Displaying items by tag: appetizers


The beans and the healthy kale play counterpoint to the richness of the next course.

Servings: Two

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ready In: 25 minutes


4 ounces (125 grams) orecchiette

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons sliced garlic

1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

¼ teaspoon chili flakes

2 cups slivered dinosaur kale (tough mid-rib and stem removed)


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add orecchiette. Boil for 9 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain, reserving some pasta water.Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat and add garlic slivers. Sauté for 1 minute or until lightly golden. Add chickpeas and chili flakes.

Toss together for 1 minute to combine flavours. Add kale and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until kale is just wilted.Toss with pasta, adding a little pasta water (about a half cup) to thin out the sauce slightly.


You’ll want something crisp, light and slightly herbal to engage (if you’ll pardon the proposal pun) this pasta. Think verdicchio or soave from Italy or a sauvignon blanc from anywhere. - Beppi Crosariol

Published in Recipes



This recipe was an instant hit to the taste buds – we all begged for more. Dan Perlman of Casa SaltShaker suggests serving this as an appetizer. One egg per person is sufficient but use two eggs per person if you want to make it a main course. The bottled tomato purée called passata works best.

Servings: Four

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ready In: 1 hour




1 tablespoon butter

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 ounces (100 grams) pancetta

1 cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped celery stalk

1½ cups green lentils

¾ cup tomato purée

4 cups vegetable stock

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

6 cups baby arugula

4 large eggs

Salt and pepper to taste

Maldon salt

2 tablespoons chopped chives



Heat butter and 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add pancetta and sauté for three minutes or until it begins to brown. Add the onion and celery and cook for two minutes or until softened. Add the lentils, the tomato purée, stock and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil then turn heat to medium low and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until lentils are tender and cooking liquid has reduced to a sauce. Add arugula and cook for one minute or until just wilted.

Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium low heat. Add eggs and fry for 1 minute or until whites are set. Cover skillet and continue to fry one to two minutes, or until edges are golden and top of yolks are set with runny insides.

Spoon lentils onto serving dish and top each with 1 fried egg. Sprinkle over Maldon salt and chives.



Argentina’s signature red, malbec, has a gutsy grip to handle the zesty tomato sauce and cured pancetta in the lentil dish. Beppi Crosariol

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A few times a month, Karen Viva-Haynes, a Cordon Bleu trained chef, serves dinner in her catering kitchen. She cooks seasonal, local food with great skill. The night we were there, the conversation flowed among the 14 guests along with the incredible eight courses of food. This is the appetizer she served us.

Alternative ways to serve are in espresso cups as a small first course or piped into split snow peas. Arctic char can be hard to find. Substitute with smoked trout.

Servings: TwelvePrep Time: 10 minutesReady In: 35 minutes



15 ounces (450 grams) cream cheese

2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

9 ounces (270 grams) smoked Arctic char broken up into bite-sized pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup finely chopped pecans or smoked almondsSmoked paprika.



Preheat oven to 375 F. Use a 4-cup oven-proof casserole dish. Blend cream cheese, onion, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce until smoothly combined.Fold in Arctic char and don’t worry if it breaks up into smaller pieces at this point.

Season with salt and pepper and adjust the hot pepper sauce and Worcestershire sauce to taste.Spread this mixture into the casserole dish and top with the chopped pecans and finally sprinkle with smoked paprika.Bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbling.Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with raw vegetables of the season.



Smoked fish in this dish will go well with a fruity-crisp riesling. Beppi Crosariol

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This dish is a composed salad with all the elements served separately. Until you’ve tried pickled fennel you don’t know what you are missing. Leave the fennel in the pickling liquid for up to a week if you’re not using it right away.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 1 hour, including marinating time
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour 30 minutes, including chilling


1 fennel bulb½ teaspoon fennel seeds1 cup water½ cup white wine vinegar¼ cup sugar1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves

½ head escarole lettuce, washed and torn

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 ball buffalo mozzarella, sliced

1 cup pickled fennel

Maldon salt


Remove core from fennel. Slice in quarters, then thinly slice or shave on a mandolin. Place in a bowl.In a medium-sized saucepan, combine fennel seeds, water, white wine vinegar, sugar and salt.

Bring to boil and simmer 2 minutes over medium high heat.Pour over fennel and leave to marinate for 30 minutes or until softened and flavourful. Drain and refrigerate until needed.

