Archive for Spring Mains

Swiss Chard Tart With Feta And Currants

I came across this recipe last year and have made it a few times since.  So far, everyone who has eaten it has given it two thumbs up!  And as Swiss chard is available for most of the year I think a good recipe to keep handy!

For the Filling:

1 Tbsp. EVO
1 onion, chopped fine
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1 bunch Swiss chard (approximately 12 oz.)
¼ cup currants
1 egg
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta (Greek) – I prefer Dodonis
3 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

For the Tart:

1 Sheet (225g) puff pastry, bought or homemade
Egg wash:  1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp.

Make the Filling:

In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium–low.  Cook the onions until soft,  then add the cinnamon & salt, stirring to combine.

Meanwhile, chop the chard leaves into small ribbons & add to the onions when they are soft.  Cook uncovered, until very soft (10-15 minutes.)

Plump the currants by covering with hot water & allowing them to stand for 10-15 minutes.  Drain well & add to the chard.  Cook on low for another 5 minutes or so.  Allow to cool.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg with the feta & Parmigiano.  Add the chard mixture & combine thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Meanwhile, lay the pastry out on a baking sheet that has been lined with baking parchment.  Fold the outside over ½” or so to form a lip all the way around the edge.  Prick the surface with a fork & brush with the egg wash.  Refrigerate for an hour or so.  (Keeping the pastry chilled will increase its ability to puff up.)

Spread the chard mixture evenly over the pastry.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or  until the crust is beautifully browned.

Braised Chicken with Ramps

Ramps are a rite of spring if you’re lucky enough to find them!  A simple braise with just a few  ingredients.

For The Chicken:

1 (3 lb) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Salt & pepper
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. EVO
1 cup Pearl onions (I used frozen ones) or just a small chopped onion
½ cup dry Vermouth or white wine
2 oz. thinly sliced white part of ramps (slice & reserve the green stalks for later)
1 cup chicken stock
1 fresh bay leaf
½ tsp. or so of fresh thyme
1/3 to ½ cup crème fraiche or whipping cream

Preparing the Chicken:

Season the chicken with salt & pepper.

Place a large saute pan over medium heat; add the butter & oil. When hot but not smoking, add the chicken pieces, without crowding, skin side down to begin with brown them.   Turn chicken over, browning the other side.  Remove to a plate.

Pour off all but 2 Tbsp. of the remaining fat in the pan. (If using regular chopped onion add it here, sauteeing until softened but not brown). Add the white part of the ramps to the onions, sauteeing a few more minutes until the onions & the ramps are done.

Add the Vermouth, to the pan, scraping up any brown bits. Raise the heat & reduce the Vermouth by half. Add the stock & thyme. Return the chicken drumsticks & thighs to the pan, cover & simmer10 minutes. Remove the lid & add the remaining chicken pieces. Cover & continue cooking until all the chicken pieces are cooked through, approximately 20 – 25 minutes. Remove to a serving platter & keep warm.

I don’t bother but if you wish you can puree the cooking liquid in a processor, press through a sieve, then return to the pan. Bring either the pureed or not pureed sauce to a boil, add the crème fraiche or heavy cream, a handful of the sliced ramp greens (approx. ½ c), salt & pepper & simmer for a couple of minutes until slightly thickened. Pour over the chicken and serve immediately.

To make your own Creme Fraiche, click here.

Coq au Vin – Chicken Braised in Red Wine

My husband invited friends over for Sunday lunch. He suggested we make Coq au Vin and because we haven’t made this “French bistro favourite” for quite some time, I agreed! It’s definitely coming back into our repertoire! Over the years, the recipe from “Joy of Cooking”  has evolved. I figured adding some demi-glace to enrich the sauce sure couldn’t hurt either. Our lunch guests loved it! We started with an orange, red onion and fennel salad using Domencia Marchetti’s excellent dressing recipe. I used a combination of cara cara, navel and blood oranges. Slices of avocado would also be delicious addition. A crispy baguette is all you need to wipe up all those scrumptious, dark, winey juices!

