Archive | November, 2009

Rockin’ around the Rock

30 Nov

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony is happening at the Plaza Wednesday.

The glamourous event always heralds the official start of the holiday season for us.

We are suddenly struck with cravings for hot apple or cranberry cider to warm us during frosty evening strolls.

Something even more Manhattan: a cup of luxurious molten chocolate and uber fattening pretzel croissant from City Bakery.

Since we have the next month of rich and fattening treats ahead, we’re going to scale back but still celebrate the start of Christmas in New York.

We’re talking pizza, people. And not just any pizza.

A crunchy, garlicky, broccoli and mozzarella pizza topped with roasted grape tomatoes, a la the season. It’s even red and green, people.

We still swoon with memories from our hot slice from Famiglia Pizzeria on Madison and 97th Street on a cold autumn day.

In a pinch, the spicy broccoli topping works perfectly on whole wheat pita with crunchy results. We like the smaller size, also. This is going to be a long month of parties and goodies, after all. Let’s not get crazy.

One more famous New York treat:

From The Union Square Cafe Cookbook, 1994:
“These nuts won The New York Press award for best bar nuts in New York. Every afternoon at about 4:45, a piping hot batch emerges from our ovens and is sent out to the bar, where the sweet rosemary fragrance wafts throughout the restaurant.”

Union Square Bar Nuts
3 2/3 cups (18-ounces) assorted unsalted nuts: peeled peanuts, cashews, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, and whole unpeeled almonds
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread nuts out on a cookie sheet. Toast in the oven until they become light golden brown, about 10 minutes.
In the large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter.
Thoroughly toss the warm toasted nuts with the spiced butter. Toast for another 5 to 10 minutes. Let them cool but serve warm. In fabulous sterling silver nut bowls, natch.
Yields 5 cups

Compound interest…

30 Nov

tommy bahama butter

Above: Tommy Bahamas Tropical Cafe serves hot, freshly baked pull-apart loaves with sweet cream butter whipped with honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

The possible combinations for compound butter is confounding. Lashings of sweet and savoury spreads for breads, vegetables, seafood, poultry, beef. Herbs, spices, nuts, chilis, sugars, cheese, fruit, dried mushrooms… literally millions of tiny tweaks you can create to invent your own maitre d’ hotel butter.

We adore the idea of sitting down to afternoon tea with friends with a steaming pot of brew and slathering freshly baked scones with strawberry butter.

Or the dreamy cinnamon-nutmeg-honey number we melted on hot sourdough at Tommy Bahamas. So civilized.

Ditto for a lemon-garlic-thyme butter spread under the prised skin of a plump chicken for roasting. Gorgonzola butter melting a top perfectly grilled steak. Dried porcini mushroom and parsley atop a fancy burger. Wasabi pea butter with salmon. Chipotle-bacon butter on a baked potato. Fresh serrano chili and lime glistening on corn.

Stop us!

While we know our adoration for compound butter is dangerous and potentially deadly for our skinny jeans, a little goes a long way.

Shaping your butter mixture into a log and refrigerating until it’s solid enables to you slice off a disc or two for company.

Why we didn’t snap up that baby madeleine pan is beyond us. Imagine little scallop-shaped pats of compound butter for guests. Butter molds can be found at flea markets and good kitchen shops, but the thought of acquiring yet more gadgetry makes us weary. Be creative with what you have. Roll semi-hardened balls of butter down a cheese grater or rasp for texture.

Although, we are also dreaming of lining an elegant ramekin with plastic wrap, filling with soft butter until it solidifies into the perfect shape before removing and sealing tightly in a freezer bag. Thaw by popping the butter back into a room temperature ramekin in time for company.

Neiman Marcus Strawberry Butter
A lovely accompaniment to Neiman Marcus  Monkey Bread, below.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup strawberry preserves
Whip butter in a bowl with electric mixer until fluffy.
Fold in strawberry preserves.
Return to refrigerator and allow butter to solidify.

