Healthy Recipe Ideas

4 01 2011

Eating healthier is one of the most common new year's resolutions.

Happy New Year!

If you’re anything like me, the holidays were a whirlwind of crazy overindulgence. From turkey dinner with all the fixin’s to an insanely decadent trip to Montreal (which included such delights as foie gras poutine, smoked meat sandwiches and vintage champagne), it’s now time for me to get back to eating a more balanced diet.

Many people make new year’s resolutions to eat better and exercise more.  To get inspired, here are a few helpful links to recipes and sites that will make eating a healthier diet pleasurable and delicious (no dry rice crackers and starvation diets are necessary!)

 

Fish can be a delicious part of a balanced diet

Recipes:

Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

Roasted Green Beans with Shallots

Avocado Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

How to Make Flavorful Low-Fat Soups

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Thyme Croutons

Spiced Apple Walnut Bread

Peppery Leek and Potato Soup

More great ideas can be found here:

Cooking Light

Simple Till Six: An Eating Plan for Busy People

Five Healthy Ways to Post-Holiday Detox

Healthy Eating – The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

I’d like to wish everyone a healthy and happy 2011!

Bon Appétit and Enjoy,

Trish

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Christmas Brunch

23 12 2010

Pre-cooked ham makes an easy Christmas brunch dish.

Christmas morning is an exciting time for anyone who celebrates the holiday.  Kids wake up at the crack of dawn to see if Santa has arrived and many adults still feel a tingle of excitement when they see the tree surrounded by gifts in the morning. Once everyone has opened their presents and settled down, why not enjoy a delicious brunch?

I like to make a nice meal on Christmas morning.  However, I don’t like to fuss too much because who wants to be slaving in the kitchen when everyone else is having fun?  (plus, I have a turkey dinner to cook later in the day!).  The key is to do as much as possible the night before so Christmas can be enjoyed with your family.

Here are a few ideas for a relatively simple brunch.  I have included some helpful tips for prepping in advance to make things easier.

Spiced Cranberry-Apple Cider – On Christmas morning, I like to get up before everyone and put on a pot of mulled cider so when everyone wakes up, the house smells wonderful and there is something warm to drink while we’re opening gifts. Prepare the spice packet the night before. To make cranberry-apple cider, mix equal parts non-alcoholic apple cider and unsweetened cranberry juice in a saucepan and add the spice packet. Let simmer for 10 minutes and serve.  Garnish mugs with cinnamon sticks if desired.

Crustless Quiche – Leaving out the crust makes things much simpler. Of course, asparagus isn’t in season during Christmas but you can substitute chopped spinach, sautéed leeks, diced red peppers or sautéed mushrooms.  Bake the pie the night before and serve at room temperature or briefly warmed in the oven.

Spicy Breakfast Potatoes – The potatoes can be peeled and cubed the night before. Place the cubes in a bowl, add enough cold water to just cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  Drain well and pat dry before cooking.  The spices can be pre-mixed in a small bowl so they’re ready to go in the morning.  You can let the potatoes cook while you’re preparing other dishes.

Cheddar-Herb Biscuits – The biscuits can be rolled, cut and placed in the baking dish the night before.  Refrigerate overnight and let them come to room temperature before baking.

Ham with Spicy Maple-Dijon Glaze – I buy a ham that has been pre-cooked, which makes things much simpler.  It can be sliced and served cold or heated briefly in the oven while other things are baking. Prepare the mustard glaze the night before and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Baked French Toast – This entire dish can be assembled the night before and baked in the morning.

Morning Glory (Orange and Pomegranate Mimosas) – In a pitcher, add orange and pomegranate juices the night before and refrigerate.  Add the sparkling wine just before serving (the wine can be added to the pitcher or to individual glasses.)  Use club soda for guests who don’t drink.

Pancakes – Mix all of the dry ingredients the night before in a large bowl.  Measure out the wet ingredients (except the egg) into small bowls and refrigerate.  In the morning, combine everything and cook the pancakes.  Serve with pre-made fruit syrup or maple syrup.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins – Like pancakes, the dry ingredients can all be measured and added to a large bowl the night before.  Measure the wet ingredients into small bowls and refrigerate.  In the morning, you can mix and bake everything quickly.

Banana-Rum Bread – Banana bread and other sweet breads can be made in advance and frozen.  Remove from the freezer the night before to defrost in time for brunch.

