Archive | December, 2010

Leftover bubbles

31 Dec

There may come an absurd day when we become one of those people who suffer from having leftover Champagne, and choose not to slug it back in mimosas on New Year’s Day.

These two recipes call for the tail end of a bottle, and sound quite good.

Blue Flame Kitchen
1/4 cup (50 mL) flour

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt, divided

1/2 tsp (2 mL) freshly ground pepper, divided

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks

2 tbsp (25 mL) butter

2 tbsp (25 mL) oil

3/4 cup (175 mL) champagne

1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream

1/2 tsp (2 mL) tarragon, crumbled

1 cup (250 mL) seedless red grapes, halved

Combine flour and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt and pepper in a large plastic bag. Add chicken to flour mixture and toss to coat.

Melt butter with oil in a large nonstick frypan over medium heat. Add chicken in batches and saute until golden brown and cooked through.

Transfer chicken to a plate. Add champagne to pan. Bring to a boil, scraping to loosen browned bits. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pan. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.

Stir in cream, tarragon and remaining 1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt and pepper.

Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in grapes; cook for 1 minute.

Serves 6.


“This is another simple dish that can be prepared in advance and put in the oven as your guests enjoy the appetizer. I believe in the principle of eating fish once or twice a week. But I notice lots of unpracticed cooks are intimidated by the notion of preparing fish, especially whole, so I’m always on the lookout for quick and easy preparations. You can substitute flounder, sole, monkfish, salmon, cod, bass, or swordfish for the halibut in this recipe. The cooking time will be shorter with lighter fish, such as sole, and longer with meatier fish, such as swordfish

Mireille Guiliano
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 fillets of halibut, about 4 ounces each
1/2 cup Champagne (Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut recommended)
8 sprigs fresh thyme
8 thin lemon slices
8 sprigs parsley
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Cut 8 pieces of parchment paper (or aluminum foil) into squares large enough to cover each fish fillet and leave a 2-inch border all around. Lightly brush 4 squares of the paper with olive oil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Put each halibut fillet in the center of an oiled square and drizzle with Champagne. Add 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 lemon slices, 2 parsley sprigs, and 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds to each piece of fish. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Place the remaining parchment squares on top of the fillets and fold up the edges to form packets. Simply double folding each of the four sides is enough to seal each packet. Put the papillotes on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Serve by setting each papillote on a plate. Let your guests open their packets and spoon the juices over the fish. Voilà drama as well as flavor!

N.B. You can use dry white wine or vermouth instead of champagne.


Lobby Lobster

31 Dec
From butter poached lobster tails to...

From butter poached lobster tails to…

... creamy lobster risotto.

… creamy lobster risotto.

White wine, lobster, cheese, butter. What’s not to love?

Now refill my bubbles and let’s eat!

We are still monkeying around with lobster risotto: considering adding saffron, cognac and browning the butter as we poach the lobster tails.

Lobster Risotto
A luxurious dish from Rouge’s Paul Rogalski. Perfect to warm them up on a cold winter night.

Serves 6

1/4 cup-olive oil
2 cups -lobster meat, cooked and diced
12-mushrooms, thickly sliced
2-tablespoons brandy
1/4-cup shallots, roughly chopped
2 cups-Arborio rice
1 cup-white wine
6 cups -broth (lobster, chicken or vegetable)
Salt and pepper-to taste
6 ounces-goat cheese
2 tablespoons-chive, finely cut

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan. Stir in mushrooms, and cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Add lobster meat and cook for 1 minute. Raise heat, stir in brandy and cook, stirring, for one more minute. Remove from heat, and set aside for future use.
Heat remaining olive oil in a large saucepan. Stir in shallots and cook over medium heat until shallots are translucent. Add rice and stir continuously until all grains are coated and rice is shiny, about two minutes.
Stir in white wine. Cook, stirring for two minutes. Stir in half the lobster broth and continue to cook, stirring continuously.
When broth is absorbed, add remaining broth one cup at a time. When all liquid is absorbed, check rice for tenderness. If tender, gently fold in the lobster and mushroom mix and the cheese. Place in serving dish and sprinkle with chives. Serve while hot!

Colonial curry? Bully for you!

28 Dec


We’re still on a curry kick, but this time with some west coast-inspired recipes we’ve been hoarding. fall2010-042

The ultra elegant Fairmont Empress has been serving a curry buffet in its Colonial Bengal Lounge for years.

Among the stout, bubbling pots of butter chicken, coconut curry lamb, tandoori chicken, vegetarian curry, saffron basmati rice, spinach bhajias or lentil bonda is a selection of mango chutney, tomato salsa, cucumber raita, sultanas, peanuts, and shredded coconut.
bengal salad

And don’t get us started about the cardamom creme brulee.bengal apple
We missed out on the cardamom apple pies. Boo.

The window table we sat at above.