Neiman Marcus Monkey Bread
“This recipe was the late Helen Corbitt’s contribution of the Mariposa restaurant when Neiman Marcus opened at the Galleria 35 years ago.”
4 small loaves

1 1/2 compressed yeast cakes
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted plus melted butter for dipping
3 1/2 cups flour, sifted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place milk in heavy bottomed pan on low heat.
Stir occasionally until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan and milk is just hot (do not boil) Remove from heat; let cool slightly.
Place yeast and scalded milk in a large bowl.
When yeast is dissolved, stir in sugar, salt and butter.
Add flour; beat well.
Cover and allow dough to rise to almost double (approximately 45 minutes).
After dough has risen, turn out onto lightly floured work surface.
Punch down and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness.
Cut into 2″ diamond shaped pieces.
Dip each piece in melted butter.
Arrange in a 4″ pie pan, 4 or 5 overlapping pieces per loaf.
Allow to rise for 1/2 hour.
Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until brown.
Remove from oven and brush with more of the melted butter.

Miso Butter for vegetables and beef
4 Tbsp salted butter, softened
5 Tbsp white miso
1 1/2 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger

Alton Brown’s Compound Butter
1 pound butter
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon sage, chopped
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped

Dough scraper
Standing mixer
Parchment paper or plastic wrap

Chop the butter into uniform chunks using the dough scraper.

Place the oil into the food processor and add the chives. Process until the chives are finely chopped. Add the remaining herbs and blend until the herbs have colored the oil. Using the whisk attachment, whip the butter in the mixer work bowl at medium speed until it softens and lightens in color, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the herb oil to the butter and beat for another 2 minutes until oil is fully incorporated.

Remove butter from bowl and spoon onto parchment paper or plastic wrap. Roll into a log using the edge of a baking sheet to form a tight log. Chill for 2 hours before serving.

Anchovies aren’t for the faint of heart. But imagine a Caesar salad-style butter, all lemon,garlic, parmesan and black pepper goodness oozing across a grilled chicken or salmon salad.

Or you can follow Nero Wolf’s lead and fry bread triangles in anchovy butter. (8 anchovy fillets 1 juice of 1 lemon -or-
1 oz cognac 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley 1 cup sweet softened butter

Anchovy butter:
•8 tablespoons softened butter
•4 salted anchovy fillets, finely chopped
•2 cloves garlic, finely grated with a Microplane

From Lucy Waverman: Anchovy bread works well with a platter of hors d’oeuvre as well as alongside steak. Substitute 2 tablespoons of anchovy paste for the anchovies if you prefer.


1 baguette

8 finely chopped anchovies

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1/4 cup melted unsalted butter

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Slice baguette lengthwise into 2 and cut each half into long triangular strips. Combine anchovies, garlic and melted butter and brush bread with anchovy butter on the cut side. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Place baguette on grill and grill for 2 minutes or until the bread is browned and parmesan is melting. Serve one slice with each steak serving.

Grey Cup menu

29 Nov

Game day is finally here!

And we’re not the only ones obsessed with football parties.

If you’re looking for some yummy nibblies to serve today, check these out:

Classics here; wings here; potato skins: yummy here:

Skin to Win

20 Nov

We’ve named the potato skin the official football food winner. Portable finger food wins every time. We’ve also tried making skins with sweet potatoes roasted with maple syrup, pecans and comte cheese – divine. But we like this recipe for it’s hot marinara-style dip.


from Eric Akis (canwest photo)

4 large baking potatoes, washed well and dried

2 mild, medium or hot Italian sausages

3 Tablespoon (45 mL) olive oil

2 teaspoon (10 mL) ground oregano

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

150 grams Asiago cheese, grated

2 Tablespoon (30 mL) chopped fresh parsley

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) tomato-based pasta sauce, warmed

Preheat the oven to 375 F (180 C). Prick each potato several times with a fork and set on baking sheet. Bake the potatoes until tender, about 60 minutes. Cool the potatoes to room temperature.

