Archive for Spring Mains – Page 2

Masala Lamb Meatballs

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I stumbled upon this recipe by Jennifer Danter in the February EAT MAGAZINE and thought “we like meatballs a lot and we like Indian food a whole lot”…sounds good to me. It calls for serving the meatballs with polenta…in my mind, not a great combination. I served it with basmati rice but next time, I think it will be great with grilled naan bread. She also suggests broiling the meatballs. I did…boy was my oven a mess! So…next time 425F oven for me or even browning on top of the stove but making sure I use my spatter guard!

Makes 4 – 6 Servings

For the Masala (Sauce):

DSC_1766 nx23 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. cumin seeds
28 oz. tin plum tomatoes
1 Tbsp. garam masala (see below for link to recipe)
1 tsp. turmeric
½ – 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. sea salt
1 cup water

For the Meatballs:

2 green onions, chopped into ½” pieces
2 egg yolks
1 slice white bread, crusts trimmed, torn into small pieces
¼ cup creamo or light cream
2 lbs. ground lamb
1 tsp. each fennel seeds & ground cumin
½ tsp. each ground cinnamon & sea salt

Garnish: fresh mint & Feta cheese (optional)

Make the Masala:

In a food processor, whirl the garlic cloves, chopped onion & grated fresh ginger until well chopped & almost pureed. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven set over medium heat; add cumin seeds. Heat until they start to sizzle, then add the onion mixture. Stir often until mixture softens & is translucent. Reduce the heat to medium-low to prevent browning, if needed. This may take 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree canned plum tomatoes (I just chopped them up and squished them with my hands) with the garam masala, turmeric & salt (add the amount of cayenne you are using too). Pour into the pan with the onions; stir in water. Simmer 20 minutes to blend flavours. If making ahead, cover & refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.

Make the Meatballs:

Makes between 18 & 20 Meatballs

In a food processor whirl the chopped green onions, 2 egg yolks, bread & the creamo until well pureed. Turn into a large bowl & add the ground lamb, fennel seeds, ground cumin, cinnamon & salt. Gently mix until blended, shape into balls, aiming for a chubby golf ball size.

Space the meatballs out on a baking sheet brushed with oil or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake in a preheated 425F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Reduce the oven to 375F. Using a slotted spoon, add the meatballs to the sauce in the Dutch oven; cover & bake until sauce is bubbly & meatballs are cooked through, approximately 15 minutes or so.

Garnish with the mint & feta if you wish.

For the recipe for garam masala, click here.

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Dreaming of Spring Chicken

Sure it’s not quite spring but as usual, I was doing freezer inventory and found a few things that should be used up. Now that the tarragon and chives are up…that for sure says spring to me. I used chicken thighs because they were there but use whatever chicken pieces you like, just time them accordingly. The chicken would be nice with roasted potatoes or rice or noodles. And the next time I serve this…because I love them…I might be tempted to make some dumplings! I suggest some white wine to have with the chicken!

Makes 4 Servings

DSC_0726 nx28 large chicken thighs, skin removed if you wish
Salt & freshly ground black pepper for seasoning the chicken
1 Tbsp. each butter and EVOO
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, trimmed & cut into 1” pieces
½ cup chopped onions
1/8 tsp. peperoncino (chili flakes) or to taste
½ cup to 2/3 cup frozen peas (petit pois are my favourite)
1 cup blanched, peeled pearl onions**see note below
½ cup dry white wine
6 – 8 oz. frozen artichoke quarters** see note below
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley
1 – 2 Tbsp. fresh tarragon
1 – 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 – 3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
1 cup homemade chicken stock** or no salt/low salt chicken broth
½ cup whipping cream
1 – 2 Tbsp. potato starch, mixed with 2 Tbsp. chicken stock

Heat a skillet that is large enough to hold all the chicken. Add the butter & EVOO & heat until hot but not so the butter browns. In the meantime, season the chicken pieces with salt & pepper.

Place the pieces of chicken into the hot pan & brown, until golden on both sides; remove to a platter & set aside while you prepare the braising liquid. Remove all the fat except for 1 – 2 Tbsp.

