Chicken Piccata

Chicken Picatta

Last on our tour of schnitzel around the world is the Italian inspired chicken piccata. Even though the exact origin of chicken piccata is unclear, it definitely comes from the Italian culture, but it has been hard for Italians and Americans to narrow down exactly what the word “piccata” means. When translating it from Italian to English, it has several different meanings and originates from several Italian words, the result being a mixture of possibilities.  It is unsure whether chicken piccata was made by Italians in Italy or by Italian immigrants after they came over to the United States around the early 1930s. The name for a lemon and butter sauce differs in the various regions of Italy as well, making it hard to track down the exact location it originated from.

One of the main reasons piccata is so popular though is because it is known as a fairly fast and economical dish. The piccata sauce is said to be the perfect blend of salty, acidic and buttery flavors, then broth or wine is added to complete it. There are many different variations of piccata. The classic Italian sauce usually consists of lemon, broth/wine, butter, salt and pepper and other ingredients are sometimes added to the lemon sauce like capers, parsley or even garlic to spice things up a bit and usually finished off by adding salt and pepper so it’s not too bland. Traditionally, the chicken may only be dusted in flour before being lightly fried, but you can also lightly bread it as I have in the recipe here. It will give the chicken a little more substance, and by flavouring the breadcrumbs, give another layer of seasoning, I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded very thin (about ¼” thick)
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 ½ cups breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 eggs, lightly whisked
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, or as needed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup white wine
1 lemon, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
¼ cup margarine
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, minced*

* Click here to learn how to clean parsley.

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 200°F. Place a serving platter into the oven to warm. Place the breadcrumbs on a large plate, and season them with the garlic powder and lemon zest. Place the flour on a separate plate, and season it with the salt and pepper. Place the whisked eggs in a bowl. Dip the chicken in the flour and shake off any excess. Then dip the chicken in the eggs, then in the breadcrumbs, pressing firmly to coat. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet and pan-fry the chicken until it is golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Work in batches and do not over crowd the skillet, adding more oil as needed. Place the chicken onto the warmed platter in the oven.

When you are finished with all of the chicken, drain most of the oil from the skillet, leaving a thin coating on the surface of the pan. Cook and stir the minced garlic and shallot in the skillet until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the white wine, and scrape up and dissolve any brown bits that may have become stuck on the bottom of the skillet. Add the chicken broth and lemon slices, and bring the mixture to a boil. Let the sauce cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reduces by about a third, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the lemon juice and capers, and simmer again until the sauce is reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes more. Drop the margarine into the skillet and swirl it into the sauce by tilting the skillet until the margarine is melted and incorporated. Add the parsley, and remove the sauce from heat and set aside. Arrange the chicken on a serving plate and spoon the sauce over to serve.

Copycat Recipes – Famous Mains!

So it was kinda hard to choose which mains to find recipes for. I actually googled, “Most Popular Restaurant Dishes” to see what would come up, and low and behold, I got a few of the beauties below. I did go for some Canadian flavour though, and threw in Swiss Chalet’s famous rotisserie chicken and dipping sauce. Surprisingly, not a kosher issue (other than, you know, the establishment itself not being kosher). I hope you all enjoy!


Bonefish Grill Bang Bang Shrimp“Bonefish Grill” Bang Bang “Shrimp”

So with this recipe, the only real change is the obvious, using imitation “shrimp” instead of the real McCoy. Other than that, this recipe is pretty kosher friendly!

Ingredients:
1 cup vegetable oil, or more, as needed
2 cups buttermilk*
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons hot sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 pounds imitation “shrimp”

For the Sauce:
½ cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons rice vinegar

* Don’t have buttermilk? Check out my cheat tips here.

Directions:
To make the sauce, whisk together the mayonnaise, sweet chili sauce, honey and rice vinegar in a small bowl and then set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, flour, cornstarch, eggs, and hot sauce. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste, and set this aside as well.