While the potatoes cool, remove the sausage meat from its casing. Place 1 Tablespoon of the oil in a skillet set over medium to medium-high heat. Pull the sausage meat into small, 1/4-inch long pieces and set in the skillet,Cook the pieces of sausage until entirely cooked through, and then drain well, place in a bowl and set aside.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut each potato lengthwise in half. Scoop out enough of the potato flesh to create a half-inch thick shell of skin and flesh. (Refrigerate and reserve the potato you scooped out for another use, such as hash browns).

Cut each half potato, lengthwise, into three wedges. Set the wedges, skin-side-down, on the baking sheet. Brush the potatoes with the remaining olive oil; sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper. Divide and top the potatoes with the cheese and cooked sausage, crumbling the latter into smaller pieces if necessary. (The potatoes could be made to this point several hours in advance of serving. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.)

Bake the potato skins at 375 F (180 C) for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden and the potatoes are well heated through. Arrange the potato skins on a platter and sprinkle with parsley. Serve a bowl of the pasta sauce alongside for dipping.

More Grey Cup Goodies

19 Nov

Although we have our go-to Grey Cup grub, we recently spotted this yummy oh-so-Canadian menu contribution. We are still a bit obsessed with chicken lollypops, but shudder at the thought of scraping down all those slimy wings again.

We haven’t taken these for a spin yet, but they make us think they would be delicious served alongside Buchanan’s  super amazing Lemon-Rosemary and black pepper pan-roasted chicken drumettes (untested clone recipe at bottom).

The crispy, tart, dry, peppery wings would go well with the sticky, spicy maple ones, we suspect.


“This recipe from St. Clair chef Daniele Palanca provides a Great White North twist on chicken wings with maple flavours along with heat from seasonings. The palm sugar ingredient is available from Asian food markets but a favourite brown sugar can be substituted. Recipe makes four servings.’

2-3 lbs chicken wings 1-1.3 kg

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 30 mL

A few dashes of Tabasco, depending on taste preferences

2 tbsp Palm sugar OR brown sugar 30 mL

1/2 cup flour 125 mL

1 cup Canadian maple syrup 250 mL

1/3 cup chili sauce 75 mL

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped 125 mL

2 garlic, cloves minced 2

1/4 to crushed red pepper flakes 1 to

1/2 tsp 2 mL

Cut chicken wings into 3 sections; discard wing tip sections.

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine wings, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, palm sugar and chicken wings. Shake well and refrigerate for as little as an hour and as long as 5 hours. Shake the bag every hour or so.

Drain and discard marinade. Oven bake at 375 F (190 C) for 15 minutes, then remove and set aside to rest, allowing juices to settle.

While the wings are baking, add the remaining ingredients except for flour in a bowl and whisk together. This will act as your sauce. Be aware the sauce will really turn the heat up – perfect for a cold football day.

After the wings cool down, toss them into the flour and deep-fry until crisp. Remove wings and toss them into the sauce for saucy wings or serve the wings crispy and the sauce on the side as a dip.



Buchanan’s copycat

2 1/2 pounds chicken wings, trimmed and halved (trimmed into drumettes if you have it in you!)
2 cups lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning or black pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

Blend all ingredients except chicken wings. Put chicken wings in a bowl. Cover with sauce. Chill at least 12 hours or overnight.

Heat oven broiler. Broil wings on cookie sheet, stirring as needed, until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Serves 8 to 12 as an appetizer.


Grey Cup Runneth Over

11 Nov

It’s the eve of Grey Cup, and we know what that means. Football party. But no Pil and doodles for this crowd on game day.

What’s your favourite football recipe tradition? Let us know.

Here are some of our most time-honoured recipes.


We see a number of similar recipes online calling for additions of, gulp, ranch dressing. What on earth is wrong with you people?

This recipe is best at its simplest.

