Displaying items by tag: appetizers


This can be made as one large tart or as individual portions. I prefer to make small tarts as they are easier to pick up to eat, but as a first course a larger one looks spectacular. This recipe doubles easily. A watercress garnish adds a nice flourish.

Servings: 14


Ready In: 2 hours, 30 minutes



3 ounces (90 g) unsalted butter, cut in chunks

3 ounces (90 g) goat cheese, cut in chunks

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

Caramelized Onions

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large Spanish onion, thinly sliced

½ teaspoon salt



1 egg

½ cup whipping cream

6 black olives, coarsely chopped (about a ¼ cup)

1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon cracked fennel seed



3 leaves basil, finely sliced


Combine butter, cheese and salt in a food processor. Sprinkle in flour. Pulse to combine.

Remove pastry from food processor and gently knead together. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion, sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 45 minutes, or until golden.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Roll out pastry to a ⅛-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch cutter, cut rounds and fit into mini muffin or tartlet cups, or place in a 9-inch false bottom tart pan. Set aside.

Whisk together egg and whipping cream. Combine caramelized onions, olives, Herbes de Provence, balsamic vinegar, cheese, cracked fennel and cream mixture. Place in tarts. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden. Garnish with basil.

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Mushrooms and squash have a real affinity and this soup proves it. I like to use oyster mushrooms, but chanterelles, which I found at the supermarket this week, provide the best flavour.

Servings: 6

Ready In: 1 hour 10 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 butternut squash cut in half, about 2 pounds (1 kilogram)

1 cup onion, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped

Pinch cayenne

5 cups chicken stock

¼ cup whipping cream

Salt and freshly ground pepper



1 tablespoon olive oil

2 ounces (60 grams) pancetta or regular bacon, about 2 slices

4 ounces (115 grams) chanterelles, torn into pieces

8 sage leaves, fried in a little oil until crispy


Preheat oven to 450 F. Oil a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place squash, cut-side down. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until squash is soft and caramelized at the edges. Scrape flesh out and reserve (you should have about 2 cups).

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to soup pot. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes or until softened. Add thyme, sage, cayenne, chicken stock and squash.

Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Purée soup until smooth in food processor. Return to pot, stir in cream and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Reheat when needed.

Heat oil in skillet and fry bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble bacon. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon oil. Add mushrooms to skillet over medium high heat and sauté until browned and juice has evaporated, about 3 minutes.

Serve soup garnished with bacon, mushrooms and fried sage leaves.

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I have a field of chervil in my garden – nothing seems to defeat it so I use it a lot. It has a slightly licorice fresh flavour, which gives the shrimp a lovely tang. If none is available, substitute with tarragon. If you want to use this as a main course double it and serve with sautéed kale.


Servings: 4

Ready In: 20 minutes


1 cup packed watercress sprigs

2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped

¼ cup chervil, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon lemon rind, grated

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup Parmesan, grated

½ cup fresh breadcrumbs

1 pound (500 grams) extra large shrimp (16 to 20)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons lemon juice


Preheat oven to 450 F.

Combine watercress, parsley, chervil, garlic, lemon rind, 2 tablespoons olive oil and Parmesan in a food processor or by hand. Keep the mixture chunky. Combine with the breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in an ovenproof skillet over high heat. Season shrimps with salt and pepper and add to skillet. Sauté for 1 minute, turning once, or until shrimp are just beginning to turn pink. Sprinkle in lemon juice and top with breadcrumb mixture. Bake for 5 minutes or until crumbs are golden and shrimp are cooked through.

Serve immediately from the skillet.

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Figs, which are now in season, are very easy to roast. I find Black Mission figs roast the best.

Servings: 4

Ready In: I hour


Black Mission Fig Salad:

8 large ripe Black Mission figs, quartered

¼ cup red wine

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Freshly ground pepper to taste


8 cups arugula

1 block burrata cheese

2 tablespoons chopped chives


¼ cup walnut or olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place figs in a small baking dish, cut side up, and sprinkle with red wine, balsamic vinegar and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, or until figs are soft and juicy. Remove figs from dish, reserving juices, and let cool.

Drain juices into a bowl and whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cool.

Place salad greens in a large bowl. Toss with dressing. Divide among 4 plates and garnish with burrata torn into bite-size pieces, the figs and chives.

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Recently, I bought chanterelles, shiitake and honey mushrooms and combined them into a flavourful first course. Making your own croutes enhances the dish and they keep for several weeks sealed in an airtight container. Serve with a small salad on the side.

Servings: 6

Ready In: 20 minutes


Mushroom Prosciutto Sauté:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

½ cupchopped shallots1½ pounds (750 grams) mixed mushrooms, torn or sliced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

½ cup red wine

¼ cup whipping cream

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

6 slices of prosciutto


½ baguette, sliced on the bias ¼-inch thick

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half


Heat oil in large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and shallots and sauté for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add mushrooms and thyme and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes or until the juices have evaporated.