In a large bowl, combine the panko, onion and garlic powders, basil, oregano, and some salt and pepper, to taste. Working one at a time, dip a “shrimp” into the buttermilk mixture, then dredge it in the panko mixture, pressing to coat.

Working in batches, add the “shrimp” to the skillet and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve immediately, drizzled with the sweet chili sauce.


“Cheesecake Factory” Louisiana Chicken PastaCheesecake Factory Louisiana Chicken Pasta

So with this recipe, there were quite a bit of changes needed, as there was a lot mixing of dairy and meat in this recipe. I think I’ve found a happy balance, omitting somethings, and substituting others. I hope you agree!

Ingredients:
For the Chicken:
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup non-dairy milk

For the Cajun Sauce:
1 tablespoon margarine
1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
¾ small red onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 whole garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 ½ cups non-dairy creamer
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced*
1 (12 ounce) packages bow tie pasta
salt, to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean basil.

Directions:
For the sauce, melt the margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the yellow and red bell peppers, mushrooms, and onion to the skillet, and sauté until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper to skillet and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add the non-dairy creamer, as well as the chicken stock, and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add half of the basil, stirring to incorporate, and season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer. The sauce will continue to reduce and thicken.

For the chicken, pound the chicken breasts until they are very thin (the thinner the better). Mix together the breadcrumbs, garlic powder, lemon zest, salt and flour. Pour the non-dairy milk into a shallow bowl for dipping. Dip the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture and then in the milk and then back in the breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil in a frying pan set to medium-high heat, and fry the chicken until golden crisp and cooked through. Add more oil to the pan as needed. Remove the chicken to a paper-lined plate to drain.

Meanwhile, cook the bow-tie pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Once done, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Add the sauce that has been reducing and toss the pasta to coat. To plate, dish up a healthy portion of the pasta, and top with a golden piece of chicken and the remaining basil.


PF Changs Chicken Lettuce Wraps“P.F. Chang’s” Chicken Lettuce Wraps

What’s amazing about this recipe is that I didn’t need to change a thing! Enjoy!

Ingredients:
½ cup + 1 tablespoon oil
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 cups water chestnuts, minced
2 cups mushroom, minced
½ cup onions, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
12-15 iceberg lettuce leaves*

Special Sauce:
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups water
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons lemon juice
⅜ teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons hot mustard
2 tablespoons hot water
1-2 tablespoons garlic and red chile paste

Stir Fry Sauce:
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons rice wine vinegar

* Click here to learn how to clean lettuce:

Directions:
Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in the water in a bowl. Add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil. Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you’re ready to serve.  Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well. Eventually add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.

In a wok or large frying pan, bring the oil to a high heat. Sauté the chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until they are done. Remove the chicken from the pan and allow them to cool.

Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl. When chicken is cool, mince it as small as the mushrooms and water chestnuts are. With the pan still on high heat, add another tablespoon of vegetable oil (to the oil that was left over from cooking the chicken). Add the chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the hot pan. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan, and sauté the mixture for a couple minutes then serve in the lettuce leaves with the special sauce.


“Swiss Chalet” Rotisserie ChickenSwiss Chalet Chicken and Dipping Sauce

As a Canadian, how can you not want just a bite of that beautifully, crispy, spinning rotisserie Swiss Chalet chicken? Well, it turns out, making it kosher isn’t that hard! In fact, I didn’t have to change a thing! Keep in mind though, that unless you have a rotisserie feature on your oven/bbq, it will not come out exactly the same as the commercials.

Ingredients:
1 (3 to 4 pound) whole chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon onion salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dehydrated tomato soup mix
1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon dried savoury
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 cup water

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large re-sealable plastic bag. Poke holes into a whole chicken. Place the chicken in the bag and let it marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Cook the chicken in a rotisserie oven at 350 degrees for 2 hours or until cooked through. Serve with dipping sauce.

