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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"What's For Dinner?" Wednesday: Filet Mignon with Creamy, Dijon, Peppercorn Sauce

A great way to decide what to make for dinner is by checking out your local grocery store's daily specials and sales. Walking through my local Loblaw's I was very pleasantly suprised to find delicious beef tenderloin steaks, also known as Filet Mignon on sale, I had no choice but to purchase some for dinner. Paired with some mashed potatoes and green beans this is a perfect, restaurant quality steak dinner for two for under $25!!!

Filet Mignon with Creamy, Dijon, Peppercorn Sauce
Serves 2
  • 2 Filet Mignon steaks (about 6 oz./1/4 lb. each)
  • 1 tsp. each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. grainy dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. green peppercorns, drained (can be found in a jar, or can, packed in a vinegar and water mixture)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
1. Season the steaks with the salt and pepper.
2. Heat a skillet over high heat on the stove. Make sure you have your ventilation system working.
3. Add the oil to the pan, then sear the steaks until browned on each side, about 30 seconds a side. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook until desired doneness, about 3 minutes for medium-rare.
4. Remove the steaks to a plate and allow to rest.
5. Into the pan, stir in the Worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, green peppercorns and cream. Cook for 2 minutes, until cream has reduced and peppercorns have heated through.
6. Pour the sauce over the steaks and serve.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"What's For Dinner?" Wednesday: Maple Glazed Salmon with Citrus Dressed Mixed Green and Apple Salad

With the holidays approaching, and lots of delicious, yet heavy dinners in sight, I thought that a nice, light recipe would be perfect for tonight. This is a recipe that I learned in my second year of culinary school. It is simple,delicious, and perfectly light.

Maple Glazed Salmon
Serves 4
  • 4 salmon fillets, skin on
  • 3/4 cup good quality maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • good quality sea salt 
1.Pour the maple syrup into a casserole dish. Place the salmon flesh side down into the maple syrup. Place in the fridge and let marinate for at least an hour.
2. Heat a non stick pan over medium high heat, add the oil and then the salmon, skin side down. Cook until the skin in crispy and the bottom of the flesh is starting to turn pink, about 3-5 minutes. Don't flip the fish, it will cook through without flipping, and flipping will ruin maple glaze. This will make a medium cooked salmon, if you prefer a well done cooked fish, cover the pan and cook for about 2 minutes longer.
3. Remove from the pan, sprinkle with a little sea salt and serve on top of the salad.

Citrus Dressed Mixed Green and Apple Salad
Serves 4
  •  2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 green apple, cut into julienne
  • 1/4 cup sliced red onion
  • 4 cups mixed greens
1. To make the dressing, in a mixing bowl whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, garlic and salt and pepper until combined. Slowly pour in the oil while continuing to whisk until well combined.
2. In a large bowl toss the mixed greens with the apple, onion and dressing.
3. Serve with the salmon.


*Tip: To save time, you can use a store bought salad dressing. If you can't find a citrus based dressing, a simple oil and vinegar will go as well.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Girls Night In

Last night I had some girlfriends over for dinner, for a night of gossip, laughter and fun. Even though we are all Jewish, I decided to get into the holiday spirit and invite them over for a Christmas style cocktail party. No matter what religion you are, there is something in the air this time of year that just makes you want to celebrate and eat great food.

 Here are some pictures of what I served. Feel free to email me for a copy of any of the recipes:

Baked Brie with Cranberry, Red Onion and Orange Compote

Traditional Shrimp Cocktail with Cocktail Sauce

Mini Crab Cakes with Dijon Aioli

Christmas Dinner Bites: Mashed Potatoes, Roast Beef, Gravy and Crispy Onions Served in Wonton Spoons

Mini Stuffing Cakes Topped with Roast Turkey and Cranberry Sauce

Goat Cheese, Roast Figs and Honey Tartlettes

Sweet Potato Mash with Maple Onions and Walnuts

White and Green Asparagus Crudite with Lemon and Garlic Dip

Homemade Dark Chocolate, Candy Cane Ice Cream

Saturday, December 19, 2009

How-to: Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Looks like a delicious ice cream cone, right? WRONG! What would you say if I told you that that cone is filled with chocolate cake, and that "ice cream" is really vanilla icing? I know what I would say; YUM!

Here is how to make these deliciously cute ice cream cone cupcakes:

1. Place flat bottom ice cream cones in a lasagna pan or casserole dish. The raised edges help the cones from falling over.

