Sunday, December 31, 2017

Pasta alla Norma- Eggplant heaven!

I don't know who Norma was but she sure inspired a great pasta sauce.  My great friend Gaby introduced me to pasta alla Norma in Kelowna a few years ago.  I missed this dish... If you love eggplant, try this out.

Pasta alla Norma served with tomato basil bruschetta.
Serves two generously.  Can be doubled.

Tortilla española - great for tapas, dinner, brunch. It's just plain great!

My wonderful Venezuelan friend Aymara sang the praises of the famous tortilla espanola.  My thanks to her for introducing me to this wonderful national dish of Spain.  It seems there are dozens of versions out there.  My recipe is a collage of many recipes and suggestions.

I used less olive oil than usually suggested.  I cooked the potatoes slowly in the oil, making sure to move the slices, ensuring they remain separate and do not brown too much.  I cooked them "half way" to ensure the potatoes remain intact when the dish is served.

To serve four as a main course or many more as an hors d'oeuvre.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Pork & Shrimp Wonton Soup

For me, making wontons is a labour of love.  I gather all my ingredients, find a comfortable, scenic spot (or the television) and get to work at a leisurely pace.  These are not the usual wontons from the neighbourhood Chinese takeout- these have flavour and crunch.  They are both beautiful and tasty!

I make five or six dozen, freeze them in bags to hold one dozen each, ready for soup or deep-frying or steaming. So many possibilities.

To make about three litres of broth and approx, five dozen wontons.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Pulled chicken, lime and tortilla soup

This is one of Guy Fieri's recipes, with a few added touches.  I decided to roast a whole chicken, marinaded overnight, then added black beans and corn to the soup base.  Delicious!

This recipe will serve six.

Rigatoni and Cauliflower at Forno

Oven roasted cauliflower, boldly seasoned with garlic, sage and a few red pepper flakes, combined with rigatoni and cheese, topped with bread crumbs- a made in heaven dish!

This recipe is adapted from a New York Times article on cauliflower... an "ode" to a deserving

To serve 4-6.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

My Favourite Meatballs

I used to make these meatballs with my teenage daughter, back in the day!  She now makes her own for her "boys".  These are my go to meatballs for all occasions and for a fast and easy dinner.  Make extra and keep on hand in the freezer.

Simmered in marinara sauce.
Breaded and baked in the oven.  

Makes approximately 15 meatballs.

The Ultimate Greek Moussaka

I love moussaka, but finding the best recipe was a challenge.  Luckily, I found an article all about moussaka- deconstructed and rebuilt into the ultimate dish!  With a few of my changes, this moussaka is amazing.  This meat version can easily be converted to a vegetarian version by substituting the meat with lentils, green and brown lentils... very healthy!  Here goes...

Serves 4, generously

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Curried Butternut Squash Salad

I am always looking for new lunchtime ideas.  This salad is delicious, nutritious and so easy to prepare.  I just love the roasted butternut squash, the curried dressing, healthy kale and toasted nuts- all the high notes in my kitchen!

To serve two


This is one recipe you want to make in a big batch.  Bonus, it gets better as it ages.  So when you need a burst of Sicilian summer goodness, just add a little caponata to crostini, chicken or your favourite sandwich.

Makes enough to serve four to six.

1 large     eggplant, cut into one-inch chunks
Olive oil
Kosher salt
2             onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
pinch of crushed red pepper
3 ribs       celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 bulb      fennel, cut into 1/2-inch dice
6 cloves   garlic, thinly sliced
1             red pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1             yellow pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2             zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tbsp     sugar
1/3 cup   red wine vinegar
1/2 cup   tomato paste
1/4 cup   pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup   golden raisins
1/2 cup   large green Sicilian olives, pitted and slivered
2 tbsp     capers

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Put the eggplant in a large bowl and toss generously with olive oil and salt.  Spread the eggplant in an even layer on a baking sheet, transfer to the oven and roast until soft and brown, 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and reserve.

Generously coat a large, wide, deep pot with olive oil.  Toss in the onions and season with salt and crushed red pepper.  Bring the pan to medium-high heat and cook until the onions are soft and very aromatic, five to six minutes.  Add the celery and fennel, season with salt and cook until soft, seven to eight minutes.  Toss in the garlic and cook for another two to three minutes.