“Swiss Chalet” Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:
3 cups water
¼ cup tomato juice
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon white sugar
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon dried mustard
¼ teaspoon onion powder
1 bay leaf
¾ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce*
6 drops Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

* Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce with meat dishes.

Directions:
In a saucepan, add the water, tomato juice and all of the other ingredients EXCEPT for the lemon juice, cornstarch, final 1 tablespoon water and vegetable oil. Using a whisk, stir the sauce thoroughly, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the lemon juice.

In a small bowl mix the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water into a slurry. Slowly whisk the slurry into the sauce. While still whisking, add the oil to the sauce. Continue to whisk the sauce while it cooks for a few more minutes and it will thicken up. This will make 3 cups of sauce.

Copycat Recipes – Famous Soups!

So some of these soups I’ve only heard about, whispered, as if part of a fabled legend, the epic tastiness, the supreme awesomeness, the warmth, the… well, you get the idea. Unfortunately, I don’t see The Cheesecake Factory opening up a kosher establishment anytime soon, so the chances of me getting my hands on a bowl of their famous Chicken Tortilla Soup is pretty much slim to none.

So, my fellow kosher foodies, I have tracked down a few of the greats here below for you, from Panera, Applebee’s, Olive Garden, and yes, Cheesecake Factory. You will notice the use of items like non-dairy creamer or shredded cheese, or pareve chicken stock (made from bouillon). You can always switch items up, use real chicken stock, and then use creamer instead of heavy cream, margarine instead of butter, etc. If you have any requests, leave a comment, and I’ll try and track down the recipe for you! Enjoy!


Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup“Panera” Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups pareve chicken stock
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)*
1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 ½ cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, plus more for serving
salt and ground black pepper to taste
* Click here to learn about cleaning broccoli.

Directions:
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic in the hot butter until translucent, about 5 minutes, and then set it aside. Whisk the ¼ cup melted butter and flour together in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; cook until flour loses its granular texture, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk if necessary to keep the flour from burning, 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually pour the remaining milk into flour mixture while whisking constantly. Stir chicken stock into milk mixture. Bring to a simmer; cook until flour taste is gone and mixture is thickened, about 20 minutes. Add broccoli, carrots, celery, and sautéed onion and garlic. Simmer everything until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir the cheddar cheese into the soup until the cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with extra cheese on top.


“Applebee’s” Tomato Basil SoupApplebee Tomato Basil Soup

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
½ cup minced white onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 (796ml) cans crushed tomatoes
3 cups pareve chicken broth
¾ cup heavy cream
⅓ cup minced fresh basil*
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley*
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
seasoned croutons, for serving
parmesan cheese, for serving
* Click here to learn how to clean basil and parsley.

Directions:
Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and then add onion and garlic. Sauté for about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes and chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let mixture cool, uncovered, for 30 minutes or so. You can let it sit for as long as an hour, if you like.

Pour approximately half of the tomato mixture into a blender. Put the lid on the blender and hold it down with a dish towel. Mixture may still be hot and you don’t want the lid of the blender to pop off. Blend on high speed for about a minute, pour the mixture into a large bowl or pitcher, then add the rest of the mixture to the blender and blend on high speed for a minute.

Pour all of the pureed tomato mixture back into the saucepan and then add the remaining ingredients. Bring the soup back up to a bubble then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve approximately one cup of soup with a garnish of 3 or 4 croutons on top and a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan cheese.


Olive Garden Pasta e Fagoili Soup“Olive Garden” Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 large carrot, sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (796ml) cans diced tomatoes
1 (540ml) can red kidney beans (with liquid)
1 (540ml) can navy beans (with liquid)
1 (680ml) can tomato sauce
1 ½ cups vegetable cocktail juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ pound (½ pkg.) ditalini pasta (or other small pasta)

Directions:
In a large pot over medium heat, brown the ground beef, until it is cooked through. Drain off most of the fat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except pasta, and simmer for 1 hour.