Yogurt, cereal, bagels with cream cheese, smoked salmon, granola and fruit don’t require much prep work!

Coffee and Tea – Set up the coffee maker/espresso machine/french press with coffee and water the night before.  Fill a kettle with water for tea.

A Final Tip: You will be very happy in the morning if you take the time to set the table before you go to bed (and tell Santa not to mess it up with crumbs while he’s enjoying his milk and cookies on Christmas Eve!)

Bon Appétit and Happy Holidays!





Pomegranate Cocktails

21 12 2010

Pomegranate juice makes a great base for festive cocktails

Pomegranates are in season right now and they are ideal for making festive holiday cocktails (bonus: pomegranate juice is good for you!).  Whole pomegranates can be juiced but it’s a bit of a hassle and bottled pomegranate juice is readily available almost everywhere these days.  However, if you can’t find pomegranate juice, you can substitute unsweetened cranberry juice.

Christmas in the Tropics

This drink was inspired by a recent trip I took.  It’s a great way to use up that bottle of coconut rum you bought one summer that has been languishing at the back of your liquor cabinet.  The coconut is subtle and the pomegranate balances the flavours nicely.

Makes two drinks (can easily be multiplied for a crowd)

  • 3 oz. rum
  • 1.5 oz. coconut rum (such as Malibu)
  • 6 oz. pomegranate juice
  • Ice
  • Slice of pomegranate or pomegranate berries, to garnish (optional)

In a cocktail shaker, combine the rums, juice and some ice.  Shake well and strain into two martini or low-ball glasses.  Garnish with a slice of pomegranate or some seeds.

The Merry Maker

This unusual cocktail captures the flavours of the holiday season: warming spices, pomegranate and mandarin orange. Vodka can be substituted for the tequila if you’d prefer.

Makes two drinks (can easily be multiplied for a crowd)

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teapsoon ground ginger
  • 1 oz. mandarin or regular orange juice
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 oz. tequila or vodka
  • 4 oz. pomegranate juice
  • Ice
  • Orange slice or twist as garnish (optional)

In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients (except garnish) and shake well.  Strain into martini glasses and garnish with an orange slice or twist if desired.

Morning Glory

Mimosas (orange juice with sparkling wine) make Christmas brunch festive.  Adding a splash of pomegranate gives it a new twist.  I sometimes juice some of the mandarin oranges or clementines that come in boxes around the holidays.

Makes one drink (can easily be multiplied for a crowd)

  • Orange juice or freshly squeezed mandarin or clementine juice
  • Pomegranate juice
  • An inexpensive sparkling wine such as cava or prosecco
  • Orange or mandarin slices to garnish, if desired

Fill a champagne flute halfway with orange juice.  Add a splash of pomegranate juice and top with sparkling wine.  Garnish with an orange slice.

Cheers and Enjoy!

Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

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Steve’s Osso Bucco

13 12 2010

Osso bucco (braised veal shanks) + risotto = the perfect cold weather meal.

It’s mid-December and in many areas the weather has taken a turn for the grim.  The days are short and dark and curling up with a cup of tea in front of the fire is a very appealing prospect.  What could be more delicious for dinner than a hearty braise, served over creamy risotto?

Any good butcher should be able to get veal shanks for you. Be sure to ask if you don't see any on display.

Osso bucco are Italian veal shanks and my friend Steve makes the best version I have ever had (it’s even better than the one I tried at Babbo restaurant in NYC!).  Luckily he gave me the recipe so now I can make it whenever I please.  It’s ideal for cold winter nights when you don’t want to fuss because it’s easy to put together and most of the cooking time is unattended.  Any good butcher should be able to get you veal shanks so ask for them if you don’t see them on display.

Tip: Don’t skip the gremolata – it brings all of the flavours together.