Add wine, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes or until wine is nearly evaporated. Stir in cream and bring to boil for 1 minute or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with parsley.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Brush baguette slices lightly with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, turning half-way, or until crisp and lightly golden.

Remove from oven and rub each croute with the cut side of the garlic clove. Pile mushrooms on croutes and top each with a slice of prosciutto.

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We took the traditional Roquefort out of the dressing in deference to younger palates, but you can add it back in if you want a sharper taste. (Stilton or gorgonzola are also good substitutes.) Let your kids choose their own toppings. Mine love bacon, tomatoes and chopped egg. Avocado or chopped chicken are also good options. Here is my family recipe.



Servings: 4

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Ready In: 20 minutes


Lettuce and Dressing:

1 head iceberg lettuce

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon garlic, chopped

¼ teaspoon dried mustard

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons water (or more) to thin

Salt and freshly ground pepper


6 strips bacon, sautéed and crumbled

2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

2 tomatoes, diced finely

½ cup Roquefort cheese, crumbled


Cut lettuce into quarters (or eighths if very large). Place on serving dishes and set aside.

Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and mustard, and whisk olive oil in a little at a time. Thin with water to desired consistency and add salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over lettuce and top with bacon, eggs, tomatoes and Roquefort. Extra dressing should be dotted on the side.

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In Chile, tomato salad is served with just about everything. You can omit the spicy peppers if you wish. Coriander is the herb usually used but basil works beautifully with it, too. Use a poblano (greener heat) or banana pepper (more gentle) for the spice.



Servings: 6

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ready In: 5 minutes


3 heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 cup Vidalia or other sweet onion, thinly sliced

¼ cup banana or other mildly spicy pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

¼ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lime juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper

½ cup coriander sprigs


Place tomatoes on a platter and sprinkle onions and peppers on top. Drizzle olive oil and lime juice, and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with coriander.

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This pure white cold soup is rich but not calorie-laden. It would look beautiful topped with caviar. To keep it affordable, I have used smoked salmon instead.



Servings: 4 to 6

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Ready In: 3 hours including chilling time


1 tablespoon butter

2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green part only

4 cups chicken stock

4 cups cauliflower florets, cut into 1-inch pieces

¼ cup whipping cream

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon lemon juice


¼ cup smoked salmon, chopped

2 tablespoons chives, chopped


Heat butter in a pot over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté until limp, about 3 minutes. Add stock and bring to boil. Add cauliflower and simmer for 10 minutes or until the florets are soft.

Purée soup with a food processor or blender until very smooth (if the soup is too thick, add a little extra stock). Add cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add lemon juice. Chill.

Top with smoked salmon and chives before serving.

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In the late summer, bunches of small beets are a riot of colour. You can find orange, red and candy-striped, which all look wonderful in this substantial salad. Use the larger ones only if the small ones aren't available. Red beets tend to stain everything they come in contact with, but if you let baby beets cool before peeling, they will stain less.


Servings: 4


Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour

Ready In: 1 hour 10 minutes


1 pounds (450 grams) mixed colour beets, preferably the small ones

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons water


2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper


1/3 cup chopped shallots

3 tablespoons chopped mint

½ cup walnut pieces

6 ounces (200 grams) fresh ricotta

2 cups baby arugula

2 tablespoons chive oil (or other fresh herb oil)


Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place beets in a baking dish with olive oil and water. Cover tightly with foil or a lid and bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, depending on size. Beet should be tender. Slip skins off beets and cut in halves, keeping red and other coloured beets separate.

Combine sherry vinegar and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over beets and toss to combine. Stir in shallots, mint and walnut pieces.

Divide arugula among 4 salad plates or bowls; top each with fresh ricotta and pile beet salad over. Sprinkle over a little chive oil. Serves 4

To make chive oil: combine ½ cup chives with ½ cup olive oil and 2 tablespoons chopped green onion tops. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Let sit for 2 hours then strain. The oil should be a bright green colour.

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I had this sandwich at Enoteca Sociale, an Italian wine bar in Toronto's buzzy Dundas West area, and fell in love. Developed by Chef Rocco Agostino it highlights great quality bread, cheese and anchovies. Mr. Agostino makes his own anchovies but I used jarred ones.


16 1/2-inch thick round slices baguette

1 4-ounce (125-gram) ball buffalo mozzarella, cut into 8 slices

8 anchovy fillets, with oil

olive oil for frying

¼ cup Italian parsley leaves

1 recipe Pickled Shallots (recipe below)


Place mozzarella and anchovies between bread slices, brushing the inside of one slide with a little anchovy oil.

Heat about 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches and adding more oil to pan if needed, fry sandwiches for 2 minutes a side, pressing down with a spatula to compress slightly, or until bread is golden and cheese is beginning to melt. Garnish with parsley and serve with pickled shallots. Servings: 8 mini-sandwiches



1/2 cup water

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup carrot, thinly sliced

1 cup shallots, thinly sliced

Combine all ingredients except shallots in a small pot over high heat. Bring to a boil. Pour pickling liquid over sliced shallots and cool. Makes about 1 cup

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