Displaying items by tag: pasta and rice


I love the cheesiness and rich taste of this dish – it’s the perfect comfort food for the holiday season. You could serve this with the salmon or by itself as a vegetarian main. Vary the cheeses to your own taste.

2 medium red onions

4½ cups small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

2 red peppers, cut into 1-inch chunks

2 zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 eggplant, cut into 1-inch chunks

4 plum tomatoes, quartered and seeded

1 banana pepper, sliced on diagonal into thin strips

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound (500 grams) penne

¼ cup butter

¼ cup flour

2 cups milk

½ cup whipping cream

1 cup grated Fontina

1 8-ounce (250-gram) ball fresh mozzarella, grated

1 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Cut onions in half and cut each half into 4 wedges. Remove root end and separate onion pieces. Combine onion, butternut squash, red peppers, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and banana pepper in a large bowl.

Combine thyme, rosemary, olive oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss with vegetables until well coated. Divide all vegetables between 2 large rimmed baking sheets and roast for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes and switching tray positions in oven halfway through, until vegetables are cooked through and browned. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350 F.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions until slightly undercooked. Drain. Return to pot.

Heat butter in another pot over medium-high heat. Add flour and stir together until smooth. Combine milk and cream and slowly add to pot, whisking constantly, until combined. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and add Fontina, mozzarella and ½ cup Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

Add sauce to pasta and toss to combine. Stir in vegetables. Transfer to an oiled 9 x 13-inch baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until sauce bubbles and mixture is hot. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup Parmesan and lots of black pepper. Serves 8. 

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This is incredibly rich and cheesy. People can pick up their little gratins, sprinkle on the topping of their choice and savour the flavour combinations. Some of my family's favourite toppings include crumbled bacon, sautéed garlic breadcrumbs, chopped lobster meat, extra cheese, salsa and chopped Italian sausage. Basically, add whatever your imagination allows! I like small tubetti pasta, but any shape will work.


1 pound (500 grams) macaroni noodles

1/3 cup butter

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups milk

8 ounces (250 grams) cheddar or fontina cheese, grated (about 2 ½ cups)

4 ounces (125 grams) soft goat cheese, crumbled

4 ounces (125 grams) brie or gorgonzola, rind removed, cut in cubes or crumbled

1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Preheat oven to 425 F. Oil 24 small gratin dishes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente.

While macaroni is cooking, melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes (flour should not colour). Pour in milk and whisk until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in cheese.

Return pot to low heat, stirring constantly, until cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cooked macaroni and pack into prepared gratin dishes.

Bake for 20 minutes or until set and slightly golden on the sides. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with toppings. Serves 12


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Ratatouille the movie is a glorious treat in which an animated rat creates a magnificent ratatouille (recipe courtesy of real-life chef Thomas Keller of the French Laundry). Here is my version: a little unorthodox but wonderful. I roast the vegetables and tomatoes with lots of fresh herbs, garlic and a mustard sauce.

You can vary the quantity of vegetables, if desired. Use plum tomatoes as they have a thicker skin and hold their shape better. Sicilian eggplant is football shaped and sweeter and less seedy than the regular variety (which can be used in its place).

Serve as a main course for lunch or an appetizer for dinner.

Cover with cheese and bake for 25 minutes for an accompaniment to roast lamb. Here, it is tossed with pasta.

2 cups chopped onions

1 Sicilian eggplant, cut into ½-inch dice

4 cups chopped zucchini (½-inch dice)

1 red pepper, cut into ½-inch dice

3 ½ cups plum tomatoes, quartered

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 tablespoons slivered fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/3 cup olive oil

1 pound penne pasta

¼ cup chopped parsley

Grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Combine onion, eggplant, zucchini, red pepper and tomatoes in a large bowl.

Stir in garlic, basil, thyme and oregano and season well with salt and pepper.

Whisk together mustard and oil and toss with vegetables.