Once the soup has been cooking for about 50 minutes into the simmering, cook the pasta in 1 ½ to 2 quarts of boiling water over high heat. Cook for 10 minutes or just until pasta is just slightly undercooked. Drain the pasta, and add it to the large pot of soup. Simmer the soup for an additional 5 to 10 minutes and serve hot.


“Cheesecake Factory” Chicken Tortilla SoupCheesecake Factory Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken
1 gallon water
6 carrots (3 roughly chopped, and 3 sliced)
6 celery ribs (3 roughly chopped, and 3 sliced)
1 onion (chopped)
4 tablespoons garlic (minced)
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ cup cilantro (chopped)*
½ (796ml) can diced tomatoes
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1 cup non-dairy creamer
1 (341ml) can corn
20 corn tortillas, fresh
oil for frying
1 ½ cups non-dairy shredded cheese
* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:
Simmer chicken in water, with the 3 roughly chopped carrots and celery, ½ the chopped onion, 2 tablespoons of the garlic, the salt and the white and black peppers for 2 hours. Remove the chicken and allow it to cool. Meanwhile, remove all the excess fat and the vegetables used to simmer the chicken in and discard.

Add the remaining carrots, celery, onion and garlic to the soup pot, along with the cayenne, cumin, cilantro, tomatoes, jalapeno and corn. Stir well. Remove the chicken meat from the carcass and add it to the soup in large chunks. Add the non-dairy creamer to the soup for colour and thickness.

Cut tortillas in strips and fry in oil. Put tortillas in bottom of bowl, sprinkle with non-dairy cheese and pour soup on top. Top with more non-dairy cheese and serve hot.


Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup“Panera” Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Ingredients:
½ cup orzo pasta
¾ teaspoon olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
8 cups chicken broth
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
½ lemon, zested
5 ounces cooked chicken breast, chopped
½ (8 ounce) package baby spinach leaves*
½ lemon, sliced for garnish (optional)
* Click here to learn how to clean baby spinach.

Directions:
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo in the boiling water until partially cooked through but not yet soft, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta, and rinse it with cold water until cooled completely.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté and stir carrots, celery, and onion in hot oil until the vegetables begin to soften and the onion becomes translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Season the mixture with thyme, oregano, salt, black pepper, and the bay leaf. Let everything cook for another minute before pouring chicken broth into the pot. Bring the broth to a boil, and then partially cover the pot, reducing the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir the orzo, lemon juice, and lemon zest into the broth and add the chicken. Cook the soup until the chicken and orzo are heated through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the baby spinach, stirring until the spinach wilts into the broth and the orzo is tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with lemon slices.

Creamy Pasta with Salmon and Dill

Salmon Dill Pasta

Hi everyone! I realize that it’s been a long time since I last posted, but I need to get back on that horse! Here is a quick recipe that I’ve been making lately. It’s a dairy pasta dish, so it’s rich and comforting, but the fresh dill and lemon zest keep it from being too heavy. You can also switch up the fresh salmon for canned or for a twist, use smoked salmon instead! This recipe will serve 6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

12 ounces uncooked linguine pasta (or any other pasta of choice)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced thin
2 shallots, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ¼ pounds of fresh or frozen (defrosted) salmon, cubed
¾ cup cream cheese
¾ cup fresh dill, chopped finely*
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest**
salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

* Click here to learn how to properly check fresh dill.
** Click here for my tips on zesting.

Directions:

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Once the pasta is done, drain it, saving the water to add to the sauce.

In a large sauté pan, add the olive oil and heat on medium-high temperature. Once the oil is hot, add the onion, shallots and garlic. Toss to coat in the oil and season with salt and fresh pepper. Allow to cook, softening and getting some colour, but not turning completely brown, about 5-7 minutes.