Toss in the red and yellow bell peppers and cook for five to six minutes.  Add the zucchini, stir to combine and cook until the zucchini softens, seven to eight more minutes.  If the pot seems dry and is starting to burn, reduce the heat and add a few drops of olive oil and about 1/2 cup water.  Toss in the roasted eggplant.

In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar and add to the pan.  Stir in the tomato paste.  Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.  The sugar and vinegar will make things tangy.

Toss in the pine nuts, raisins, olives, and capers and cook for another ten to twelve minutes.  Add a little more water if the mixture seems dry, then taste to make sure everything is delicious.  Let cook and serve at room temperature.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Candied Chiles- these are cool!

A new favourite for my pantry.  This recipe comes from Mrs Wheelbarrow's Pantry- a favourite preserving book.  I have made candied jalapeños and candied red chiles- both turned out great!

These can be searingly hot, depending on the chiles your choose.  Serve them as a snack with your favourite cheese, add to your favourite dishes, garnish a cocktail.

Candied jalapeños with a little Siempre added to the syrup.  

This recipe makes four 500ml jars.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Brinjal (eggplant) Pickle Relish- A must for your Indian Pantry!

I have been making this relish for years!  It is a favourite with my friends who have added it to pasta (thank you Beryl), to rice and served it with their Indian dinners.

Added bonus- your kitchen will smell wonderful!

This recipe makes 500 ml.  Feel free to double or triple it.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Kosher Dills- Fermentation at its best!

This is the simplest way to make pickles- salt, water, garlic, dill and a surprise ingredient- black tea.  These sour or Kosher pickles are classics.  I have been making these for years- sometimes just cukes, other times, I add onions, thin carrots, cauliflower, peppers.  Consider green beans or turnips.  Always lots of garlic!

Sandor Katz, my fermentation guru, suggests adding black tea for its tannin.  This should help keep the pickles crunchy.  I will let you know in a month.

You will need a large crock, a large food grade bucket or a two litre jar- as long as it is "food grade" and  squeaky clean.

On the right- cukes, carrots and small onions in 2L jars.  One of the jars is  topped with my latest great tool- the airlock from Fermentation Creation.  Perfect and easy to use with mason jars.

On the left- just cukes in my beautiful crock.  I also use it to ferment sauerkraut and kimchi.

Both jars have lots of garlic and fresh dill.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Strawberry Preserves with Balsamic Vinegar and Black Pepper

Another great preserve from "Saving the Season"... it's kind of sweet and kind of savoury...  Add it to your cheeseboard, dress up your favourite chocolate cake or cheesecake... oh the things you could do with this preserve!

The berries stay whole and plump in this preserve.
To make 4 250 ml jars.

Pineapple with Mint and Chile Preserve- it's a Keeper!

Another amazing preserve from The Preservatory by Lee Murphy.  Serve it with pork (beautiful pork ally), with an Indian lamb curry.  I added the pineapple to my chicken fried rice and my son Alex made us a Siempre (of course!) tequila pineapple cocktail.  Both delicious!

My next batch will include more chiles.
For approximately twelve 250 ml jars.

Caramelized Pineapple with Siempre Tequila and Saffron

What to do when your son arrives with 15 fresh pineapples?  If you are a crazy canner like me, you make caramelized pineapple using my favourite tequila, Siempre Plata- 100% Canadian owned, winner of numerous awards and distilled in the town of Tequila Mexico.

Caramelized pineapple with tequila and saffron.
 This recipe is from "Saving the Season", one of my "go to" preserving books.

To make approximately two liters.

Making fresh apple pectin for preserving

From The Preservatorium preserving book.  This will help set preserves made with low-pectin fruit.  I prefer it to using commercial pectin which usually calls for huge amounts of sugar.  Sure, the set will not be as "stiff" but I prefer the taste and texture.

Lee Murphy, the author, recommends using green, unripe apples, but if you can't find them, use tart Granny Smith apples.

This is super easy to make!

This recipe makes about 5 1/2 litres.

7 lbs       green apples (stems removed and quartered)
12 cups   water

In a large stockpot, bring the apples and the water to a boil over high heat.  Cook the apples until they are falling apart, about 20 - 30 minutes.

In a food processor or food mill, pulse in small batches to create a mash, strain through a sieve or chinois.  For a clearer juice, line the sieve with cheesecloth.