Makes 4 – 6 Servings

DSC_2237 nx23 ½ to 4 lb. roasting chicken, cut into 10 pieces (4 pieces of breast, drumsticks, thighs & wings)
1 ½ Tbsp. each butter and EVOO
¼ lbs. salt pork, cut into 1/8” dice
¾ cup chopped onions
1 ½ cups small Cipolline (or other small onions), peeled
1 medium or large carrot, sliced
3 minced shallots
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3-4 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. minced parsley
1 Tbsp. fresh chervil or marjoram, minced
½ bay leaf
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
½ to 1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 – 2 Tbsp. brandy
2 cups dry red wine (decent enough to drink)
2 Tbsp. veal demi-glace (I make my own veal stock but you can buy demi-glace)
½ lb. sliced Crimini mushrooms

We have found that removing the chicken from its vacuum packaging, setting it on a rack & placing it in the fridge overnight makes a real difference to the texture of the chicken. The next day cut the chicken into 10 pieces, saving the back for making chicken stock.  This drying technique works well for roast chicken as well.

To peel the Cipolline onions bring a pot of water to the boil. Add the onions & boil for 1 minute, drain in a colander, rinse in cold water & allow them to cool enough to handle. Leaving the stem end intact, peel off the outer skin with a sharp paring knife & set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Dice up the “cold” salt port (it’s easier to cut that way), place in a small dish & set aside. Chop up the onions, carrots, shallots & garlic. Set aside.

Season the chicken pieces with salt & pepper. Place a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the butter & EVOO. When hot add the chicken parts, without crowding (you may need to do this in two batches), brown on both sides. Remove from the pan to a large platter & set aside.

Add the finely chopped salt pork to the pan, sautéing until it starts to take on a bit of colour. Add the cipolline & saute for a couple of minutes; add the chopped onions, carrots & shallots, saute until softened; add the chopped garlic, continuing to saute for a minute or so. Add the herbs & bay leaf, stirring to combine; add the flour, stirring & cooking for 2 minutes. Add the brandy, wine & demi-glace; bring to the boil. Return the chicken thighs & drumsticks to the pot, cover with a lid & place in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the lid & add the chicken breast & wings, cover & allow to cook for approximately 30 minutes.

In the meantime, saute the mushrooms in a bit of EVOO, seasoning with salt & pepper. Set aside.

The chicken will take approximately 50 – 60 minutes. 10 minutes before its done, stir in the mushrooms, replace the cover to finish cooking.

When done, remove the pan from the oven, remove the chicken parts to a large serving platter & place in a warming (low) oven. Let the sauce stand in the pan for 10 minutes, skim the fat. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. If the sauce is not thickened to your liking, mix together 1 Tbsp. potato starch & 1 Tbsp. cold water, stir in a little at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. Cook for a couple of minutes. Remove the chicken from the warming oven, pour the sauce over top & serve immediately.

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Spot Prawns With Two Dips

Get ‘em still alive. Remove the heads just before cooking. If you are a bit squeamish get your partner (I do), or a friend to do this.  Or you can simply leave them whole.

Spot Prawn season begins in May and we get them right off the boats at the dock at Granville Island. They are wonderfully sweet and succulent and worth waiting for! We just place them on the barbecue, medium-high heat with the shells on and cook until they change colour. You could do them on a rack under the broiler. Watch carefully, you don’t want to overcook them.

These two dips go rather well with the Prawns:

Charmoula Butter

6 Tbsp. butter
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
2 ½ Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 ½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. (scant) ground cumin
¼ tsp. hot smoked Spanish paprika

Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Add the garlic & sauté for a bit, but do not let the garlic turn colour. Stir in the remaining ingredients; season with salt.

Sweet Chili Sauce – This is really excellent, spicy, sweet and oh so good with spot prawns or halibut cheeks, coconut prawns, or crab cakes.

½ cup sugar
¾ cup water
½ sweet red bell peppers, seeded & any membrane removed, chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
2 Tbsp. sambal oelek, you can adjust to taste, perhaps 1 Tbsp. to start and see from there
¼ cup fish sauce
4-5 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

Combine water & sugar in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over high heat stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for 3 minutes or until reduced by a quarter and just beginning to thicken. Let cool.