Luckily, we snagged this Bengal recipe out of the newspaper archives:


The chefs at Victoria’s Empress Hotel use this versatile curry sauce in meals served in the Bengal Lounge.

For the curry sauce
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp minced ginger
1 onion, chopped
sesame oil to taste
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 14 oz. tin coconut milk
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

For the seafood
16 peeled prawns
3/4 pound snapper fillet,
cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup water
16 mussels, rinsed
16 clams, rinsed
For garnish

– lime wedges and fresh mint sprigs

Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add spices (except chili flakes), garlic, ginger and onions; cook, stirring, until the latter is tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients; simmer 15 minutes. Mix cornstarch with water, then whisk into curry sauce. Bring sauce back to a simmer to cook the starch.

Add snapper and prawns to curry sauce; simmer until both cooked, about 5 minutes. In another pan bring water to boil. Add clams; cook covered 2 minutes, then add mussels. Cook until both just begin to open. With a slotted spoon, lift out clams and mussels; arrange on serving platter. Spoon over curry sauce. Garnish with lime wedges, mint sprigs. Serve with steamed rice. Serves 4 to 6.

bengal hot

Another recipe from the Bengal Lounge for Pacific Flavours:

empress curry

And how about this amazing 1908 cocktail and short-rib poutine?


Cocktail: The 1908

A ‘Must Have’ When Visiting Victoria. Empress Blend 1908 Tea Infused Vodka, Fresh Lemon Juice, Lightly Sweetened And Frothy Egg Whites.

1 1/2 oz tea-infused vodka

3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

3/4 oz simple syrup

3/4 oz egg whites

To make tea-infused vodka, add 4 tea bags to a 40 oz bottle of your favourite vodka and let stand for 4 to 5 hours.

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and serve in a martini glass garnished with a strip of lemon peel.

Appetizer: Braised Short Rib Poutine

“The 1908 cocktail goes great with curry but we also love pairing it with our braised short rib poutine,” says Pearce.

Braised Short Rib

350 to 400 grams boneless short ribs

1 large carrot

3 large onions

3 stalks celery

100 mL tomato paste

250 mL red wine

2 litres beef stock

Heat a generous glug of vegetable oil in a medium frying over medium heat and sear short ribs on all sides.

Remove short ribs to roasting pan, and sauté carrot, onion and celery.

Add tomato paste, stirring well to combine.

Add vegetable mixture to roasting pan.

Deglaze frying pan with red wine and add liquid to roasting pan along with stock.

Ensure ribs are submerged in braising liquid.

Cook in pre-heated 300F oven until beef is tender (easily shreds when pulled apart with two forks), about 4 to 5 hours.

Remove beef to separate container and shred into bite size pieces

Strain cooking liquid and pour into medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until thickened.


454 g cheese curd

900 g french fries, deep-fried is best but baked in the oven will also work

Serve fries in a bowl, topped with cheese curds, braised beef and sauce


We also have high praise for the Bengal Lounge’s signature butter chicken. It was lovely — not at all that orangey, too-sweet tomato soupy version.

Here’s hoping this is close to what we enjoyed so much!

by Executive Chef Kamal Silva, The Fairmont Empress

Serves 5

1kg fresh tomatoes
220gm (almost a cup) peeled tomatoes
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp garlic
1 green chili
1 1/2 tsp. coriander stem
2 tbsp red onion
2 heaping tbsp red bell pepper
2 pinches green cardamom
1 pinch black cardamom
1 pinch cloves
3 bay leaves
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp paprika powder
over 1/2 cup water
100 ml oil
1 1/2 more tbsp ginger garlic paste
300 ml cream
50g (over 3 tbsp) butter
1 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
3 tbsp garam masala
salt and honey

Wash and quarter tomatoes, clean and slice ginger, garlic, green chilies, onion, bell pepper.

Put all the ingredients together with peeled tomatoes, whole spices, paprika and water, in a large pot and cook for three hours on medium heat or till fresh tomatoes are all mashed up.

Blend and strain.

Heat oil in heavy bottom pot and sauté ginger garlic paste till golden.

Add the puree and cook over slow medium fire for two hours, stirring in between.

Start to add the cream and butter slowly, cook till the right consistency.

Finish with garam masala and kasoori methi and season with salt and honey.

Turkey Curry Buffet

28 Dec

“I realize that when I met you at the turkey curry buffet, I was unforgivably rude… and wearing a reindeer jumper.” Mark Darcy, Bridget Jones’ Diary

The moment we watched Bridget Jones subjected to an annual New Year’s Day turkey curry buffet, we were hooked on the idea. Those Brits do love their saucy curries. Chicken Tikka Masala is their national dish, after all.

EVIDENCE! The case for turkey curry via the New York Times, Nov. 25, 1887 ancient colonial curry.

"Mmmm. Turkey curry... my favourite."