Steve’s Osso Bucco

Makes 6 servings

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 6 veal shanks (osso bucco)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium red onions, diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) dry white wine
  • 3 cups (700 ml) chicken stock
  • 14 fl. oz. can San Marzano tomatoes with juice (or half of a large can)

Gremolata:

  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 3 Tablespoons finely chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley
  • The rind from 2 lemons (yellow part only), finely diced
  1. In a large bowl, add the flour, salt and pepper and stir to combine thoroughly.  Roll each of the veal shanks in the flour, making sure they are coated on all sides.  Shake off any excess flour and set the shanks aside on a plate.  Discard any leftover flour.
  2. In an enameled cast iron pot (5.5 quart or larger) or other large pot with a lid, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the veal shanks to the oil, making sure they are not crowded in the pot (work in batches if necessary).  The shanks will take about 3 to 4 minutes per side to brown.  Use tongs or a fork to turn them over.
  3. Remove the browned shanks from the pot and set aside.  Add the butter to the pot and heat until melted.  Add the chopped onion, celery and carrots. Reduce the heat to medium-low and sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 7 to 8 minutes.  Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  4. Turn the heat back to medium-high and pour in the wine, chicken stock and tomatoes.  Break up the tomatoes with a spoon and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer.  Return the veal shanks to the pot and use one of the following methods to finishing cooking:
  5. Stovetop Method: Cover and simmer for 2 to 4 hours on medium-low heat, until the meat is tender.  Do not let the mixture come to a boil.  OR use the Oven Method: Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cover the pot and place in the oven, cooking for 3 hours or until the shanks are tender.
  6. To Make the Gremolata: In a small bowl, add the chopped garlic, parsley and lemon rind and stir to thoroughly combine.
  7. Stir the gremolata into the osso bucco sauce just before serving.
  8. Serve the shanks and sauce over risotto milanese.  Garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

A Delicious Tip: The bone marrow at the centre of each cooked shank can be seasoned with sea salt and scooped out with a small spoon.  Serve with toast rounds if desired.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

30 11 2010

Sablefish (aka Black Cod) with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes is a flavourful, lighter option.

The holiday season is upon us and with it comes parties, festive meals and general overindulgence.  Why not lighten up with a pan-roasted fish dish that doesn’t sacrifice flavour?

Sablefish is more commonly known as black cod.  It has become popular in the past few years because it is both sustainable and delicious.  Nobu restaurant popularized sablefish in their iconic dish, Black Cod with Miso, which has been copied by restaurants across North America (with good reason – it’s delicious).  Preparing the fish with fennel, cherry tomatoes and a lightly herbed crust gives it a Mediterranean twist.

Sablefish should be available at well-stocked fishmongers under the name sablefish, sable, butterfish or black cod.

To get the recipe from Suite 101.com, click here: Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Hearty Stracciatella-Style Soup

15 11 2010

This Stracciatella-style soup is heartier than the traditional version with the addition of chicken, winter vegetables and rice.

It’s no secret that I love to make soups.  I have featured a number of soup recipes, from a quick and simple Peppery Leek and Potato to a more complex Corn Chowder with Bell Peppers.  They’re the perfect antidote to cool, rainy days and nothing is more welcoming than walking into a home with an aromatic soup simmering on the stove.

Stracciatella is a simple Italian egg-drop soup (ie. a beaten egg is dropped into the broth as it cooks).  This recipe is a heartier version, designed to be a meal on its own.  It features seasonal vegetables, chicken and a bit of rice.  No, it’s not traditional (hence the title ‘Stracciatella-Style’) but it is delicious. For a more authentic version, check out Mario Batali’s recipe: Roman-Style Egg-Drop Soup: La Stracciatella.

A note about spinach: You can always use fresh spinach but to be honest, I find frozen spinach easier to work with if I’m using larger amounts in cooked dishes. Frozen chopped spinach should be easy to find in the frozen vegetable section of any supermarket.