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).Toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay skin-side down, on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes or until browned and dried just at the edges. Set aside to cool.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add rosemary and sauté for 30 seconds or until crispy. Drain on paper towels. Set aside.Toss escarole with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide escarole among 4 plates. Lay a few slices of buffalo mozzarella on the side of the plate, along with a small portion of roasted tomatoes and a small heap pickled fennel.

Sprinkle fried rosemary leaves around plates, a little extra virgin olive oil and Maldon salt.


Just about any Italian white would mesh with this salad, but I’d specifically suggest something from the central region of Campania, home of the finest buffalo mozzarella, such as greco di tufo or fiano di Avellino. But if you prefer to go local, a zesty Canadian riesling would harmonize well, too. - Beppi Crosariol

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Toasted cheese sandwiches are a comforting favourite and this take, as a heart-shaped accompaniment to salad, makes a impressive first-course option. Plus, you can make it all ahead of time.

Servings: Two

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ready In: 25 minutes


4 slices white bread

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ cup grated cheddar or other cheese

2 tablespoons grated apple

½ cup sliced radicchio

½ cup sliced Belgian endive

½ cup watercress leaves

½ cup Brussels sprout leaves

Pomegranate seeds


1 tablespoon mayonnaise

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Cut 3 two-inch hearts from each slice of bread (you’ll want 12 hearts total). Butter one side of each heart. Spread Dijon mustard on the non-buttered side. Divide cheese and apples and pile on top of the bread spread with mustard. Cover with second slice, buttered side up.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat and fry sandwiches about 2 to 3 minutes per side using a spatula to compress slightly, or until bread is golden and cheese is melted.

Toss radicchio, Belgian endive, watercress leaves and Brussels sprout leaves in a bowl.

Combine mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice and olive oil with a whisk. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss salad with dressing. Place on two plates and decorate with cheese hearts and pomegranate seeds.


For this “hearty” salad, try Sancerre, the French sauvignon blanc, with enough citrusy zest to tango with the dressing while putting a crisp bite on the cheesy sandwiches. - Beppi Crosariol

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I use canned beans here but you can cook your own. Serve this exceptionally tasty dish with greens. It also makes a good first course.

Servings: Four

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ready In: 45 minutes


3 tablespoons olive oil

2 ounces (60 grams) pancetta, chopped

½ cup chopped onions

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

½ teaspoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoon fresh

1 cup canned tomatoes, crushed

1 540 ml can Romano beans, drained and rinsed

1 pound (500 grams) large shrimps

Salt and freshly ground pepper

½ cup breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

2 tablespoons chopped coriander or parsley

1 tablespoon olive oil


Preheat oven to 400F. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add pancetta, onions and garlic. Sauté for two minutes or until softened.

Add thyme and tomatoes. Turn heat to medium low and simmer gently for 10 minutes, or until thickened and flavourful. Add beans and cook for five minutes more, or until tasty and heated through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Scrape mixture into a gratin dish. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and nestle in bean mixture.

Combine breadcrumbs, garlic, coriander and olive oil in a bowl. Season with salt to taste. Sprinkle on top of shrimp and bake for 12-15 minutes or until crumbs are golden and shrimp are cooked through.

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These sweetbreads have a spicy kick and make the perfect appetizer for ringing in the Year of the Dragon on Monday.

Served this winter by Niagara Street Café's Nick Liu at Toronto's What's On The Table fundraiser, they're crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. If sweetbreads aren't your thing, you can make the recipe with boneless chicken or shelled shrimp, too.


Servings: 4

Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ready In: 1 hour, 45 minutes (plus overnight soaking )




1 pound (500 grams) veal sweetbreads

4 cups chicken stock

¼ cup white wine

1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons garlic, sliced

1-inch piece ginger, sliced

2-inch stick cinnamon

2 star anise

1 cup cornstarch for coating

Vegetable oil for deep-frying

Master stock

¼ cup Chinese cooking wine or sherry

¼ cup oyster sauce

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar


Finishing sauce

¼ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup master stock (see above)

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar

1½ teaspoons ginger, minced

1½ teaspoons garlic, minced

½ teaspoon red chili, deseeded and chopped



1 red chili, seeded and sliced

¼ cup coriander sprigs



Place sweetbreads in a bowl and soak in cold water overnight. (If substituting chicken or shrimp, skip the master stock. Instead, add ½ cup chicken stock to the finishing sauce, then follow directions below for frying.) Mix stock, wine, vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaf, garlic, ginger, cinnamon and star anise in a pot and bring to a boil.

