Happy New Year!

31 12 2008


As we approach the end of another year, many people take a moment to reflect on the past 365 days.  2008 was a very difficult year for many people, including some of my friends and family.  As we toast the new year this evening, let’s look to the future with hope and put difficult times behind us.  I wish everyone a safe, healthy and happy 2009.

I’d like to thank everyone for their support and encouragement this past year and look forward to bringing you more great recipes and inspiration in the year ahead!

All the best, 


New Domain

28 12 2008

Exciting news!  I have registered the domain name www.theseasonalgourmet.ca so I’ll be easier to find.  

You can still reach this site using the original WordPress address (www.theseasonalgourmet.wordpress.com) or use the new domain and you will automatically be directed here.



Baked French Toast

26 12 2008



When cooking for a crowd around the holidays, it’s helpful to have a few recipes that can be prepared in advance so you can enjoy the festivities with your guests.  This is the perfect dish for Christmas morning or New Year’s Day but it can be made any time you want something fuss-free and delicious for breakfast.  All the prep work is done the night before so all you have to do is bake it and serve in the morning.

This recipe was developed by me and my sister-in-law Jenn this year so we could minimize kitchen time on Christmas morning.  It works best with bread that is slightly stale.  Use a whole loaf (instead of pre-sliced bread) so you can slice it thickly yourself.

Baked French Toast

Makes about 12 thick slices

  • 1 whole loaf unsliced challah or other white bread
  • 1 can (370 ml / 12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk (equals 1-1/2 cups)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest (finely grated orange peel)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • Butter, to grease baking pan


  1. Grease a large baking pan (at least 12″ X 16″).  Slice bread into slices about 1″ thick and lay flat in pan. Make sure all pieces are laying flat and not overlapping or they won’t brown properly.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine evaporated milk, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla, orange zest, nutmeg and salt.  Whisk until smooth and thoroughly mixed.
  3. Pour mixture evenly over bread slices.  Once it has soaked in a bit, turn slices over so they are completely soaked in egg mixture. 
  4. Cover pan and place in the fridge overnight.
  5. To bake: heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake french toast for 20 to 25 minutes or until the bread is browned on top and beginning to puff.
  6. Serve with maple syrup or your favourite topping.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Mulled Cranberry Wine (and a Christmas rhyme!)

24 12 2008



Mulled Cranberry Wine

Makes 4 cups / 1 litre

You’ll need:

  • 750-ml bottle red wine (3 cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 spice packet
  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  • Rind from a small orange or tangerine, cut into strips
  • For garnish: orange or tangerine slices and cinnamon sticks

Can be served warm or chilled, like a spiced sangria.  You can add a splash of club soda if serving as a sangria.


‘Tis the night before Christmas at The Seasonal Gourmet

The weather is frightful and the snow’s here to stay


What could be better to chase off the cold

Than a cup of mulled wine, with flavours so bold


In a large stockpot on medium high

Heat up a bottle of your favourite red wine


Pour in the cranberry, only a cup

And heat the whole mixture until it warms up


Toss in the spice pack and spoonfuls of sweet

And continue to simmer on medium heat


Add in the peel, from an orange rind

Or from a tangerine – whatever you find


Garnish your glass with an orange slice

And serve the drinks hot or chilled over ice


Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year

And enjoy lots of good food and holiday cheer!



Bon Appétit and Happy Holidays!


Welcome to Winter!

22 12 2008


Today is the first day of winter, which is the shortest day of the year.  There have also been snowstorms across North America this weekend so it really looks like winter in a lot of places.  For seasonal eaters in the north, winter certainly has its challenges but it also has a lot of good points.  Cozy dinners by the fire, hearty and rustic meals, hot chocolate and braises are just a few of the things we can enjoy in the coming months.  So check back often as I explore what we can do with seasonal ingredients this winter.  And before you know it, it will be spring again!

I’d also like to extend seasons greetings to my Jewish friends as you celebrate the first night of Hanukkah.  


Bon Appétit and Happy Holidays to everyone!


Smoked Salmon Spread

20 12 2008


Smoked Salmon

Things have been pretty quiet this December at The Seasonal Gourmet.  I’ve been busy working on a project and getting ready for Christmas so there hasn’t been a lot of time for recipe development and baking (plus, for dietary reasons I’ve cut back on cookies and sweets this year).  However, it is the season for entertaining family and friends so here’s an easy smoked salmon spread that is delicious on crackers.   You can use reduced fat cream cheese and serve on cucumber rounds to lighten it up a little.

Smoked Salmon Spread

Makes about 1-1/2 cups

  • 4 oz. (113 g) smoked salmon slices (about 5 slices)
  • 1 package (250 g / 8 oz) light cream cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 2 Tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Dill sprig, for garnish


  1. Make sure cream cheese is at room temperature.  Cut into chunks and place in a food processor.
  2. Add all other ingredients and pulse until mixture is smooth.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.  Serve with crackers or cucumber rounds.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!


Braised Short Ribs

11 12 2008


Braising is the perfect cooking method for cold winter days.  It’s a technique that involves searing meat in oil, adding a small amount of liquid and cooking in a covered vessel at a lower temperature for a long period of time.  Tough cuts of meat become tender and juicy and a rich sauce develops.  Although preparing a slow cooked braise requires some planning ahead and prep work, once it’s in the oven you can sit back and relax for a few hours.  This dish is ideal for entertaining because it tastes even better the next day.  Just reheat and serve with your favourite side dishes.

This recipe has been adapted from the short rib recipe at Balthazar restaurant in New York City.  It’s a French brasserie serving up such classics as steak frites and mussels.  The ribs pair well with mashed potatoes and sautéed winter greens such as swiss chard.

The secret to success with this dish is to use the meatiest short ribs you can find.  If you can’t find ones that are large and marbled with fat, increase the number of ribs used and reduce the cooking time slightly.  The recipe makes enough for 4 but it can easily be doubled.  Plus, it’s so delicious, you’ll probably want to have some leftovers to enjoy!

Some great side dishes that pair well with the ribs:

Try to find large meaty short ribs for this dish

Try to find large meaty short ribs for this dish

Braised Short Ribs

Makes 4 servings – can easily be doubled

  • 2-1/2 lbs. (about 1 kg) beef shortribs – about 2 to 3 large meaty ribs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil such as canola or safflower
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup port
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 cups beef stock
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.   Cut each long rib in half and season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
  2. In an enameled cast iron pot, heat oil on medium heat.  Add the ribs to the pot and brown on all sides.  Once browned, remove from pot and set aside.
  3. Add carrots, onion, shallot, celery and garlic to the pot and sauté until softened and golden brown, about 7 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning.
  4. Stir tomato paste into vegetable mix.  Add flour and stir to combine.  Cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add wine, port and herbs.  Turn heat to medium-high and simmer for about 10 minutes, until mixture begins to reduce.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.
  6. Add stock and return ribs to pot.  Cover tightly and put in the oven.  Cook for 3 hours, checking on them each hour to ensure nothing is burning at the bottom of the pot.  The meat should be very tender.
  7. Once the ribs are done, use tongs to remove the ribs from the sauce.  Place meat in a bowl and set aside.  With a mesh strainer or cheesecloth-lined colander, strain sauce into a saucepan, pressing on solids to extract all liquid.  Discard solids.
  8. Bring strained sauce to a boil and reduce for about 10 minutes.  Pour sauce over ribs and serve.
Braised short ribs with mashed potatoes and a rosemary sprig garnish

Braised short ribs with mashed potatoes and a rosemary sprig garnish

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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