2. Prepare your favorite cake batter and pour into the cones, only filling the neck of the cones.

3. Place in a 350 degree F oven and bake until a skewer place in the centre of a cone comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

4. Once cooled, spread your favourite icing on each cone to represent the ice cream and then top with your favorite ice cream toppings. Be creative!!!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"What's For Dinner?" Wednesday: Chicken Gyros with Cucumber Dill Tzatziki

This past summer I spent two weeks traveling the Greek Islands with a bunch of girlfriends. The trip was full of sunny, hot days at the beach, eating great food. On a cold, grey, Canadian winter day, like today I wish I can just close my eyes and be back in Santorini, overlooking the beautiful ocean with a nice glass of wine, and a Grecian feast in front of me.....a girl can dream, right? Well instead of day dreaming, tonight I am going to bring Greece to my dinner table. I'm not on vacation anymore, so I'm making a healthier version of the typical meat and French fry stuffed Gyros I ate in Greece. I'm skipping the fries and using lean chicken breasts for the filling. Serve these on their own, or with a simple Greek Salad on the side.

Me and my Greek Gyro

Chicken Gyros with Cucumber Dill Tzatziki
Makes 4 pitas
  • 2 cups plain yogurt (I'm using fat free)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup grated cucumber
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped dill 
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 Greek style pitas
  • sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and onions for stuffing the pitas
1. In a mixing bowl combine 1 cup of the yogurt, 2 cloves of the garlic, 1 Tbsp. of the lemon juice, the oregano and olive oil. Place the chicken breasts in the bowl and stir to cover the chicken. Cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes, for as long as 8 hours.
2. Squeeze the excess water out of the cucumber and place in a small mixing bowl. Stir in the remaining yogurt, garlic and lemon juice as well as the chopped dill. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
3. Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill on an indoor grill, grill pan or bbq until cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for five minutes.
4. While the chicken is resting, wrap the pitas in aluminum foil and place in the pre-heated oven to heat through, about 5-7 minutes.
5. Once the chicken is rested, using a sharp knife, slice into super thin slices.
6. Take a warmed pita, top with some of the tzatziki,  sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and some chicken. roll up and serve.

Friday, December 11, 2009

So Much Funukkah to Celebrate Hanukkah

For the next eight days, Jews around the world will be lighting their menorahs and eating greasy food to celebrate The Festival of Lights aka Hanukkah. Hanukkah is the celebration of a miracle that occurred many, many years ago, where a tiny bit of oil that was only supposed to last for one day, lasted for EIGHT!  So what's a better way to celebrate and symbolize this miracle, then to eat foods fried in oil? Introducing, the potato latke. Every family has their own version, whether the potatoes are shredded, or chopped, or mashed before being fried, but not matter what way you do it, lets face it, can there ever be anything wrong with fried potato? Here is my recipe for potato latkes, my family eats them with apple sauce or sour cream on top, or how my Zaidy used to eat them, sprinkled with some sugar. ENJOY!

Elyse's Potato Latkes
Makes about 18 latkes
  • 2 large, baking potatoes, washed (I keep the peel on, but you can peel them if you want)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 eggs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • vegetable oil for frying
1. Using a hand grater or a food processor, grate the potato and place into a strainer. The size of the grate is completely up to you, I like to grate them fine to medium. Once done, squeeze out any excess water from the potatoes and place in a large mixing bowl.
2. Peel the onion and remove the root, then grate the onion using the same size grate as the potatoes and place into the mixing bowl.
3. Add in the egg, flour and salt and pepper and mix until combined, I find using my hands is the best way.
4. Heat enough oil to come up about an inch high in a large saute pan until hot (place the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil, if bubbles appear along the handle, the oil is ready).
5. Using your hands, form the potato mixture into small, flat rounds and fry on both sides until crisp, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Repeat until all the potato mixture is finished, adding oil to the pan if necessary.
6. Drain the latkes of any excess oil on paper towels and serve.

* Tip: Frying can cause your house to STINK! Placing a couple bowls of white vinegar around your kitchen while cooking will help to absorb the odours. (Thanks Avishai)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"What's For Dinner?" Wednesday: Butternut Squash Ravioli with Maple Brown Butter, Caramelized Onions, Sage and Walnuts

Sounds fancy, huh? This recipe is actually super simple, seasonal and most importantly, DELICIOUS! This dish is a great weeknight, winter meal, that will warm you right up with many seasonal flavours, but it is also great for entertaining. Tonight I'm serving it as an entree with some salad and garlic bread, but it also makes a great appetizer on its own for an upcoming holiday dinner party.