Place the red pepper, garlic & sambal oelek in a food processor of blender. Add sugar syrup and puree. Add fish sauce & lime juice, blend until combined. Taste for seasoning adding more lime juice, fish sauce or sambal oelek to taste. Makes about 1 ½ cups & freezes really well.

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Pork Tenderloin With Rhubarb Chutney

This Rhubarb Chutney compliments pork beautifully.  A nice dish to make when the young, sweet rhubarb begins to appear at the markets or in your garden.   I have made this chutney in spring & frozen it.  It tasted great with both  turkey and tourtiere!  Bonus…great on a ham or turkey sandwich too!

_DSC2166.jpg nx2 5Makes 4 Servings

2 Pork tenderloins, trimmed of silverskin
Thinly sliced prosciutto (approximately 4 oz.)
1 clove of garlic, cut into 6 slivers
Fresh sage leaves
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F.

On a large piece of wax paper, lay out the proscuitto in a square shape to the width of the  tenderloin , slightly overlapping the slices.  With a small knife cut 3 slits into the pork tenderloin (near both ends & in the middle); insert 3 slivers of garlic in each slit.  Season with a small amount of salt & pepper; place a few of the sage leaves on top and then roll up the tenderloin, completely enclosing it in proscuitto.  Using kitchen string, tie up every 1″ or so to keep the proscuitto from falling off.  Season & wrap the second tenderloin in the same way.

Heat 1 Tbsp. EVOO in an oven proof frying pan (cast iron works well) over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt & pepper. Tuck thin ends under and secure with toothpicks or short wooden skewers. Brown on all sides, approximately 5 minutes. Place pan in oven and roast for 15 – 20 minutes. Check the inner temperature of the tenderloins with an instant-read thermometer, pork should be 155 F for medium-well. Remove from oven, place on a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes before carving into ½” thick slices.

Alternatively, preheat your barbecue and cook over indirect heat for 20 minutes or so (155 F). Serve with the rhubarb chutney.  My choice!

Rhubarb Chutney – makes 2 cups

Make up to 2 days ahead and keep refrigerated.

½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¾ piece of cinnamon stick
¾ Tbsp. (2 ¼ tsp.) minced fresh ginger
¾ tsp. grated orange peel, a Microplane grater works really well for this
¼ tsp. (scant) ground cardamom
2 1/4  cups coarsely chopped rhubarb, approximately 1 lb. trimmed of leaves, leaves discarded
1/4  cup + 2 Tbsp.  currants
2 green onions, chopped

Make the Chutney:

Stir the first 6 ingredients in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Add the rhubarb, currants and green onions; bring back to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer until rhubarb is tender but not falling apart, about 4 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Discard cinnamon stick. Cover and refrigerate chutney until cold, at least 1 hour.

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German Style Meatballs with Ginger/Spice Sauce

Meatballs are hard not to like! They’re quick and easy and you can have a meal on the table in no time, and child friendly too! I think these are especially good with mashed potatoes, Colcannon (a mashed potato/cabbage combo.) or buttered noodles and a green veg.

Makes 4 Servings

DSC_2323 nx2For the Meatballs:

1 large egg
¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 Tbsp. or more for browning the meatballs
2 carrots, chopped ½” pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 ¾ cups beef stock or homemade beef broth
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
¼ tsp. each ground allspice & ground cloves
1/3 cup crushed gingersnaps
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Make the Meatballs:

In a large bowl beat the egg until well blended; add the breadcrumbs, salt & pepper. Gently mix in the ground beef. Using wet hands shape the mixture into 1 ½” balls; placing on a plate as you roll them. Heat up a large, non-stick or cast iron frying pan on medium heat & add the oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the meatballs & brown on all sides. Remove to a clean plate. If there is more than 1 Tbsp. fat remaining in the pan, remove the excess. Add the carrots & onions & saute until softened, about 5 minutes or so. Add the allspice & cloves, stirring for 30 seconds or so; then add the stock, vinegar & brown sugar; stir to combine. Return the meatballs to the pan, bring everything to a boil; cover & reduce heat to a simmer & simmer 20 to 30 minutes or until the carrots and the meatballs are cooked through. Add the gingersnap crumbs; simmer stirring for 5 minutes or until thickened. Adjust the seasoning with salt if needed. Serve sprinkled with the parsley.