Hearty Stracciatella-Style Soup

Makes about 7-1/2 to 8 cups

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large (about 8 to 10 oz. / 225 to 280 grams each) bone-in chicken breasts with skin on
  • 1 cup thinly sliced leeks (white and light green parts only), equals about 1 large leek
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 cup (packed) thawed frozen chopped spinach or cooked fresh spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6-1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup raw long grain rice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (packed) grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Sprinkle chicken breasts with a pinch of salt and ground pepper.  In a large soup pot or enameled cast iron pot, heat the olive oil on medium-high.
  2. Add the chicken, skin side down, and sauté until browned, about five minutes. Turn the chicken over and brown the other side, about another three minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside on a plate. Do not drain the oil from the pot.
  3. Add the chopped leeks, parsley, thawed spinach and nutmeg.  Stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the leeks begin to soften, about three minutes.
  4. Pour in 6 cups of the chicken stock (reserve the last 1/4 cup for the eggs) and add the rice.  Return the chicken to the pot.  Cover and let the soup simmer gently (not a hard boil) for 25 minutes.
  5. While the soup is simmering, beat two eggs with the remaining 1/4 cup of chicken stock and 1/4 cup of parmesan until smooth. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  6. After 25 minutes, remove the chicken breasts from the soup.  Remove the skin and discard.  Using two forks, pull the meat off the bone.  Discard the bones and chop the chicken meat into bite sized pieces.  Return the chopped chicken to the soup.
  7. Pour the beaten egg mixture into the soup, whisking vigorously.  Turn the heat to medium-high and simmer, whisking occasionally for five minutes.  Don’t be alarmed if the soup begins to look curdled – that’s how it’s supposed to look as the eggs cook.
  8. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish each serving with grated parmesan and chopped Italian parsley.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Penne with Sausage and Fennel Seed

1 11 2010

Penne with sausage and fennel seed

I can’t believe it’s already November!  It seems like just yesterday I was excited about the first chives of spring peeking out of my herb pot.  Now most of the farmers’ markets are done for the year and there is the possibility of snow in many areas (in fact, it snowed in Eastern Canada yesterday!).  However, there is still a lot of seasonal cooking we can do and as we get cozy, our menus become more hearty and warming.

This easy pasta dish is rich and filling but you can use evaporated milk in place of cream to lighten the sauce a bit.  Lean sausages also work but make sure not to overcook them or they will become dry.  You can also use whole wheat penne instead of white if you’d prefer.  It’s perfect after a vigorous autumn hike or day of raking leaves.

Penne with Sausage and Fennel Seed

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 5 mild or sweet Italian sausages
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • A 14 oz. (398 ml) can of tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup evaporated milk or cream
  • Pinch of sugar, to taste (optional – if tomatoes are very acidic)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 500 g (1 lb.) dried penne or rigatoni
  • Parmesan cheese, to garnish (optional)
  1. In a large deep skillet or enameled cast iron pot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and sauté until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
  2. Slice the skins of the sausages lengthwise down the middle and remove the meat from their casings. Discard the casings. Add the sausage meat to the pot and use a spatula or spoon to break up the meat. Add garlic, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes.
  3. Cook sausage mixture on medium-high until just browned, about 7 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  4. Add tomatoes and break up with a spoon. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until some of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in tomato paste until thoroughly combined.
  5. Add evaporated milk or cream and stir into sauce. Let sauce simmer for 5 more minutes. Season to taste with a pinch of sugar (optional – use if the tomatoes are very acidic), salt and pepper. Keep warm on low heat while the penne cooks.
  6. In a separate large pot with a lid, heat water to cook the penne. Bring to a boil and cook penne until al dente, according to package instructions, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  7. Drain penne and toss with sauce until thoroughly coated. Garnish with parmesan cheese if desired.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.





Celery Root Slaw

15 10 2010

 

Celery root (celeriac) is not the most attractive vegetable but it's delicious and versatile

 

Celery root (a.k.a. celeriac) is a root vegetable with a mild celery-like taste.  It is delicious both raw and cooked and it can be a nice alternative to potatoes in a puree or soup.  However, I particularly like celery root shredded and mixed with a lemony dressing, making a refreshing cold-weather slaw that is perfect with roast meats.

Celery root tends to be quite hard so peeling one requires a sharp knife.  To easily peel off the ugly outer skin, slice a sliver off the bottom so the root will stand upright on a cutting board.  Using a large, very sharp knife, carefully slice the skin off in a downward motion, working your way around the root (much like peeling a pineapple). Discard the skin. The root can be hand shredded on a box grater, however, I find it’s much easier to do so with a food processor grater attachment if you have one.

This salad makes a great side dish to roast chicken, braised short ribs or roast beef. Prepare the salad a few hours in advance so the flavours have time to come together and the celery root softens a little.

Celery Root Slaw

Makes about 4-1/2 cups of slaw

  • ½ large celery root or one small celery root, peeled (see note above for peeling guidelines) – will equal about 4-1/2 cups once shredded
  • ¾ cup Hellman’s or Best Foods style mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Tablespoon flat leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
  • Frisee or salad greens for serving (optional)
  1. Cut peeled celery root into 3” chunks. Using a food processor with a grater attachment or a box grater, grate celery root. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, celery salt, sugar, Dijon and garlic. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  3. Add mayonnaise mixture to grated celery root. Add chopped parsley and mix until completely mixed and celery root shreds are evenly coated.
  4. Serve on a bed of frisee or mixed greens, if desired.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.

