Archive | December, 2013

Throwback New Year’s

31 Dec

We are so excited to report that Ruth has shared a much requested recipe for pastissio here.

To celebrate, here’s a little Seventeen magazine throwback from New Year’s 1985.

A little mocktail, fettucini Noel, and chocolate fondue, anyone?

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New Year’s Beef

27 Dec

Skating WaiterOne of my favourite New Year’s Eve parties was an evening spent with friends skating and tobogganing behind the Banff Springs Hotel. When the gang walked into our place for dinner afterward, the heavenly aroma of roast beef filled the air. It was my first go trying Best of Bridge’s Unattended Roast Beef, and it worked like a charm. I stuffed garlic cloves into the roast beforehand, and it was a great addition. Everyone made their own sandwiches with horseradish cream, grainy mustard mayo, and caramelized onions.

Word for word, this is the recipe for an 8 to 14 lb rolled rib roast, bones removed:

“Preheat oven to 500F. Sprinkle roast liberally with pepper, salt and garlic powder. Place on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes at 500F, then turn oven down to lowest setting. Leave for 8 hours. DO NOT PEEK. Tape oven door so you won’t forget not to peek. Before serving, turn oven to 350F for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let rest.”

That menu was such a hit, I stopped looking at other beef on a bun recipes until this doozy caught my eye at Stampede time:


This recipe by Stephen Gilmour, executive chef at Red Tree Catering and Kitchen, calls for pumpkin seed kaiser buns, which he recommends buying from Charlie’s Bakery on Kensington Road in the city’s northwest. The bakery’s poppy seed or sesame seed varieties are good choices, too.

1 cup (250 mL) dried cranberries

1/4 cup (50 mL) 5 peppercorn spice

1 tsp (5 mL) water

sea or kosher salt

11/4 lb (625 g) beef tenderloin, cut into 4 medallions

4 pumpkin seed kaiser buns

4 small handfuls mesclun greens

Gorgonzola Cream (see recipe below)

2 oz (54 g) crumbled gorgonzola

To make the cranberry pepper, preheat oven to 350 degreesF (180 degrees C). Combine dried cranberries and peppercorns with water and bake for 15 minutes. (This toasts the peppercorns for a nutty, smoky flavour, and further dries out the cranberries so they’ll crumble easily.) If you can, let the mixture dry overnight. If you are pressed for time, let cool for 3 hours. Once cool, grind the mix in a clean coffee grinder. Stored in an airtight container, it will keep for several months in your pantry.

Season the beef with salt and press 3/4 cup (175 mL) of the cranberry pepper into the meat all over. Retain the last 1/4 cup (50 mL) of the cranberry pepper for sprinkling at the end. Grill to desired doneness on a medium-hot barbecue. Allow meat to rest for five minutes and slice into pieces as thin as possible.

To serve, slice open the buns and brush the insides with a little olive oil and then rub with a garlic clove. Toast in the oven.

Put mesclun greens and sliced beef on the toasted buns. Liberally spoon on about 2 tbsp (25 mL) of the gorgonzola cream in each bun and garnish with the crumbled gorgonzola.

Serves 4.

Gorgonzola Cream

1/2 cup (125 mL) gorgonzola

1/2 cup (125 mL) mayonnaise

1/2 cup (125 mL) sour cream

juice and zest of one lemon

2 green onions, finely chopped

dash Tabasco sauce

fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined. Makes about 11/2 cups (675 mL).

Hashing out the Holidays

17 Dec


We’re not sure where we get our delusion of grandeur, but for New Year’s parties, our thoughts turn to Gatsby era ideals: buttery oyster toast or oysters Rockefeller and plenty of bubbly.

And there’s always Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball favourite, chicken hash. Served as a midnight supper, this would look rather smashing served in a silver chafing dish.

4 cups finely diced cooked chicken (white meat only)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup cream sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup dry Sherry
1/2 cup Hollandaise Sauce
Mix chicken, cream, Cream Sauce and seasonings in a heavy skillet. Cook over moderate heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes.
When moisture is slightly reduced, place skillet in a moderate oven, 350 degrees, and bake 30 minutes.
Stir in Sherry and return to oven for 10 minutes. Lightly fold in Hollandaise Sauce and serve at once.
Makes 4-5 servings.

Recipe adapted from James Sakatos of the Café Carlyle.

One 3-to-4-pound kosher chicken Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup medium-dry sherry 1 cup heavy cream 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth 1/2 teaspoon truffle oil (optional) 4 ounces duck-liver mousse (optional) Slices of white bread, toasted, for serving.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and roast until its juices run clear, 60 to 70 minutes. Let cool. Remove the skin and meat from the bones. Cut the breast meat into cubes. Shred the thigh and leg meat and, if feeling very uptown, reserve for another use. Otherwise, use along with breast meat.