If you wish to make the mashed potatoes and cabbage, click on Colcannon.

Click on How to Make Stock for recipes to make your own stock.

Phyllis Signature

Lasagne With Turkey Bolognese Sauce

Who doesn’t love a good lasagne?  The Turkey Bolognese Sauce is rich, aromatic and delicious!

DSC_7050 nx21 batch Turkey Bolognese Sauce**

1 (15 oz.) container whole-milk ricotta cheese
3 cups (packed) coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
1 ¼ cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
16-20 sheets no-boil lasagne noodles (approx. 7×3”), Barilla’s are pretty good
Fresh basil

Make the Lasagne:

Combine the ricotta, mozzarella, 1 cup Parmigiano & ½ cup basil in medium bowl; stir to blend. Season with salt & freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spread 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2” glass or ceramic baking dish. Cover with 4 noodles, arranging crosswise; drop ¼ of the cheese mixture over the noodles by tablespoonfuls; spread out as much as possible. Top with 1 more cup of sauce, then 4 noodles & 1/3 of the remaining cheese mixture. Repeat the layers 2 more times using 1 cup sauce, 4 noodles & ½ of the remaining cheese mixture. Spread remaining sauce over top of noodles & sprinkle with ¼ cup Parmigiano.

Cover the lasagna with a sheet of baking parchment (prevents cheese sticking), and tightly cover with tin foil. Bake about 50 minutes. Let stand 15 – 20 minutes before serving.

To make the Turkey Bolognese Sauce, click here.

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Stuffed Peppers

You just can’t help but love the colours of bell peppers! So cheery! I call for ground veal but I don’t see why ground turkey, ground pork or ground beef would not be just as delicious.  A nice big spoonful of tomato sauce with herbs is just the ticket!

DSC_7090 nx2Makes 4 Peppers

2 each orange & red bell peppers, or red & green peppers
1 lb. ground veal
2 Tbsp. EVO + extra for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped fine
4 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp. dried oregano or 1 ½ tsp. fresh, chopped
½ tsp. dried basil, or 1 ½ tsp. fresh, chopped
1 Tbsp. finely chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
Chicken stock to moisten**
1 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup dried fine breadcrumbs**
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ tsp. salt & ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Tomato Sauce With Herbs, made with 1/2 cup chopped onions, sautéed until soft in EVOO before adding the remaining ingredients (see below)

Note:  You can substitute all rosemary for the oregano & basil if you like

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

While the water is coming to the boil, remove the tops & shoulders of the peppers. Remove the cores. When the water comes up to boil, add the peppers, submerging them completely, for 2 minutes. Remove from the water & drain on paper towels.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add the EVOO & heat until hot. Sauté the onions until soft; add the mushrooms, sauté for 2 minutes; add the veal, breaking up lumps with a fork & cook until no longer pink. Add the garlic & continue to sauté for 2 minutes, then add the herbs. Remove from the heat & cool for 15 minutes. Whisk the egg & add to the cooled meat mixture along with the breadcrumbs, 2 Tbsp. chicken stock to moisten, & 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano; season with the salt & pepper. Stuff the peppers with the mixture; place the stuffed peppers into a deep baking dish, just large enough to accommodate the peppers. Sprinkle a little EVOO on each one & bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until nicely browned on top.  Serve with the Tomato Sauce  spooned over top & a sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano on each pepper.  If you just happen to have some basil oil hanging about, a drizzle of that would be nice!

The peppers are very good served with tomato sauce, click  Tomato Sauce With Herbs.

If you would like to make your own stock, click Making Stock.

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Szekely Gulays (Meat Stew With Sauerkraut)

Being a huge fan of any kind of braise and Hungarian Foods, I decided to put together a veal or pork and sauerkraut stew. Oyama Sausage** makes their own sauerkraut containing only cabbage and salt. Make sure you rinse it well before using. The Gulays are excellent served with noodles, potatoes or dumplings.  Normally I make this dish in fall or winter when it’s cold or rainy or both…seems the right thing to do!

