Archive | January, 2013

WASPs’ Guide to Gastronomy

30 Jan


A new year is bringing with it a new blog recipe theme.GIN

Perhaps it’s our unusual urge to pair pink and green on plate: honeydew melon balls, grapefruit sections with mint sugar; poached salmon with avocado mousse; prosciutto and melon with basil, etc. No matter.

We’re letting our prep colours fly with a collection of classic WASP favourites (but maybe hold off on the terrapin and prune whip).

Whether it’s brunch with bloodies, lunch at the club, parties on the patio, cheese and crackers for dinner, or a proper sitdown affair, we’re posting our beloved and classic prep mainstays.

First up is an elegant take on tomato soup. Prepared tableside from a wheeled trolley, we recall club waiters sauteeing bacon and sliced mushrooms, flambéing the whole works with a splash of gin, and then freeing a mini aspic of tomato and beef consumme from a ramekin to melt into the pan.

Topped with a dollop of cream, it was a rather dramatic affair.

We’ll hold fast to our flambeed version at bottom, but here is an updated version of the same from Banff Centre’s Chef Beat Hegnauer and his famous Gordon’s Gin Tomato Soup recipe from his time at The Four Seasons in Vancouver. It comes from a cookbook exclusively featuring tableside recipes. “Gordon’s has that extra punch, flavour and aroma that is so important to the taste of this recipe.”


Serves roughly 4 people
– 75 g bacon, julienned (cut thinly into strips)
– 50 g butter, cubed
– 200 g mushrooms, sliced
– 1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
– 1 large shallot, finely chopped
– 1 sprig of thyme
– 1kg tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
– 75 ml Gin
– 100 ml whipping cream
– Salt, white pepper, paprika

1. In a pot, cook the bacon until crispy.
2. Add the butter and mushrooms. Sauté until soft.
3. Add the garlic, shallot, sprig of thyme and paprika. Cook for about 4 minutes or until dry.
4. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Add the cream and simmer for 5 minutes.
6. In a small pot, heat the gin and flame.
7. Add the gin to the soup pot.
8. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.
9. Serve.

La Creme de Tomates au Gin Gordon
(from Four Seasons Hotel in 1986)

1/2 clove garlic
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup sliced, fresh mushrooms
1 tomato, blanched and diced
2 ounces bacon, cut julienne
2 ounces Gordon’s gin
3 cups freshly made tomato soup
1/4 cup half and half
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp Cafe de Paris butter (recipe follows)

Saute onions, garlic and bacon in Cafe de Paris butter over low flame until onions are glossy and bacon is cooked. Add mushrooms and sweat for 1 minute; add diced tomato; add gin and flambé. Add tomato soup and cream and simmer for 5 minutes.
Season and serve.

Cafe de Paris butter
1 lb sweet butter
dash each of cognac, madeira wine, white wine and Worchestershire sauce
Squirt of lemon juice
1/2 onion, grated
1 anchovy fillet, mashed
1/4 tsp chopped parsley
1/8 tsp dry mustard
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/8 tsp each of tarragon, rosemary, thyme, paprika and cayenne pepper
3 egg yolks
1/8 tsp salt.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Freeze and use by the tablespoon when needed.



30 Jan


A quick duck into a Sally Ann thrift shop has resulted in these babies, at .99 cents each: Reed and Barton Paul Revere bowls.

They might be finger bowls, but one look and I see cocktail nut bowls.

Or tiny, beautiful bouquets. Woot!

Perfect for those addictive Union Square bar nuts.

Health Nut Cookies

18 Jan

nutri cookies
Any time spent in the mountains requires something substantial. We love our famous hiking sammie and Evelyn’s cranberry cookies, but we really love the idea of these crunchy nut cookies.

Adapted from The Heartland Cafe Cookbook

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
(original recipe calls for 1/8 cup buttermilk)
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour (original recipe calls for a cup of white and cup of whole wheat)
2 cups old fashioned (large flakes) oats
1/3 cups oat bran
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate (we used 2 large Lindt dark choc orange)
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup sunflower, sesame and/or pumpkin seeds (I used all!)
(some add 1/2 cup dried fruit like raisins or apricots)

Preheat the oven to 325F. In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar for a few minutes, until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

Add the (buttermilk if using) flour, oats, oat bran, baking soda, baking powder and salt; stir or mix on low speed until almost blended. Add the chocolate, nuts and seeds and stir just until combined.

Drop 1/3 cup scoops onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet; flatten each to 1/2-inch thick with your hand.

This is where we froze most of these. Makes it easy to bake a batch Sunday to nibble for breakfast over the next few days.

nutri cookies 2

Bake for 20 minutes, until pale golden around the edges and set, but still soft in the middle. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 1 1/2 dozen large cookies.

nutri cookies 3

Best Stir-fried Chicken

17 Jan

This is pungent! Great flavour, but not for the faint of heart.

Gwenyth Paltrow
serves four

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into small cubes
2 tbsp cornstarch
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup peeled and minced garlic
1/4 cup peeled and minced ginger
1/2 cup minced green scallions (white & green parts)
Pinch red chili flakes (optional)
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Toss the chicken with cornstarch, a large pinch of salt and quite a bit of pepper. 

Heat oil in large, non-stick wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions and chile flakes (if using) and cook, stirring, for one minute. 

Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.

Add the vinegar, sugar, and five or six grinds of black pepper.

Boil on high for three minutes, or until the sugar has caramelized and the whole mixture is dark brown and sticky and lovely.

Add the soy sauce, and cook for another 30 seconds. Serve immediately over fried rice (recipe below), sprinkled with cilantro. 
Fried Rice with Kale and Scallions
serves four

1/2 pound kale, stems discarded
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
3 large scallions, cut into 1/8-inch diagonal slices
2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp soy sauce

Cut the kale leaves in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into very thin ribbons (chiffonade). Steam the kale for 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.

Add the garlic and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly, being careful not to brown the garlic.

Raise the heat to medium and add the steamed kale and scallions.

Cook for two minutes and then add the rice and cook for another two minutes, stirring.

Add the soy sauce and cook for 30 seconds more.