Remove sweetbreads from water and transfer them into the flavoured stock.

Bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until they firm up slightly. Remove from heat and let cool in cooking liquid for 1 hour. Remove sweetbreads and, with a small, sharp knife, carefully peel off and discard the membrane. Break or cut up sweetbreads into 2-inch nuggets and reserve.

Place cooking liquid back on heat and add all the master-stock ingredients.

Bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes or until flavours are combined. Strain master stock. (Leftover stock can be used for cooking chicken, pork or fish for another dish.) Combine brown sugar with 2 teaspoons of water in a skillet and cook, stirring, over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until sugar has liquefied and begun to caramelize. Carefully add ½ cup master stock and cook, stirring, until fully absorbed. Stir in fish sauce, white wine vinegar, ginger, garlic and chili. Simmer for 2 minutes or until sauce coats the back of a spoon.

Season the sweetbread nuggets with salt and pepper and coat with cornstarch. Heat 3 inches of oil in a wok or deep pot.

Fry nuggets until crisp and golden (about 3 to 5 minutes). Drain on paper towel.

Place sweetbreads in a bowl and coat with sauce.

Garnish with chili and coriander sprigs. Serve as an appetizer.

Published in Recipes


Published in Recipes


This flat flavourful soufflé is rolled like a jelly roll. It looks impressive yet never fails, thanks to the extra flour folded in at the end. Make the day before to allow the flavours to mellow and to make cutting easier. Fillings can be varied; salmon, dill and cream cheese is another winner. Serve with pea shoots or other sprouts for garnish.

Servings: 12


Ready In: 4 hours, including cooling time



¼ cup butter

½ cup flour

1¼ cups milk

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 egg yolks

5 egg whites



⅔ cup ricotta cheese

½ cup yogurt

¼ cup whipping cream

1 cup grated ricotta salata or pecorino

3 ounces (90 g) prosciutto, chopped

1 cup arugula

Salt to taste

½ cup basil or arugula pesto


Preheat oven to 375 F.

Line an 11 x 17-inch (3 L) jelly roll pan with parchment paper.

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in ¼ cup flour. Return to heat and cook for one minute. Slowly whisk in milk. Bring to boil, stirring. Remove from heat and season well with salt and pepper. Beat in egg yolks.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Sift remaining flour over egg yolk mixture. Quickly fold egg whites into egg yolk mixture, incorporating the flour. Pour into prepared jelly roll pan and smooth top.

Bake at 375 F for 20 to 22 minutes or until golden and firm. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Turn out onto clean tea towel lined with parchment paper. Carefully roll up in tea towel and let cool.



Beat together ricotta cheese, yogurt, whipping cream, ricotta salata, prosciutto, and arugula, or place in food processor, and combine until still chunky. Season with salt to taste. Mixture should be soft and spreadable.


To Assemble:

Unroll savoury roll. Spread pesto evenly over it. Spread filling evenly over the pesto. Roll up from the short edge. Place seam side down on platter. Chill for 2 hours or overnight. Slice into ¼-inch thick slices. Arrange on platter.

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Smoking is a hot trend in restaurants. It's not just smoked meat: Vegetables, fish, cheese and fruit are all under the smoking gun. Here, I've used smoked cheese, but if you prefer not to use the smoked variety, substitute with grated fontina or cheddar. Serve with sprouts.

Servings: 8 to 10


Ready In: 55 minutes


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup red pepper, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon ginger, chopped

2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white part only

1 cup zucchini, thinly sliced

1 cup fennel, thinly sliced

6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons mint, chopped

1½ cups smoked mozzarella, grated

½ pound (250 g) frozen puff pastry, defrosted

1 egg, beaten


Preheat oven to 400 F. Heat olive oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Add red pepper and sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, leeks, zucchini, fennel and mushrooms. Sauté until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and remove from heat. Let cool 5 minutes. Stir in mint and cheese. Let cool completely.

Roll out pastry to a 10 x 12-inch rectangle. Pile vegetables along upper third of pastry lengthwise leaving a 1-inch wide border on short sides. Brush all sides with beaten egg. Fold short ends up over filling then roll from the long edge into cylinder cutting off pastry excess. Place seam side down on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush with egg. Use a sharp knife to cut four slashes along top of strudel.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Cool to room temperature before slicing.

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