Freeze in smaller containers for use in preserving recipes.  Keeps for six to nine months.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Smoked Salt and Lime Marguerita Preserves

Meet my newest favourite preserving book: The Preservatory by Lee Murphy.  Lee preserves the bounty of Vista D'Oro Farms & Winery located in Southern B.C.  Amazing recipes!

I've made this recipe with Canada's Siempre tequila plata, an multiple award winning tequila, distilled in the town of Tequila Mexico.

This preserve can be served with cheese, garnish a cake or in

To make about 14 - 250ml jars.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Canning Season is Here! First Up- Pickled Asparagus.

The local asparagus season is so short,  I took advantage this year!  Pickled asparagus and frozen roasted asparagus.  Perfect!

Asparagus has such delicate flavour, I just added lemon juice to the white wine vinegar, a little garlic and a little whole coriander.  They are so easy to can.  Just wash, trim to fit the jars, add the brine and you are ready to go!

Pickled asparagus.

This recipe makes three 500ml jars plus one one litre jar.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Enchiladas Verde- the Salsa.

This beautiful, vibrant green sauce graces many a Mexican table and tops many an enchilada.  It's so easy to make at home and it's so delicious.

In Ottawa, tomatillos can only be found in the summer.  This recipe uses canned whole tomatillos but everything else is fresh.  Except maybe for the chicken concentrate- I ran out of broth.

The variety of fresh peppers, the garlic and especially the fresh cilantro give this sauce a wonderful texture and flavour.  Make extra and freeze or use it as a table sauce...

This recipe makes about one litre of salsa verde.  Enough to top about ten enchiladas and have a little left over.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Arroz con pollo- every mamacita has a great one!

Arroz con pollo (aka chicken and rice) is like a Mexican version of Spanish paella and it's delicious.  Perfect for a family dinner, your next dinner party or for a pot luck.  I like to double the recipe and tuck away half in the freezer- two portions per foil container- for weekday dinners.

Serve with a green salad and voila!

To serve 8...

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Siempre Tequila Marshmallows... Perfect for Cinco de Mayo!

What does Gourmet Jo bring to a Cinco de Mayo Celebration?  Siempre marshmallows, of course!

But, how do you serve marshmallows- beautiful, sticky, gooey, Siempre and lime infused treats, to fifty well-heeled guests?

These simple, one bite cups did the trick.  Siempre infused slices of lime are strategically placed in each clear cup, ready to receive a spoonful of Heavenly marshmallows.

A little salty, a little sweet, a touch of lime and a healthy "glug" of Siempre Tequila...

Beyond Heavenly!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sauerkraut- fermented cabbage- so good for you!

Sandor Katz is the long-time proponent of everything fermented.  I remember trying out his recipes twenty years ago when I was looking for new preserving challenges.  It turns out that fermenting is not so challenging.  Just a few points to keep in mind: keeping the vegetables under the brine, scooping out the old, or "bloom" as Katz calls it, tasting the ferment often to judge when to slow it down or refrigerate it.  I've now made many a sauerkraut and kimchi and enjoy sharing with family and friends.  

This summer, I have added fermented hot sauce and sliced hot peppers to my repertoire.  So amazing!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mexican Chorizo with my Favourite Tequila- Siempre

A worthy sausage to demonstrate at the sausage making class.  We made it into coils (a la boerowors), into sausages and into patties.  Chorizo is also versatile- eat it in a bun, crumble it into tacos, eggs, wrap puff pastry around it- oh the things you can serve!

Val and I made pork chorizo then experimented with poultry chorizo.  Both varieties well seasoned and "doused" with my favourite tequila.  Delicious.

This recipe makes 10lbs of sausage.

Delicious Mexican chorizo with my favourite tequila.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Boerewors- for your summer braai!

I love a challenge so when Valeriah described South Africa's national sausage, the boerewors, I was hooked.  This beautiful coil of well seasoned meat is perfect for backyard barbecues or braais, as they are called in her home country.

On the menu for the sausage making class were two very different, delicious sausages: the boerewors and the Mexican chorizo.  We made two variations of each and they were all delicious.  The boerewors are traditionally made into coils and we made a few patties (a la hamburger) as well.

Thank you to Hank Shaw whose website provided much inspiration.

This recipe makes 15 lbs of sausage - about 10 coils and many patties.