Add the ½ cup chopped onions to the pan & saute until softened. Add the celery, garlic & pepperoncino & stir to combine. Add the white wine to the pan & reduce by half; then add the stock & whipping cream. Return the chicken to the pan; add half the parsley, half the tarragon, the thyme leaves, bring to a boil; reduce to simmer; cover the pan & cook the chicken for 15 minutes; turn the chicken over; cover and continue to cook for another 20 minutes.

Remove the lid; add the artichokes & pearl onions; cover & simmer for another 10 minutes; add the peas & remaining herbs; cover & simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove the lid. Remove the chicken to a serving platter & keep warm in a low oven. Thicken the sauce by adding a bit of the potato starch, stock mixture until it is the consistency you wish; cook for a couple of minutes; taste for salt & pepper; add the lemon juice then pour the sauce over the chicken & scatter the chives over top. Serve immediately on warm plates.

** I have found that WholeFoods has very good frozen pearl onions and frozen artichoke quarters.

**If you would like to make homemade stock, click here.

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Phyllis’ Fish

Do you, like us, end up buying a box of Panko crumbs from Costco that seems like a lifetime supply?  Then…you will totally get our obsession to use them! We were in the mood for some Chinese Shiitake fried rice last night and really craving some fish to go with it. We picked up some B.C. Rockfish from Finest at Sea, for my source list click here, and it turned out, all golden brown, crispy and crunchy…won’t be long before we make it again! Oh…and we served it with the red chili sauce I use for my awesome coconut prawns and some Sriracha Mayo too, but tartar sauce is also wonderful with the fish.   I’m kind of thinking the fish might make a great little appy cut into smaller pieces…

DSC_9567 nx21 lb. fresh Rockfish or cod

For the Marinade:

2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For Breading the Fish:

2 large eggs
2 cups Panko crumbs, approximately
¼ cup unbleached flour, approximately
¾ cup vegetable oil for frying

To finish the fish: sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Combine the soy sauce, ginger & pepper in a large glass dish. Cut the fish into approximately 3” pieces & place in the soy marinade for 30 minutes.

Place the eggs in a shallow glass dish & beat to blend. Place the Panko crumbs on a large piece of wax paper & place the flour on another piece of wax paper.

Place the oil in a large frying pan & heat on medium-high heat. Place a few layers of paper towels on a rimmed baking sheet & set aside.

When the fish is marinated, dip the pieces into the flour, shaking off any excess, then into the beaten egg, allowing excess to drip back into the dish, then dip into the Panko crumbs, pressing to adhere if necessary. Carefully lower each piece of fish into the hot oil & fry until golden brown on either side, about 3 minutes per side, until cooked through. Remove the cooked fish to the paper towel lined baking sheet, sprinkle very lightly with the sea salt & pepper, place on a warm serving platter & serve immediately.

For the Sriracha Mayo:

Mix together, to taste, some mayonnaise (lite is fine), Sriracha sauce, a bit of freshly grated white pepper, freshly squeezed lime juice, finely grated fresh ginger & a bit of cilantro if you wish.

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Turkey and Eggplant Pastitsio

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When we get a craving for Greek food in the fall and winter, there’s only one thing to be done, either Pastitsio (sort of a Greek macaroni and cheese) or moussaka …this is the macaroni and cheese favourite. The sauce can easily be made a day or two ahead and that’s what I do. I adapted the recipe from an old “Gourmet” magazine. You can use lamb, beef or veal but I wanted to “lighten” things up!

Makes 6 – 8 Servings

DSC_1715 nx2For the Turkey Sauce:

1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. EVOO
1 lb. ground turkey
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. pepperoncino (chili flakes)
¼ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. eggplant, cut into ½” cubes
28 – 32 oz. tin crushed tomatoes

For the Cheese Sauce:

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. unbleached flour
2 cups homogenized milk
1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
1 whole garlic clove
½ lb. Greek feta cheese, crumbled, preferably Dodonis
¼ to ½ tsp. salt, or to taste
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten

For the Pasta:

10 oz. penne or ziti

Butter or spray with non-cooking spray a 3 quart baking dish & set aside.