Once the onions are mostly done, add the salmon to the pan, and again, toss to coat. Let the fish and onions sit for a minute or two, to allow the salmon to begin to cook. Add the cream cheese to the pan, and move it around the pan, so that the heat begins to melt the cheese. At this point, add some of the pasta water to the pan to mix with the melting cream cheese and make a sauce. Add as much water as you feel necessary to get the consistency that you like. Once the cheese has completely been thinned out, add the dill and mix to combine.

In a large mixing or serving bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the sauce and then sprinkle with the lemon zest and additional dill, salt and pepper, to taste.

 

Roasted Cornish Hens with Apple, Date & Almond Stuffing and Honey Pomegranate Glaze

Cornish Hens

So on Rosh HaShanah we eat many symbolic foods, in order to have a healthy, happy and prosperous new year. This entrée includes 4 of these foods! The apple symbolizes Gan Eden(The Garden of Eden), which according to the Sages had the scent of an apple orchard. The word date in Hebrew is תמרים and related to the word תם – to end. So on Rosh HaShanah we eat dates so that G-d will bring an end to our enemies.

Honey, as you know is sweet, and what could be a better symbol for a sweet new year? Lastly, the pomegranate is full of seeds (some say 613 seeds to be exact, just like the number of laws in the Torah). So we eat pomegranates so that we will be as full of mitzvot (good deeds) and the pomegranate is seeds. This recipe is geared for 8 guests, and will give some extra stuffing and sauce to serve along with your final dish. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

¼ cup unsalted margarine (½ a stick)
8-12 (about 4 pounds) Fuji apples, chopped
20 Medjool dates, pits removed, chopped*
2 lemons, zest and juice**
2 oranges, zest and juice**
1 cup unsalted roasted almonds, chopped
Salt and pepper (to taste)
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 stalks celery, roughly chopped
8 Cornish hens (1 ¼ pounds each)
¾ cup dry white wine
⅓ cup chopped shallots (about 1 ½ large shallots or 3 small ones)
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 ½ cups pomegranate juice
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons margarine

* Click here to learn how to inspect dates.
** Click here for my tips on zesting lemons and oranges.
♦ Click here to learn how to truss a Cornish hen.

Directions:

Melt margarine in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When sizzling, add apples and sauté, stirring occasionally, until brown but still crisp, about 15-20 minutes. Add dates, zests, and juices; cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat, cool, and stir in almonds and salt.

Place the chopped onions, carrots and celery in the bottom of a large roasting pan (or divide into two smaller pans) and mix the vegetables so that they are combined.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Remove and discard the giblets and necks from the hens. Rinse the hens under cold water and then pat dry. Trim off any excess fat. Season each cavity with salt and pepper, and then loosely stuff with apple mixture. Truss the hens♦. Place the hens, breast-side up, on top of the chopped vegetables.

Boil the wine and shallots in a heavy small saucepan until most of the wine has evaporated, about 4-6 minutes. Add the broth, pomegranate juice and honey. Boil again until the sauce has reduced to about 1 ¾ – 2 cups, about 7-9 minutes. Whisk in the margarine and then remove from the heat.

Brush the hens with the honey-pomegranate sauce. Roast the hens at 475 degrees for 15 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 400 degrees and cook for an additional 35 minutes, or until juices run clear. While the hens are roasting, baste them occasionally with more of the sauce, about every 10 minutes or so. Serve the hens with any remaining stuffing and remaining sauce.

Safety Note: Before serving the remaining sauce or giving a final basting to the fully cooked hens, put the sauce back on the stove and bring it back up to a quick boil. The reason for this is because you have been dipping your basting brush back and forth between the hens while they were cooking, and therefore at various stages of rawness, and then dipping the brush back into the sauce pot. You want to eliminate any chances of salmonella or other food borne pathogens from contaminating your final dish. The re-boiling of the sauce will kill off these pathogens. Safety first!