 

Celery root slaw makes a refreshing cold-weather salad

 





Dark Chocolate Fondue

18 02 2010

 

Dark chocolate fondue with a plate of fruit and cake is a fun way to enjoy dessert by the fire.

 

We’re mid way through February, a month many consider to be the grimmest of the year.  However, we can make the best of the season by enjoying winter activities such as skiing and skating.  What better way to end a day of outdoor activity than by putting on a fire and gathering to enjoy some chocolate fondue?  Almost anything goes when it comes to dippers – you can try everything from fruit to cookies to cake (or let your imagination run wild!).  Fondue is also a great casual dessert for a romantic date. The fondue sauce and dippers can be prepared in advance, making things simple after dinner.

Visit Suite 101.com for a great dark chocolate fondue recipe and some dipper suggestions: Dark Chocolate Fondue.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





Oysters

15 01 2010

 

Prince Edward Island oysters at St. Lawrence Market, Toronto

Prince Edward Island oysters at St. Lawrence Market, Toronto

 

Oysters tend to be a ‘love them or hate them’ proposition.  However, for those who do love them, they’re the perfect thing to serve at a cocktail party or as a first course at dinner.  I also think that a lot of people who claim to hate oysters have never really tried them – they just think they look ugly and slimy (which they do, truth be told). Freshly shucked oysters and their sweet, briny liquor go well with a squeeze of lemon, horseradish, cocktail sauce, hot sauce and mignonette sauce (see recipe below).

Finding Oysters

Oysters are in season right now and there should be a wide variety available at good fish markets.  The traditional wisdom was that oysters should only be consumed during months with an ‘R’ in their names (ie. the colder months, September to April), however, these days oysters can usually be found year round.  A few years ago, I was on Prince Edward Island for a family reunion and my husband and I were wondering if we’d be able to get oysters.  We were staying not far from Malpeque so of course we could!  We drove a few minutes down the road and found a small dockside fish shop selling fresh oysters for less than a dollar each.  We bought a couple dozen, stopped at the liquor store for some sparkling wine and returned to our cottage to feast with my parents (who had never really eaten oysters, despite living in the Maritimes their entire lives). Luckily you don’t need to live on the coast to enjoy them – oysters are shipped around the world and are readily available at most fish counters. Some of my favourite restaurants to order oysters ‘inland’ include: Joe Beef (Montreal), Rodney’s Oyster House and Rodney’s By Bay (Toronto), Starfish and The Ceili Cottage (Toronto).

I happen to be partial to oysters from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick (Malpeques, Caraquet, Raspberry Points, Colville Bay, Lucky Limes, etc.) but oysters are harvested around the world, including in Japan, the Pacific Northwest, Ireland, the Gulf Coast of the U.S. and New England. 

How to Shuck an Oyster

A shucked oyster and oyster knife

 

Shucking oysters is not difficult but it does take some practice.  An excellent video from Chef Rich Vellante of Legal Sea Foods gives step-by-step instructions for shucking and preparing oysters: How to Shuck Oysters.  Oyster knives can be purchased at most kitchenware shops and cost as little as $10.           

Serving Oysters

To serve oysters, place ice in a large serving bowl or platter.  Shuck the oysters (see above) and arrange on the ice.  Accompany with fresh lemon wedges and small bowls of seafood cocktail sauce, fresh grated horseradish and mignonette (see below). When selecting a wine to go with oysters, choose a crisp, dry white such as riesling, muscadet, sauvignon blanc or champagne. Beer also works with oysters – try them Guinness for a delicious pairing.

Mignonette Sauce

Serve in a small bowl alongside a platter of oysters and spoon a small amount of sauce over each oyster before slurping it down.

Makes a scant 1/2 cup

  • 2 Tablespoons finely minced shallot (about 1/2 of a medium sized shallot)
  • 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients.  Let sit for at least 15 minutes before using.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

A platter of oysters with (from left to right) horseradish, lemon wedges and mignonette sauce. The wine is a Melon de Bourgogne from Norman Hardie Winery in Prince Edward County, Ontario.