soup pot add the olive oil and heat over medium heat.
Add the onion, garlic and celery.  Cook until softened.
Add the meat, oregano and basil. Combine and cook for about 3 minutes.
Add the beans, tomatoes, pasta, cheese rind and broth.
Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer for about and hour to an hour and a half.
Season to taste. 
Ladle into bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Wine Suggestion: Traminer

Cheers!




 

Vote

I have entered a recipe contest here in London..I submitted four recipes and they selected one for the top 10.
The 3 that gets the most votes will cook off for judges in February.
Go here to vote
Thanks so much for your support.
This is what I win..
The Recipe for Hope Contest  is a chance to share your recipes and showcase the best of the best for bragging rights, fabulous prizes and a chance to meet world renowned Chef Michael Smith!  From the Top 10, 3 finalists will be selected to have a cook-off for the judges at GCW Custom Kitchens.
Dave & Rachel will crown the winner the morning of February 27th!


Thanks so much and pass on to friends if you wish..
Robyn

The Rain in Spain...

According to the calendar it's Winter.
However as I look out the window it looks like Spring..all the snow has melted and it is mild and pouring rain, but tomorrow they are forecasting snow again?
Weird weather....

Whatever it is doing outside this is still the time of year I turn to the oven to create warm  dishes to soothe away the damp chill.
This is a twist on the traditional dish Swiss Steak. I've given it a Spanish flair by adding olives, capers and lots of herbs.
Capers are found in the condiment section of the grocery store near the pickles. They are the bud of a plant found in the Mediterranean and they are salty like  olives.

 Whatever kind of Winter we are having, enjoy the comfort food that comes along with it!


Spanish Style Smothered Steak


  • ~olive oil
  • approx 2 pounds of steak (inside or outside round work well)
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 can of stewed tomatoes
  • 1 cup of green olives
  • 1/4 cup of capers
  • 1/2 cup of red wine
  • 1 tbsp of oregano
  • 1 tbsp of basil
  • flour for dredging 
 Preheat oven to  350F
Generously sprinkle flour on a shallow plate and dredge to coat all sides of the steak.
Heat oil in a deep oven proof dutch oven or deep pan with a lid.
Brown the steak on both sides in the oil over medium heat on stove top.
Add remaining ingredients over top and toss a bit to mix together.
Cover and place in the oven. 
Cook for 1 to 2 hours depending on the cut of steak and desired tenderness.
Remove cover for last 15 minutes to allow sauce to thicken a bit.

Serve alongside mashed potatoes or rice.

Cheers!