One-Pot Pasta Primavera

One Pot Pasta Primavera

This creamy, saucy pasta overflows with spring green veggies and cooks up in a single pot! You can definitely play up which veggies you use in this dish, just remember some might have longer cooking times, so you’d want to par cook them first, by either boiling them a bit first on their own or nuking them in the microwave for a minute or two before adding with the rest of the vegetables. To see what is fresh and in season, you can check out your local food guides. Here is a link to the availability guide in Ontario, showing you which fruits and vegetables are freshest each month. This dish will serve at least 6 people, so enjoy!

Ingredients:

6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
12 ounces linguine, uncooked
1 large onion, halved and sliced thin
1 ½ pounds broccoli, cut into large florets (about 3 cups)*§
2 ¼ pounds asparagus, ends snapped off and cut into 2-inch pieces*
6 ounces sliced white button mushrooms (about 1 ½ cups)*
6 large cloves garlic, minced
⅓ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (less for milder heat; more to increase heat)
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ¼ cups frozen peas
1 medium handful fresh parsley, chopped (about ¾ cup chopped)*
⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest**
Additional salt and pepper to taste
Additional Parmesan cheese for serving, if desired

* Click here to learn how to clean these vegetables and herbs.
** Click here for my tips on zesting lemons.
§ If you are using frozen broccoli florets for this dish, then add them about halfway through your 7 minute “tossing” window, instead of at the beginning (see directions below).

Note: If you want to make this pasta dish non-dairy, you can substitute the heavy whipping cream with non-dairy creamer and leave out the parmesan.

Directions:

Add the broth, pasta, onion, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to a large pot set over high heat. Drizzle the olive oil over the top.

As soon as it comes to a boil, set the timer for 7 minutes and start tossing with long-handled tongs. Continue boiling and tossing it every minute or so (You’re doing this so that they noodles do not stick and clump together). As soon as the 7 minutes is up, add the peas, parsley, heavy whipping cream, Parmesan, and lemon zest and continue cooking, tossing constantly, for 1-2 more minutes, until the pasta and veggies appear tender. Remove from heat.

Note that much of the liquid will have evaporated, but not all. And that’s okay! Let the pasta sit for a couple of minutes to cool; the sauce will continue to thicken during that time. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese.

Canadian Berry Galette (Saskatchewan)

Berry Galette

So Saskatchewan is known as Prairie Country… and it is flat! By flat, I mean you can see right across the province, no problem. But flat doesn’t mean boring, or unproductive! All that flat land gives us great plains to grow all kinds of wheats, grains, pulses, and more. One of these crops is Canola, otherwise known as rapeseed (gee, I wonder why it doesn’t go by that name more often?). Canola is used to make Canola Oil. EVERYONE has a bottle of that stuff in their kitchen! So, we’re going to be making a pie today, with a Canola Oil crust. Now what to go in the pie? Well, if you can get your hands on them, Saskatoon Berries would be great! They look like blueberries, but have a tarter taste that goes well in baked goods. For those of us that live outside the prairie region, blueberries, or other types of berries will have to suffice!

Ingredients:

Canola Oil Pie Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
pinch salt
¼ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons cold milk*
About 2 tablespoons ice water

Mixed Berry Filling:
4 cups mixed berries (Saskatoon berries, huckleberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc.)**
¼ to ⅓ cup, plus 2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest***
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk*

* To make this pie non-dairy, use soy-milk, almond milk or non-dairy creamer in place of the regular milk.
** Click here to learn about cleaning berries.
*** Click here for my tips on zesting lemons.

Directions:

Into a medium bowl sift together the flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in the oil and mix with a fork or pastry blender until the size of peas. Stir in the milk and mix until begins to form a dough. Stir in enough water to form a smooth ball. Flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Allow to rest refrigerated for 20 to 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the berries with ¼ cup of the sugar and the lemon zest. Let sit 3 minutes, then taste to determine if more sugar is needed, adding more as needed. Add the cornstarch and mix well.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a large circle, about 10-inches across. Transfer to a baking sheet. Spread the fruit filling into the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border around the edge. Fold the edges over the filling, overlapping the dough into folds. With a pastry brush, brush the cream onto the dough border and sprinkle the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar on top.