Spread vegetables on a large baking pan and bake for 50 minutes, stirring after 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender and slightly browned but not soupy.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add penne and cook according to package directions. Drain, reserving some pasta cooking water.

Toss pasta with ratatouille mixture, thinning with reserved pasta cooking water if desired. Add parsley and sprinkle with cheese. Serves 6.

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A Mediterranean version of chicken soup that uses Israeli couscous instead of the more traditional rice.  It is the perfect soup for Rosh Hashanah. Israeli couscous is a tiny round pasta that looks like pearl barley but tastes like pasta.

6 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup Israeli couscous

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring broth to boil in large pot, slowly stir in couscous. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until couscous is softened.

Beat together eggs, lemon juice and dill in a bowl. Slowly stir in several ladlefuls of soup. Add warm egg-lemon mixture back into soup and cook together for 2 or 3 minutes. Do not boil because the soup will curdle. Season well with salt and pepper. Serves 6

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A simplified risotto. The stock is added twice instead of in small increments. The texture is not identical to a well-made risotto, but stands up beautifully.

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 1/2 cups short-grain Italian rice

3/4 cup dry white wine

4 cups hot chicken stock

1 cup peas, fresh or frozen, defrosted

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt, freshly ground pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a pot over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add rice and stir until coated with oil, then add wine and cook, stirring, until the wine has almost totally evaporated.

Add 2 cups stock, and cook, stirring occasionally, until stock is absorbed.

Add remaining 2 cups stock and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until stock is absorbed and rice is creamy but firm. You may need to add up to ½ cup extra stock. Total time will be about 22 minutes.

Stir in peas, remaining 1 tablespoon butter and cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with osso bucco. Serves 4 to 6

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Risotto is a favourite dish in Scotland among the better restaurants. There, it would be cooked with large juicy prawns just fished out of the loch, but large shrimp or baby lobster tails work beautifully. Serve a green salad on the side.

¼ cup butter

1 pound large shrimp, peeled

1 cup chopped onion

2 cups carnaroli or Arborio rice

½ cup white wine

4 to 5 cups hot chicken stock

1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen defrosted

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in pot over medium heat. Add shrimp and sauté for 2 minutes or until partly cooked. Remove from butter and add onions. Sauté for 2 minutes, add rice and sauté 2 minutes longer or until rice is coated with butter.

Pour in wine and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer vigorously until wine practically disappears, then add stock about 1 cup at a time. As stock is absorbed, add another cup, stirring frequently. After 15 minutes or when rice is still a little hard, stir in shrimp and peas. Cook 5 minutes longer, adding more stock or until rice is al dente. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and remaining butter. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Serves 4.

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These vegetarian noodles are a good dish to serve with the fish. You get a starch and lots of vegetables together. Use the broad rice noodles that you would use for Pad Thai.


8 ounces rice noodles


2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon sambal oelek (or to taste)

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1/4 cup water

Stir fry:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoons chopped garlic

1 tablespoons chopped ginger

2 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced on the bias

50 grams (2 ounces) thin green beans, stem ends removed, halved if long

250 grams (8 ounces) wild mushrooms, thickly sliced (5 cups)

1/4 cup coriander sprigs


Soak noodles in hot water to cover for 15 minutes or until softened. Drain and rinse with cold water and reserve.

Combine fish sauce, sugar, sambal oelek, lime juice and rind, oyster sauce and water and set aside.

Heat wok over high heat. Add oil and swirl carefully to coat. Add ginger and garlic. Stir fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add zucchini and green beans.

Stir fry for 2 minutes or until beginning to soften. Add mushrooms and fry for 1 to 2 minutes more or until just cooked.

Add noodles and toss to combine. Add sauce and toss until noodles are coated.

Bring to a boil and cook 1 to 2 minutes more or until noodles have softened. Sprinkle with coriander sprigs. Serves 4.

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I bought the thick Shanghai noodles already cooked at T&T, but you can buy uncooked ones at most supermarkets.