Place the cubes of eggplant into a colander & salt with approximately 2 tsp. salt. Set the colander over a bowl to catch any drips & allow to stand up to 1 hour.

Heat approximately ¼ cup EVOO in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. In the meantime rinse the eggplant with cold water & drain on a large kitchen towel, pressing out any water. When the oil is hot/shimmering but not smoking, saute half the eggplant. When it is golden/lightly browned, remove to a rimmed baking sheet that has been lined with a few layers of paper towels. Remove the eggplant from the pan onto the paper towels with a spider or slotted spoon & saute the remaining eggplant in the same way. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. Wipe clean when cool and use to make the turkey sauce.

Make the Turkey Sauce:

Saute the onion in EVOO over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes or so. Raise the heat to medium-high & dd the turkey, saute, stirring & breaking up lumps until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, saute a minute or so add the peperoncino stir for 30 seconds then add the salt, oregano, cinnamon, sugar & pepper & saute, stirring for 2 minutes. Stir in the eggplant & tomatoes & gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Remove lid & simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes longer; season with salt & pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Make the Cheese Sauce & Cook the Pasta:

While turkey sauce is simmering, make cheese sauce & cook the pasta.

If turkey sauce has been done ahead, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 – 2 Tbsp. salt then the pasta and cook until al dente or a couple of minutes less than when it is fully cooked. Drain & set aside.

Make the cheese sauce by melting butter in a 2 qt. heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then stir in flour & cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, add the garlic & the clove & bring to a boil, still over moderate heat. Reduce heat & simmer, whisking occasionally, for 5 minutes OR…see my microwave method for doing this bit.

Remove the garlic & the clove; add the feta, salt & pepper & cook, whisking well, until cheese is well incorporated. Gradually whisk the cheese sauce into the eggs by tablespoonfuls.

Toss half the pasta with the turkey sauce & the remaining half of the pasta with the cheese sauce.

Assemble the Pastitsio:

Pour the pasta with turkey sauce into the prepared baking dish. Spoon the pasta with cheese sauce over top, spreading evenly.

Bake pastitsio, uncovered, in middle of preheated oven until bubbling & top is golden, 25 – 30 minutes. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

**To see how do make the base for the cheese sauce in the microwave, click here.

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Anne’s Pineapple Shrimp Salads

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This recipe is in homage to the lady who hired me to take over at the executive dining room of a major Canadian bank, when she retired two years later. This salad was always welcomed at the luncheons there, especially after Christmas and New Year’s pig-outs! It is very refreshing and really good. I particularly like to serve biscuits with this salad. Click on the links at the bottom of the recipe for two of my favourite biscuit recipes.

Makes 4 – 6 Servings

DSC_8695 nx2For the Salad:

1 to 1 ½ lbs. cooked shrimp
2 medium sized pineapples (the “Gold” ones are the sweetest)
2 heads butter lettuce; red butter lettuce would be very colourful

Make The Dressing:

1 cup canola oil or other light tasting oil
6 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. sugar
¾ tsp. grated fresh ginger, or more to taste
¾ cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s light is fine)
1 ½ Tbsp. ketchup (4 ½ teaspoons)
¼ tsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 to ¼ tsp. Tabasco
1/8 tsp. freshly ground white pepper

Garnish: 2 lemons cut into 8 wedges each,
cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Combine the oil, lemon juice, paprika, sugar & ginger in a jar & shake well. Place the shrimp into a large bowl. Pour half the dressing over & marinate in the fridge for an hour to blend the flavours. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the remaining dressing, mayonnaise, ketchup, Dijon mustard, Tabasco & white pepper; put aside in the fridge until ready to assemble the salads.

Remove the skin from the pineapples; quarter & remove the cores. Cut the pineapple into bite sized cubes. Tear the lettuce into pieces & arrange on individual dinner plates. Arrange the pineapple cubes in a mound on top of the lettuce; drain the shrimp & place on top of the pineapple cubes. Either drizzle with the dressing or pass dressing separately. Garnish with cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, green onions & lemon wedges.