Bake until the dough is golden brown and the fruit is bubby, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before serving.

New York Style Cheesecake

CheesecakeSo the last stop that Phileas Fogg and Passepartout made before returning to London, and completing their circumnavigation of the globe was in New York, New York, in the good ol’ US of A. So what could be a sweeter way to finish than with dessert? New York? Dessert? Hello cheesecake! New York–style cheesecake relies upon heavy cream or sour cream in addition to the cream cheese, and has a dense, smooth, and creamy consistency. Interesting note, the sour cream makes the cheesecake more resilient to freezing and is the method by which most frozen cheesecakes are made. Today’s recipe will give you a very basic cake, but I’ve added two sauces to choose from for toppings! Not in the mood to make a topping from scratch? You can always use your favourite flavour of pie filling! A dollop of any flavour will do ya! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

15 graham crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 ½ cups white sugar
¾ cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup all-purpose flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan, particularly up the sides of the pan. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press onto bottom of springform pan.

In a large bowl, using an electric beater, mix the cream cheese with the sugar until smooth. By hand, blend in the milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Overmixing can affect the texture of the cake, so just mix by hand until combined. Pour filling into prepared crust.

You will be baking the cake in a water bath, to ensure even cooking. Take a large baking dish that will fit your springform pan inside of it, and is at least an inch and a half deep. Place the filled springform pan in your baking dish, and then fill the dish with hot water, so that the water comes up about 1 inch from the base of the springform pan. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. After 1 hour, turn the oven off, and let the cake cool in the oven with the door closed for at least 3 hours, but more like 5-6. This will prevent cracking along the surface of the cake. Once the cake has sat, chill it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. You can enjoy this as is or with one of the toppings below.

Strawberry SauceStrawberry Sauce

Ingredients:

2 pints fresh strawberries*
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest**

* Click here to learn how to clean strawberries.
** Click here for my tips on zesting lemons.

Directions:

Combine berries, sugar, water and zest and cook until berries are soft and the liquid is thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Spoon on top of the cheesecake and serve.

Blueberry SauceBlueberry Sauce

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 ½ cups water
½ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 ½ teaspoons orange zest**
1 ½ cups blueberries, picked over and rinsed*
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter

* Click here to learn how to clean blueberries.
** Click here for my tips on zesting oranges.

Directions:

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat stir together the sugar, cornstarch, water, orange juice, and orange zest. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the blueberries and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the berries have burst, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted. Remove from heat and let cool before pouring over the cheesecake.

Chicken Nanban

Chicken NanbanOur next stop in our Around the World tour takes us to Yokohama, Japan. Now the Japanese obviously have Sushi, but I felt that was too much of a “gimme” for the blog, that, and you can find sushi at every corner store these days, so I wanted something different. The Japanese have a version of fried chicken though, that was similar enough to be comfortable to Westerners, but different enough to be exotic. Enter Chicken Nanban! Originating in Kyushu, is a popular take on fried chicken covered in a sweet and sour sauce. One bite and you’ll never think of fried chicken the same again!

Nanban means European countries in old Japanese, and as the name suggests, it was influenced by the European settlers that came in Japan. As such, it is a Yoshoku dish, combining Western ingredients with Japanese taste. A little sweet, and a little sour, the flavors blend beautifully in each crispy bite. You might notice this recipe is a little different in that we dredge the chicken in flour and then coat with egg. No, that’s no mistake, it’s truly how the dish is made. Coating the chicken in this way evokes a tempura like texture with a light and springy bite, creating a really unusual and memorable dish. Then we briefly dip it in Nanban sauce to let it soak up all the delicious flavor! While it may look like a lot of work, the dish comes together really easily, so it’s sure to be a hit for with fried chicken lovers! This recipe will serve 6.