In a large saucepan, reduce the sherry by half over high heat. Add the cream, chicken broth and truffle oil, if using, and boil over high heat, stirring constantly, to reduce by half again, about 10 minutes.

Add the chicken meat and blobs of the duck-liver mousse, if using, to the reduction and bring to a light simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot with toast points.



2 chicken breasts, broiled 2 slices bacon, crisply fried and crumbled 1/2 small onion, chopped Salt and pepper to taste 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice 2 tablespoons butter 1 teaspoon dry sherry 2 tablespoons sour cream

Cut chicken into thin strips. Combine chicken, bacon, onion, salt, pepper, lemon juice and butter in skillet. Cook until onion is tender. Stir in sherry and sour cream. Cook just until heated. Serve immediately.


Bruise one small anchovy fine and take two dozen oysters and cast off their beards. Chop the oysters fine with a silver knife and put with the anchovy in the chafing dish. Mix both together with sufficient cream to give it a pleasing consistency. Heat well, stirring all the time. Have ready some buttered toast, and serve the hot oysters on these rounds. Eat in solemn silence, and wash down with brown sherry.”


Adapted from Melissa Clark, New York Times, 5/16/07

1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, or a mix of wild mushrooms such as morels, shiitakes, oysters or chanterellas
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, more for toast
1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons dry white wine or white vermouth
1/4 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Slices brioche or good white bread, crusts cut off if desired
1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives
Coarse sea salt such as fleur de sel or Maldon, for garnish

Clean excess dirt from mushrooms. Slice mushrooms in half lengthwise and brush away any grit; chop into 1/4-inch pieces.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until very limp, about three minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, for about five minutes. Add wine, reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for about five minutes more. (There are a lot of “abouts” on the cooking times because I found that mine took less time at each step; however, I also may have chopped my mushrooms and shallots smaller than the recommended size.)

Uncover pot and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about two minutes. Stir in cream; simmer until slightly thickened, two minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toast bread and spread with butter. (Clark recommended four slices of brioche, to make eight toasts, but I had enough mushrooms for almost triple that.) Cut each slice in half diagonally and sprinkle lightly with chives. Top each toast triangle with some mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with additional chives, garnish with sea salt, and serve.

Nuts and Bolts

17 Dec


Another Christmas entertaining tradition: a roaster full of nuts and bolts. Seasoned cereal, pretzels and nuts are a great party snack mix, and even better to package up and give as gifts.

We’ve enjoyed these since the 1970s, they really are an addictive nibble. But we must confess, the sweeter nut and pretzel mix at bottom has caught our eye, and we’re keen to give the smoky paprika and cocoa powder mixture a try.

Recipe from The Best of Bridge Grand Slam

1 lb. butter
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. onion salt
1 1/2 tsp. celery salt
4 cups “Cheerios”
4 cups “Life” cereal (corn chex)
4 cups “Shreddies” or “Wheat Chex”
2 boxes pretzel sticks
2 cups peanuts
1 box “bugels”
1 box cheese nips or cheese bites (the fingerling shapes)

Heat oven to 250 F. Place butter in very large roaster and put in oven to melt butter while oven in preheating. Add all ingredients and stir well to coat evenly with butter. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Stir every 1/2 hour.

Recipe from David Lebovitz, The Sweet Life in Paris

2 cups nuts — (200 gr) any combination of cashews, whole almonds, peanuts, pecan halves, and hazelnuts
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt — (optional)
2 cups pretzels

Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and roast in a 350° oven for 10 minutes, stirring once for even toasting. (For easy cleanup use foil underneath.)

In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, paprika, and maple syrup.
Add the warm nuts, stirring until coated. Then mix in the pretzels, and stir until the nuts and pretzels are completely coated.
Spread the mixture back on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 15 minutes, stirring twice during cooking. Remove from oven and cool completely, separating the nuts and pretzels as they cool. Once cool, add salt (if desired). This mixture can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

Momofuko Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi’s Rosemary Nuts

1 pound raw unsalted nuts of your choice

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

⅓ cup packed light-brown sugar

3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Spread the nuts evenly on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes or until fragrant and beginning to brown. Transfer the nuts to a large bowl (set the baking sheet aside).

Mix the butter with the sugar, rosemary, and salt, pour it over the warm nuts, and toss with a wooden spoon. Spread the nuts back on the baking sheet and let them cool on the counter for 30 minutes, or until all elements have solidified and cooled. Serve at room temperature