Makes 4 – 6 Servings

DSC_7067 nx22 lbs. cut up pork butt or shoulder** or stewing veal
2 Tbsp. canola oil + 1 TBSP. EVOO for browning pork
1 lb. sauerkraut, drained, rinsed,
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 each red & green pepper, cut into 1” chunks
1 cup tinned Italian tomatoes, diced
1 tsp. tomato paste
1 ½ – 2 cups cup beef stock** or tinned low/no salt beef broth
1 tsp. dried marjoram or 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh
1 tsp. caraway seeds
2 Tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika,
1/8 tsp. smoked hot paprika
1 bay leaf
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ tsp. sugar to taste
(opt.) 1 cup sour cream with 1 Tbsp. flour stirred in  (light sour cream has a tendency to curdle so I don’t recommend it)

Note: I like the addition of sour cream but will leave it up to you. Adding the flour to the sour cream not only stabilizes it but acts as a thickener to the stew.

Garnish: finely chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Make The Gulays:

Place a large, deep, ovenproof skillet over medium heat, add the oil; heat until oil is hot but not smoking. Place the pork cubes in the pan, without crowding, otherwise the meat will not brown properly. Brown on all sides; remove to a plate. Add the onions to the pan & sauté until softened, add the garlic, stirring for a minute. Add the paprika, stirring for a minute. Add remaining ingredients, except salt, pepper & sugar; cook over low heat for 1 hour or cook in a preheated 325 F oven. After the first hour stir in the peppers. Replace the lid & return to the oven for another hour. Remove from the oven; place over medium-low heat. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper & a bit of sugar to taste. Stir in the combined sour cream/flour mixture & heat until very hot, do not boil, as the sour cream will curdle, until the flour taste has cooked away, approximately 10 minutes.

An excellent source for pork is Gelderman’s.  To locate them, please see My Source List.

To locate Oyama, click My Source List.

To make your own homemade stock, click Making Stock.

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Cobb Salad

This is my adaptation of the famous salad.   I absolutely adore Cobb Salad.   From the tang of the blue cheese to the creamy avocado, crunchy lettuce, salty bacon, delicious!  Serve with homemade biscuits** or purchased rolls.  Thinking of starting a “Cobb Salad Club” for everyone I know who loves this salad as much as I do!

Makes 4 – 6 Main Course Servings

Make the Dressing:

You may need to increase the dressing if you are making recipe for 6 people.

DSC_0718.jpg nx23 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tsp. Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ cup EVO

Whisk together all dressing ingredients, except oil, in a bowl, then very slowly whisk in oil in a thin stream, until emulsified. Or you can do this in a food processor. If you like you can make the dressing 1 hour ahead and store in the fridge until needed.

Make the Salad:

3 skinless, boneless, chicken breast halves (1 ¼ lbs.)
2 ripe avocados
1 head romaine lettuce, cut crosswise into ½” slices
6 bacon slices, cooked until crisp, drained & finely chopped
18 – 24 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 – 4 oz. blue cheese or Roquefort cheese, crumbled
2 – 3 large eggs, hard-boiled, each egg cut into 4 wedges
(opt.) 1 bunch watercress, leaves removed from coarse stems
¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives or green onions

Bring 5 cups of water to a simmer in a large saucepan, add chicken & simmer, covered 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat & cover; let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate to cool completely. This can be done the day before. (You can use leftover chicken breast if you have any, say from a roast chicken). Cut the chicken into 1/2” cubes. Halve, pit & peel avocados. If you rinse them with cold water, they won’t darken for some time. Cut the avocados into slices.

Divide the romaine (& watercress if using) between 4 – 6 dinner plates. Top with the chicken, arrange the avocado slices, egg wedges & cherry tomato halves decoratively around the plate. Sprinkle with the bacon and garnish with chives or green onions.

Serve the salad, passing the dressing.

If you would like to see how to microwave bacon, click Cooking Bacon in the Microwave.

If you would like to make biscuits, click Biscuits.

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