"Mmmm. Turkey curry... my favourite."

New York Times
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1 cup tomatoes, chopped (canned are fine; include their juice)
1 cup coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound fresh spinach, trimmed of thick stems, washed and roughly chopped
2 cups leftover turkey, white or dark meat or a combination, roughly chopped
Freshly chopped cilantro for garnish.
1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; add onion, garlic and ginger and cook until they begin to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne and cook, stirring, until spices are fragrant, about another minute.
2. Add tomatoes and their juices and coconut milk and sprinkle with salt and pepper; bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until tomatoes break down.
3. Add spinach and turkey to pan and continue to cook until spinach wilts and turkey is warmed through, another 3 to 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning, garnish with cilantro and serve.
Yield: 4 servings.

600g cooked turkey, chopped into chunks
1 tablespoon turkey dripping
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 heaped tablespoon Sharwood’s Hot Curry Powder (for Madras)
725ml hot stock (or less)
1 medium dessert or Bramley apple, cored and chopped
25g sultanas
1 heaped tablespoon mango chutney
small container of coconut milk
juice of half a lemon, at least.

Heat the dripping and fry the onion and celery over a medium heat, tossing them around till softened and well browned at the edges, then add the garlic and toss that around for a minute.
Now stir in the flour, turmeric, ginger and curry powder to soak up all the juices, and after that gradually stir in the stock. When the sauce begins to bubble add the apple, sultanas, mango chutney and grated coconut, plus some seasoning.
Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and let it cook for 30 minutes.
After that, add the turkey pieces and a squeeze of lemon juice, stir well, put a lid on and simmer gently for a further 10 minutes to reheat the turkey.
Serve with basmati rice, poppadoms, mango chutney and lime pickle.

New Year’s ideas

27 Dec

Seafood dumplings, baby duck -- optional

Seafood dumplings, baby duck -- optional

For New Year’s Eve, our thoughts turn to a wintery outdoor activity followed by a cozy night in with friends.

We swoon for trendy Asian bites or our still as yet unfilled dreams of chicken hash or creamed sherried mushrooms on toast points with Champagne.

How about steam baskets of seafood dumplings (above. And yes, they were amazing. Baby Duck joke bottle unopened, FYI), chicken and green onion yakitori on skewers, and these babies:

Thai Beef Rolls with Sweet Chili Sauce
Click here to see how amazing they look!
For the sauce:
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onions
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons Sriracha

For the filling:
1 pound ground chuck (80% lean)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped Thai chilis
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 bunch of Thai basil
12 wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes

Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl until the sugar has dissolved.

2. In a large bowl, gently combine the ground chuck with the rest of the filling ingredients.

3. Shape a tablespoon of the filling into a small log. Wrap 1 basil leaf around the beef and thread onto a skewer. Repeat until all of the filling is gone.

4. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals out evenly over the charcoal grate. Clean and oil the cooking grate. Grill the rolls until the filling is fully cooked and slightly firm, about 6 to 8 minutes, turning once during cooking. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.
New York Times Published: May 4, 2005
Time: 1 hour for soaking skewers, plus 45 minutes for preparation and grilling

1½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
1 large bunch scallions, 1 reserved, others trimmed and cut into 1½-inch lengths
1 cup soy sauce
¾ cup sugar
½ cup mirin
1 clove garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
1 ¼-inch slice of fresh ginger, lightly crushed
1 ½-inch-by-2-inch strip lemon zest
Vegetable oil to brush on grill
Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish.

1. Soak 16 6-inch bamboo skewers in cold water for 1 hour, then drain.

2. Rinse chicken under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into uniform 1½-inch pieces. On each skewer, thread alternating pieces of chicken and scallions, pressing them together. Cover and refrigerate until ready to grill.

3. Lightly crush white part of reserved scallion. Slice green part into thin rings and reserve. In a small saucepan, combine soy sauce, sugar, mirin, scallion white, garlic, ginger and lemon zest. Place over medium heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until syrupy, 5 to 10 minutes. Strain into small bowl and cool to room temperature. If desired, reserve some as a dipping sauce.

4. Heat a grill or hibachi. Brush and oil grill rack, and place yakitori on grill so that ends of skewers are not over direct heat. Sear meat by continually turning skewers for about 2 minutes. Baste with sauce and turn occasionally until chicken is cooked, 8 to 10 minutes. When chicken is done it should feel firm and be coated with a shiny glaze.

5. To serve, place skewers on a platter and sprinkle with scallion rings and sesame seeds. If desired, serve reserved sauce in a small bowl as a dipping sauce.

Yield: 4 to 6 appetizer servings or 4 main course servings.

New Year’s dumplings

27 Dec
seafood dumplings

seafood dumplings

New Year’s Eve is coming and there’s one thing we know for certain: we want to master the mothertrucker out of seafood dumplings.