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Maple Brown Butter, Caramelized Onions, Sage and Walnuts
Serves 4 as an entree with a salad

  •  1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped sage
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1 1lb. package of store bought butternut squash ravioli
  • salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil on the stove.
2. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat, once hot add the oil, onions and sage. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are golden and starting to caramelize.
3. Add in the butter and cook until the butter is melted and starts to become a golden brown colour, this will take a few minutes. Once the butter is browned, stir in the maple syrup and walnuts, let cook for another minute then take off the heat and season with salt and pepper.
4. Prepare the pasta according to package directions.
5. Re-heat the sauce over low heat, drain the pasta and toss with the sauce, garnish with some more chopped sage and Parmesan cheese and serve.

Bon Appetit!

* For a change, substitute the ravioli for gnocchi, or even better sweet potato gnocchi

Monday, December 7, 2009

How-to: Quick No Noodle Lasagna

That's right, you read that correctly, lasagna without the noodles!!! This dish is quick, simple and delicious and uses only five ingredients (other than seasoning). I used grilled zucchini and eggplant in place of lasagna noodles and layered them with marinara sauce and cheese for an easy side dish, or light entree.

1. Using a sharp knife or mandolin, thinly slice two zucchinis and one large eggplant lengthwise.

2. Toss the zucchini and eggplant with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and grill on an indoor grill or grill pan, just until light grill lines appear.

3. In a small bowl stir together a container of ricotta cheese with salt and pepper. (I added parsley and some lemon zest too)

4. Once the zucchini and eggplant are cool enough to handle, line the bottom of a greased baking dish with slices of zucchini.


5. Top the zucchini with some marinara sauce and a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese.

6. Top with slices of eggplant. Top the eggplant with some of the ricotta cheese mixture.

7. Repeat the process until the pan is full. Top the top layer with marinara sauce and a sprinkling of mozzarella.

8. Bake in a 400 degree F oven until warmed through and is cheese melted, about 20 minutes.

 9. Cut into slices and serve.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Favorite Products: A Taste of Thai Spicy Peanut Bake

Keeping with the Thai theme from yesterday, I'm going to talk about another favorite product of mine; A Taste of Thai's Spicy Peanut Bake.

Even though I attended culinary school, I am still like everyone else and love a great short cut in the kitchen. The only problem is, I have a picky palate, and some of those sodium and sugar packed products available in the grocery stores just wont cut it. I was very pleasantly surprised when I picked up A Taste of Thai's Spicy Peanut Bake. I checked out the nutritional information and saw that the sodium level was fairly low compared to all the other short cut products on the shelf, I decided to take it home and give it a try. The product works very similar to Shake and Bake. You shake the product onto some chicken breasts and bake it in the oven, it's as simple as that. It provides a nice Thai flavour with a great crunch from the peanuts. Serve it with some rice and some steamed veggies for a quick and delicious meal.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"What's For Dinner?" Wednesday: Thai Red Curry with Shrimp and Pineapple

I am a total take out junkie, and one of my favorite things to order in is Thai food. Unfortunately I can't afford to order in every night, so I am forced to try to recreate some of my favorite take out dishes at home. Whenever I order Thai, there is one item that must be delivered in that large brown paper bag, and that item is red curry. I love the sweet and spicy flavour of red curry, I add pineapples into mine to add a little extra sweetness and a unique texture. This recipe makes a medium spiced curry but you can adjust the amount of curry paste to reach your desired amount of heat. Serve with some steamed white rice.

Thai Red Curry with Shrimp and Pineapple
Serves 2

  • 1 can (398 mL) coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves* (optional)
  • 1 can (227 mL) pineapple tidbits, with juice
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into julienne
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, ends trimmed, and halved
  • 1/2 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp
* Kaffir lime leaves are the leaves of a Thai lime, they are available fresh or frozen at most Asian supermarkets. They add a sweet citrus flavour to dishes, but if they are unavailable they can easily be left out of the recipe.
    1. In a medium sauce pan, heat coconut milk over medium-high heat until heated through, about 5 minutes.
    2. Stir in curry paste, sugar, fish sauce and lime leaves, bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and let simmer until curry paste and sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
    3. Add in the pineapple, red pepper, snap peas and shrimp, cook until shrimp turn pink and are cooked through, about 5 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp.
    4. Remove the kaffir lime leaves and serve.


    Tip: You can substitute thinly sliced chicken or beef for the shrimp, cooking times will vary though.
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