**I particularly like this salad with Anne’s bran biscuits but my homemade buttermilk biscuits are equally good.

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Chicken Breasts or Turkey Cutlets With Irish Whiskey Sauce

A quick sauté of the chicken,  finished in the oven, make a simple pan sauce and you have dinner!  Turkey cutlets are excellent too!

DSC_6905 nx2Makes 6 Servings

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
or 6 Turkey cutlets
1 – 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
Salt & pepper
EVOO & butter

For the Sauce:

1 head of garlic, roasted & pureed
1 to 1 ½ cups of chicken stock, low salt or homemade**
1/3 cup of Irish whiskey
2 to 4 Tbsp. stoneground Dijon mustard (to your taste)
½ to 1 cup whipping cream (I like Avalon brand)
Salt & pepper to taste

Place the head of garlic on a piece of tin foil; drizzle with EVOO. Wrap up & place in a preheated 350 F oven for approximately 45 minutes or until very soft. Remove from the foil, cool then remove cloves from their skin; place on a small plate & mash with a fork. Set aside until ready to make the sauce.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Pound chicken with a mallet until the breasts are somewhat flattened & of equal depth; season with chopped rosemary & salt & pepper. In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, melt 1 Tbsp. each butter & EVOO. Sauté chicken until golden on both sides, remove to a baking sheet & place in the oven for approximately 10 minutes.  Check to ensure the chicken is done by cutting a small slit into the thickest part of the chicken to make sure no pink remains but is still nice & juicy.

A tip for prepping this ahead a bit would be to brown the chicken, place on a baking sheet, then finish in the oven at 375 F until cooked through.

To Make the Sauce:

Deglaze the sauté pan with the whiskey, scraping up any brown bits. Boil until reduced by half, then add 1 to 1 ½ cups of stock, depending on how much sauce you want. Bring back to the boil; reduce by half. Add whipping cream, starting with ½ cup, this should be enough unless you really like lots! Just before serving whisk in the garlic puree & the stoneground mustard, season to taste with salt & pepper & a bit more chopped rosemary. Place the chicken breasts on either warmed individual serving plates, top with the sauce or for family style, serve on a large platter.

I really like serving things family style these days, it’s so much more casual!

A nice accompaniment would be a barley pilaf.  For the recipe for the pilaf, click here.  I also really like to  serve the chicken with Colcannon, for the recipe, click here.

To Make your own stock, click here.

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Braised Beef With Star Anise

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Cubes of braised beef enrobed with a garlicy, gingery, star-anise sauce, does it get any better? We don’t think so! You can serve the beef with either steamed rice or Chinese noodles that have been boiled until al dente then fried in a bit of oil until hot and some crispy stir fried veggies.  When making an Asian meal, it’s nice not to have to do everything in a wok at the last minute and this dish fits the bill nicely.  I have been known to turn the leftovers into an Asian noodle soup too…tasty!

Makes 6 Servings

DSC_6793 nx22 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 lbs. stewing beef, cut into 1 ½” cubes
3 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, slivered
¼ cup light soy sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
4 tsp. grated fresh gingerroot
1 Tbsp. molasses
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
3 or 4 whole star anise
2 long strips orange rind (rind only, no pith)
1 fresh or a dried crumbled Thai chili
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/3 cup cold water

Garnish: 1 cup diagonally sliced green onions

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Heat the oil in a large deep sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat; blot the cubes of beef dry & brown in batches (making sure not to crowd the pan); adding more oil if necessary. As the meat browns, remove to a plate. Reduce the heat if it is getting too hot as you don’t want to burn the goodies on the bottom of the pan. Once the meat is browned, reduce the heat to medium & sauté the onions & garlic, stirring for about 3 minutes. Return the beef to the pan along with the soy sauce, sugar, ginger, molasses, vinegar, star anise, orange rind, chilies & 2 cups of water, scraping up brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil; cover & simmer, place in the oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until beef is tender stirring every 30 minutes. Remove orange rind & star anise; season with salt & pepper to taste. Blend cornstarch into 1/3 cup of water & stir half into the pan; cook until liquid thickens, adding cornstarch mixture if required. Place the beef & the sauce on a large serving platter & garnish with the green onions.