What could be more lovely than pinching chopsticks around some luxurious lobster or scallop potstickers and washing them down with bubbly pinot grigio or a Marlborough sauvignon blanc?

A ginger sesame dipping sauce is mandatory. But how about a chardonnay/lemongrass buerre blanc or sake-scented ponzu sauce? We’ve also seen them deep fried and served with mayonnaise, but unless it is a lemon/sesame/ginger number, we’re terrified by it.

1 pound rock shrimp, diced
1 pound Chilean sea bass, diced
1 pound bay scallops, diced
1 egg
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and white pepper

In a food processor, add shrimp, bass, scallops, egg, ginger, and sesame oil. Pulse only a little bit to bring ingredients together. Transfer to a large bowl and fold in scallions and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.

LA TimesMarch 05, 2008
Servings: 8 (makes 32 dumplings)

1/2 pound peeled, cleaned medium Pacific shrimp

1/2 pound sea scallops

1/2 pound fresh Dungeness crab meat

1/4 cup chopped garlic or regular chives

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry

2 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

Pinch freshly ground white pepper

1 egg white

About 32 round dumpling wrappers

Peanut oil if frying, or oil for greasing the steamer rack

1. Mince the shrimp and scallops almost into a paste. Place in a shallow bowl and add the crab, garlic or chives, ginger, sherry, soy sauce, sugar, white pepper and egg white. Mix well.

2. To stuff the dumplings, mound about 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of each wrapper, and brush the outer edges lightly with water to moisten. Fold the wrapper in half, into a half-moon shape, then pinch it together at the center of the top edge. Pleat the edges of the wrapper to enclose the filling. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.

3. To pan-fry the dumplings, heat a 10-inch skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl the pan. When the oil is hot, lay 8 to 10 of the dumplings into the pan, leaving room between each, and cook until the bottoms just start to brown, about 2 minutes. Add one-third cup water and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pan and cook until the dumplings are soft on top, crisp on the bottom and the filling is firm, 5 to 7 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.

4. To steam the dumplings, use a steamer of your choice, and bring 1 to 2 inches of water to a simmer (make sure the water level does not reach the bottom of the steamer). Lightly grease the steamer rack, and place the dumplings on the rack about 1 inch apart from one another (the dumplings will need to be cooked in batches). Place the steamer over the simmering water and cover. Steam the dumplings until the filling is firm and the wrapper is slightly translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the steamer from the water, and gently remove the dumplings to a warm place until all of the dumplings are cooked. Serve warm with a dipping sauce.


LOBSTER DUMPLINGS2 each 1½ pound lobsters, cooked and meat removed
¼ cup water chestnuts, minced
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoons dry sherry
3 each scallions, minced
½ teaspoon sesame oil
½ cup canola oil

Pick the meat from lobsters and reserve the shells for the dipping sauce. Finely chop meat or process briefly in a food processor. Mince the water chestnuts and then combine with ingredients.

2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Zest and juice of one lemon

2/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons sweet butter, cut into small cubes

1/2 pound lobster meat, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup sliced chives or scallions
2 tablespoons ginger, minced finely
1 clove garlic, minced finely
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 package wonton skins
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Place scallops, salt, pepper, and lemon zest and juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse these ingredients together a few times. With machine running, slowly add the olive oil and continue processing until the mixture is smooth.

Add the butter and process until smooth again. Remove the mixture from the food processor and fold in the remaining ingredients.
To assemble the dumplings, lay out several of the wonton wrappers on a flat surface and brush the edges with the beaten egg mixture.
Place a small amount of the lobster/scallop filling in the middle of each wonton wrapper and fold the wrapper over the filling and carefully seal the edges of the dumpling.

150g Peeled Prawns, diced
150g Scallops, diced
100g Crabmeat, picked
2 Stalk Scallions, finely chopped
½ tsp Minced Ginger
1 tsp Soy Sauce
¼ tsp Sesame Oil
½ tsp Sugar
¼ Sea Salt
A few dashes White Pepper
½ of Egg White (about 2 Tbsp)
1 tsp Corn flour

1 Packet (about 50 pcs) Dumpling Wrappers


Petal Pizza

27 Dec

Of all the appetizers we gorged on Christmas Eve, the prettiest was this artichoke heart petals and green olive pizza.

The other bites of super-yum were little toasts of melted gorgonzola, drizzled with honey. Divine!

Bruschetta with Gorgonzola Cheese and Honey
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
.•36 slices (1/2-inch thick) baguette bread, about 1 loaf
•1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
•8 ounces Gorgonzola, sliced
•3 tablespoons honey
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Arrange the sliced baguette on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil. Bake until the bread is pale golden and crisp, about 10 minutes.

Arrange the cheese on the toasts and bake until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.

Drizzle the toasts with honey. Place on a serving platter and serve immediately.