Boil for 3 minutes and dress with 1 tablespoon soy sauce and ½ teaspoon sesame oil.

Sometimes I buy the Korean tofu salad, which is spicy, and just throw that in with the noodles for the fastest dinner imaginable.

Sambal oelek is a pure chili hot sauce and my preferred choice.



3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon sambal oelek

¼ cup chicken stock

175 grams (6 ounces) store-bought barbecue pork

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon chopped ginger

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 cup sliced onion

2 cups broccoli florets, blanched for one minute

1 cup sliced red pepper

1 package (350 grams) Shanghai noodles

¼ cup slivered green onions


Combine soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sambal oelek and chicken stock. Reserve.

Thinly slice barbecue pork.

Heat skillet over high heat then add oil.

Stir in ginger, garlic and onion. Stir-fry for 1 minute, then add red pepper and stir-fry another minute.

Stir in broccoli and barbecue pork. Stir together until heated through. Add noodles and combine.

Stir in sauce ingredients. Toss with noodles, bring to boil and sprinkle with green onions. Serves 4.

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There is a famous Puglian recipe for dandelion greens and chick pea puree that I love. Here I have deconstructed it to make a savoury pasta dish with another Puglian specialty - orrechiette. Look for young organic dandelion greens if possible. They are full of flavour and not bitter. Serve as an appetizer.


250 grams (8 ounces) orrechiette

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

½ teaspoon chili flakes

About 8 cups dandelion greens, stems and bottom of leaf.

540-millilitre (19-ounce) can chick peas, drained and rinsed

Salt and freshly ground pepper


½ cup grated Parmesan

1 tablespoon olive oil


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add orrechiette and boil for 9 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Strain, reserving ¾ cup pasta cooking water.

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté 3 minutes or until soft then stir in garlic and chili and sauté 1 minute longer.

Add dandelion greens and sauté for 1 minute or until greens are limp then add chickpeas. Pour in ½ cup pasta cooking water and let mixture cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until everything is heated through and the tastes are amalgamated. Season with salt and pepper.

Add cooked pasta and stir together. If mixture seems a little dry, add the remaining pasta cooking water. Drizzle with olive oil. Taste for seasoning adding more salt and pepper as needed. Serve sprinkle with Parmesan. Serves 4

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Upscale macaroni and cheese must be New York's new "it" dish because I saw versions at the Waverly Inn and at Café Gray in the Time Warner Center (that rich take was mixed with large chunks of lobster). This is Toronto transplant Lynn Crawford's (who's now at the Four Seasons in New York) luxurious take.

Mimolette is a French cow's milk cheese that tastes much like a mature Edam. It is dark orange. If Mimolette is not available, a good substitute is aged cheddar. We used a white truffle cream (available at upscale grocery stores) instead of the black truffle paste that Crawford calls for and found that 4 tablespoons was enough.



250 grams (½ pound) dried elbow macaroni or cavatappi

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup fresh breadcrumbs

¼ cup finely chopped parsley

2 ounces Parmesan, grated

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 cups whole milk

¼ cup all-purpose flour

12 ounces sharp white cheddar, grated

6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated

4 ounces Mimolette cheese, grated

8 tablespoons black truffle paste, or to taste



Butter a 1½-quart casserole dish and set aside.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add macaroni and cook for 2 to 6 minutes or until very al dente. Drain and let cool.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large sauté pan. Add breadcrumbs and stir to coat. Remove breadcrumbs to a small bowl and toss with parsley and grated Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

Heat milk in a small saucepot over medium heat until milk is very hot but not scalded.

Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat in another pot. When butter begins to bubble, add flour and stir until cooked, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in hot milk and whisk continuously until all of the milk is incorporated and the sauce begins to thicken.

Remove from heat and add cheddar, Gruyère and Mimolette and mix well until melted. Stir in truffle paste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add macaroni to cheese sauce and pour into prepared casserole. Sprinkle with Parmesan breadcrumbs and bake for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. Serves 6.

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