Ingredients:

Tartar Sauce:
3 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
3 tablespoons celery, finely chopped (about ½ – ¾ of a stalk)
1 ½ scallions/green onions, minced*
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 ½ teaspoons whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon lemon zest**
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Nanban Sauce:
6 tablespoons soy sauce
6 tablespoons sake (can be substituted with sweet sherry)***
6 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
6 tablespoons rice vinegar

Chicken:
3 pounds chicken thighs – boneless skin-on
3 eggs
vegetable oil for frying
flour – all-purpose for dusting
salt and pepper

* Click here to learn how to clean scallions/green onions.
** Click here for my tips on zesting.
*** Click here for the kosher alcohol list.

Directions:

To prepare the tartar sauce, add the boiled egg, celery, scallion, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest, and lemon juice to a bowl and stir to combine. Add salt and white pepper to taste.

To make the nanban sauce, add the soy sauce, sake, sugar and ginger to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute and then add the vinegar. When the sauce returns to a boil, turn off the heat.

Add 2-inches of oil to heavy bottomed pot and heat to 340 degrees F (test with a kitchen thermometer). Prepare a wire cooling rack positioned over a drip pan for once the chicken has fried.

Trim any excess fat off the chicken and lightly salt and pepper. Dust the chicken with flour. Beat the eggs in a bowl until uniform and then dip the chicken in the eggs to thoroughly coat.

Gently lower the egg coated chicken skin-side down into the hot oil and then drizzle a little of the remaining egg onto the tops of each piece of chicken. The drizzled egg will quickly expand and spread out. Use tongs or chopsticks to fold the egg back over the chicken. You may need to fry the chicken in batches.

Fry the chicken until its golden brown and cooked through (about 6-8 minutes). You may need to flip the chicken over once halfway through to evenly brown the top.

Transfer the fried chicken, fluffy side down to the wire rack and drizzle half the nanban sauce onto the smooth side. Flip the chicken over and then drizzle the remaining sauce onto the fluffy side. Slice and serve the chicken with the tartar sauce immediately.

Roasted Asparagus, Avocado and Arugula Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette

Asparagus, Avocado & Arugula SaladThis is a gorgeous green salad that will serve 6 easily. You can also substitute the arugula for baby spinach or baby kale. If you’re having a dairy meal, try shaving some strips of parmesan over this salad for a finishing touch!

Ingredients:

⅓ cup minced shallots (about 2 large)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel**
2 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar (you can substitute with red or white wine vinegar)
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound slender asparagus, tough ends trimmed*
6 cups (lightly packed) arugula (about 5 ounces)*
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives*
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 ripe avocado
⅓ cup pine nuts or hazelnuts (optional)

* Click here to learn about cleaning asparagus, arugula and chives.
** Click here for my tips on zesting lemons.

Directions:

Whisk first 5 in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in oil. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper. If you would like to make this ahead of time, it can be done a day in advance. Just cover and chill, then let stand at room temperature 30 minutes and re-whisk before using.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place asparagus spears on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle ¼ cup vinaigrette over and turn to coat, then spread in single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast asparagus until just crisp-tender, about 12-15 minutes.

While the asparagus is cooking, place the pine nuts into a small skillet over medium heat and toast them for a few minutes till they turn golden brown and aromatic. Be careful, stir constantly, and keep a close eye once they start to brown—they can go from brown to burned very quickly. Once they’ve turned golden, pour them into a small bowl and reserve.

When the asparagus has finished cooking, remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Cut each stalk into 4-5 pieces each. Discard any overly tough ends that did not get tender during roasting. Cut the avocado into small cubes.

Combine arugula, chives, avocado and asparagus in large bowl. Add remaining vinaigrette and toss to coat. Transfer salad to platter; sprinkle with salt, pepper and toasted nuts. Serve warm or at room temperature.