8  oz. pkg.  cream cheese, softened
2 cups rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, shredded
1/2  cup  Frank’s Redhot Buffalo Wing flavour sauce
1/2  cup  blue cheese dressing
1/2 cup of blue cheese crumbles, or other shredded cheese

Mix well and add to crockpot an hour before serving. We serve with celery and carrot sticks for dipping.


500g/1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup fine bread crumbs, preferably Italian style

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon EACH garlic powder, red chili flakes, black pepper and salt

1/3 cup milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon butter

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/3 cup ketchup

1/4 cup liquid honey

2 tablespoons soya sauce

Mix meat and breadcrumbs in a bowl. Add chopped onion, cilantro, garlic powder, chili pepper flakes, black pepper and salt. Beef may be seasoned and left for an hour or two before proceeding.

Add milk and egg and mix lightly with a fork. Shape into 2.5cm/1-inch balls. Place in a single layer in an ungreased pan and bake at 200C/400F oven for 10 to 12 minutes; drain well.

Melt butter in a saucepan and saute garlic until tender. Add ketchup, honey and soya sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens. Add meat balls to sauce. Return to boil and simmer uncovered for five minutes ensuring all meatballs are glazed.

Serve in a dish with toothpicks.

Makes about 24 to 32 meatballs.

UPDATE just found an updated jalepeno popper version
1/2 red onion, coarsely cut

4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and cut into quarters

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

3 garlic cloves, crushed

6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated

2 tablespoons sambal oelek

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon black pepper

juice of one lime

4 good dashes of Tabasco

2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped

mini pita

Place onion, peppers, cilantro and garlic in food processor and blend until finely chopped but not completely pureed. Add cream cheese and blend briefly to mix.

Turn into a bowl and add next eight ingredients. If mixture does not bind properly, add additional cream cheese. It should not be runny or falling apart.

Stir in cooked and chopped chicken breasts, and adjust seasoning to taste.

Cut mini pitas in half and stuff a little of the mixture into each pocket; it doesn`t take much. Place on tray in a 350F/180C oven for three minutes or until hot and cheese is bubbly. Serve with your favorite salsa or crudites.


30 huge mushrooms (they will shrink when cooked)

1 to 2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 bottle Worcestershire sauce (small for the meek, large for the brave)

3 dashes Tabasco

1/4 cup ground black pepper, fine or coarse

In a large skillet, combine all ingredients except mushrooms. Cover and cook on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce slightly thickens. Add mushrooms, continue stirring for another five to 10 minutes, allowing sauce to penetrate mushrooms and thicken further.

Serve mushrooms, hot or cold, with sauce in a deep serving dish

Halloween apples…

2 Nov

God forbid you should find yourself in the dire circumstance of having too much leftover Halloween candy.

Two ways to make do with it:

: Halloween candy-stuffed apples and Candy Pie. We vote for the former!

Halloween candy stuffed apples

  • 4 medium apples, top 1/2-inch removed
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped toffee candy bar (recommended: Skor)
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped chocolate covered nougat nut candy bar (recommended: Snickers)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped toffee candy bar (recommended: Skor)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped chocolate covered nougat nut candy bar (recommended: Snickers)
  • 3/4 cup soft apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Vanilla ice cream, accompaniment

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using an apple corer and small melon baller, scoop out the stems, cores, and seeds from the apples, leaving the bottoms intact. Cut off the top 1/2-inch of each apple and then stand in a baking dish.

Stuff the roughly chopped candy bars in the apples (2 total tablespoons of candy per apple). Place 1 1/2 teaspoons of butter in each apple on top of the candy. Stuff the finely chopped candy in the apples (2 total tablespoons of candy per apple).

In a bowl, whisk together the cider and sugar. Pour over the apples. Bake uncovered until the apples are tender, 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes.

Place the apples on plates and top each with a scoop of ice cream. Spoon the pan juices over the ice cream and serve immediately.