Winter Caprese Salad

26 02 2009


Roasted tomatoes, oregano and balsamic vinegar make this salad suitable for winter

Roasted tomatoes, oregano and balsamic vinegar make a caprese salad suitable for winter

One of the most popular posts on this site is for Caprese Salad.  I did a feature last summer about composing this classic salad in various ways.  Because of the recipe’s simplicity, the key to a perfect caprese salad is selecting top notch ingredients. Unfortunately, it’s February and quality tomatoes and fresh basil aren’t available to most of us.  So why not improvise and create a winter version?  

Roasting winter tomatoes enhances their flavour, making them suitable for this salad. They don’t look as pretty as fresh slices but their sweetness will make you forget about their appearance.  A drizzle of balsamic vinegar gives the salad a bit of body and an extra boost of flavour.  I use oregano instead of basil because it has a heartier taste that stands up nicely to the roasted tomatoes.

Winter Caprese

Like my summer caprese post, this is less of a recipe than a guideline.  If you use the roasted tomato recipe I posted last year, it will yield 16 tomato halves.  Roasting the tomatoes takes some time but once the prep work is done, they go into the oven until they’re done.  I find that winter tomatoes take a bit longer to roast than summer ones so add an extra 30 minutes or so to the roasting time if nessecary.

  • Roasted tomatoes – sprinkled with oregano instead of thyme
  • Fresh mozzarella, cut into slices about 1/2″ thick.  The number of slices should be equal to the number of tomato halves used.
  • Finely chopped fresh oregano
  • Good quality olive oil, to drizzle over salad
  • Decent quality balsamic vinegar, to drizzle over salad
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper
  1. Arrange slices of mozzarella and roasted tomatoes on a platter, alternating and overlapping them.  Drizzle with a spoonful of olive oil and another of balsamic vinegar.
  2. Sprinkle salad with chopped oregano, sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!


Pancake Tuesday

23 02 2009

Electric Mixer

Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday, also called Pancake Tuesday in many places (and more commonly known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday around the world).  When I was growing up, we would eat pancakes as part of the tradition. If you don’t have time for a pancake breakfast, why not have ‘breakfast for dinner’, with pancakes as the main event?  Pair them with a side of bacon, ham or sausage for a hearty meal.

Click here for a delicious pancake recipe I developed for Suite 101: Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

These pancakes are a little different than thin ‘flapjack’ style pancakes.  They are quite thick but mixing beaten egg whites into the batter makes their texture fluffy and light.  Serve with blueberry sauce (made with frozen blueberries) or maple syrup.


Pancakes with blueberry sauce

Pancakes with blueberry sauce

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

A Valentine’s Day Menu

12 02 2009

istock_000002801671xsmallValentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year which is great for enjoying the evening with a loved one (or a group of friends if you are feeling sociable or are unattached). However, going to a restaurant on Valentine’s Day can sometimes be more trouble than it’s worth.  Struggling to get a reservation at your favourite place then dealing with the crowds and overworked staff makes entertaining at home look like an attractive option.  Save the restaurant visit for the following week, when the crowds have died down and you can really enjoy yourself.  A home cooked meal is also a great idea if you’re watching your budget.  The following dishes can be made for a fraction of what a restaurant would charge.

If you’re staying in, an elegant menu is in order.  The main dish (ribs or osso buco), potato and pudding recipes are designed to make four servings so you can either invite some friends to join you, cut the recipes in half or enjoy leftovers the next day. Half bottles of sparkling wines and red wines are usually available if you’re serving two people and don’t want to go overboard.


A Valentine’s Day Menu for 2 or 4 people

Champagne or sparkling wine

Smoked Salmon Spread with crackers OR a Selection of Freshly Shucked Oysters

Scallop Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

Braised Short Ribs  OR  Osso Buco with Tomato Sauce

Mashed Potatoes

A bold red wine, such as Sangiovese, Barolo or Cabernet Sauvignon to accompany the main course

Individual Chocolate Puddings

Ice Wine Cocktails with a selection of cheeses

Chocolate Truffles (purchased from a good chocolate shop)


Bon Appétit and Happy Valentine’s Day!



Scallop Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette makes an elegant starter course for a romantic Valentine's Day meal

Scallop Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette makes an elegant starter course for a romantic Valentine's Day meal

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

10 02 2009


Mashed potatoes are one of my favourite comfort foods.  Creamy russet potatoes mixed with cream and butter – what’s not to like?  They are very versatile as an accompaniment to classic winter dishes such as braises, stews, roast beef, shepherd’s pie, meat loaf, gravy and roast chicken.  Potatoes are available year round and can be stored throughout the winter.  They are also very inexpensive so they can stretch your food budget a long way.

I recently published an article for Suite 101 on how to make perfect mashed potatoes.  The recipe calls quite a bit of cream and butter (it’s for ‘perfect’ potatoes, not low-fat ones!) but you can always cut back on the butter and use lower fat milk or evaporated milk in place of the cream.  They won’t be quite as good but they’ll still be pretty tasty if you follow the technique and season them properly.

Click here for the Suite 101 article: How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes.  Serve with your favourite hearty winter dishes, such as Braised Short Ribs.

Bon Appetit and Enjoy!


Creamy mashed potatoes with a pat of butter

Creamy mashed potatoes with a pat of butter

Lobster Pot Pie

6 02 2009


A photo taken in mid-January shows lobsters selling for $5.00 per pound

A photo taken in mid-January shows lobsters selling for $5.00 per pound

We’re living in difficult economic times right now.  Every day the news features stories about companies downsizing and people losing their jobs.  So why am I featuring a dish that uses an expensive ingredient like lobster?  No, it’s not because I am an insensitive clod. Rather, lobster prices have recently been the lowest we’ve seen in years, meaning that lobster meat may be within reach without having to take out a loan.  It also helps support the lobster industry which has been hit hard by the economic downturn.  


Misty Harbour Seafood in New Brunswick

Misty Harbour Seafood in New Brunswick

If you are able to find affordable lobster meat, this dish is well worth making.  It’s great for entertaining because you can assemble the pot pie in advance and bake it when your guests arrive.  A dish featuring lobster will always impress!


Click here for the recipe I recently posted on Suite 101: Lobster Pot Pie

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!



Lobster Pot Pie

Lobster Pot Pie