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What’s Up In My Kitchen


The pots have been bubbling away with all sorts of comfort foods lately!  Stew is such a good thing to have while watching the Winter Olympics!  But you don’t have to wait for them to roll around again to make some of these recipes!  Enjoy…

Something scrumptious to snack on:

This is one of the yummiest stews…beer in a stew, how can you go wrong?

Of course, it wouldn’t be our house without pasta at least once a week (frankly, I could have it every day!)

Not the normal version you would expect, but so good!

Let’s not forget a little something for dessert:

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Phyllis’ Veal Stew

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I love a really good veal stew. We buy a veal freezer pack of non-milk-fed veal from Columbus Meats** every year which includes different cuts from scaloppine to veal ribs, stew meat,  shanks and ground veal. I always like to dream up different ways to cook the veal. Here is one of them! If you change up the bacon to an equal amount of pancetta and add some soaked, dried, chopped Porcini mushrooms, you now have Italian Veal Stew! This stew would be delicious with mashed potatoes or colcannon.**

Makes 4 – 6 Servings

DSC_6601 nx23 lbs. stewing veal
Canola oil or EVOO if doing an Italian version, to brown the meat
2 shallots, chopped fine or a small onion, chopped fine
1 cup pearl onions or 8-10 small cippolline onions, blanched & peeled**
2 – 3  slices bacon, preferably gammon or double smoked, cut into ½” pieces
2 large carrots either diced or cut into large chunks
2 stalks celery, diced
3 – 4 Tbsp. flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 ½ bay leaves
2 cups 6 oz. veal stock or a combination of beef & chicken stock** or half beef & chicken no-salt broth
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, or ½ tsp. dried thyme
2 Tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tsp. salt + more if needed
¼ to ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, to your taste

**You can use frozen pearl onions if you prefer.  Add them to the stew for the last 1/2 of cooking.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the veal cubes lightly with salt & pepper. Brown the cubes, without crowding, in the hot oil. Remove the cubes to a plate as they brown. Brown the remaining cubes in the same manner.

Add the bacon to the pan & sauté until browned, but not crisp. Turn the heat down to medium-low, then add the chopped shallots or onions, carrots & celery. Sauté the veggies until the onions have softened but not browned. Add 3 Tbsp. flour to the pan & stir to combine, sauté, stirring for a minute or so. Add the white wine & stir up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Let simmer for a few minutes; add the stock or broth. Bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat down to simmer & let cook for 1 ½ – 2 hrs., or until tender. If the sauce seems a bit thin, combine a tablespoon or two flour with some stock to make a slurry. Stir into the stew & let cook for 10 minutes to cook out the taste of the flour.

TIP: my favourite way to thicken things at the end, is to use potato starch & a bit of water. It thickens quickly & you only need to cook a couple of minutes longer to thicken.

**If you would like to see how to blanch the onions, please see Blanching Vegetables.

**If you would like to make the colcannon, please see to Colcannon.

**If you would like to make your own stock, please see to How to Make Stock.

**For location of Columbus Meats, please see to My Source List.

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Dynamite Chinese Chicken Thighs

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My husband gives these his “two thumbs up.” You can absolutely substitute approximately 2 lbs. of chicken wings. The chicken can be cooked in the oven on a rack, or are perfect for the barbecue, just make sure when you barbecue them to use the “indirect” method or you’ll end up with burnt wings!  Wings would made  finger-licking good appetizers!

DSC_6561 nx26 – 8 large chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)

Make The Marinade:

2/3 cup plum sauce (we like Lee Kum Kee brand)
¼ cup liquid honey
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. peeled, finely grated fresh ginger
¼ tsp. Chinese Five-Spice Powder**
1 Tbsp. Chinese chili sauce (we use Maggi brand)
2 tsp. finely grated fresh orange rind
½ cup light soy sauce
½ cup dry sherry

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a medium sized bowl with a whisk. Place the chicken into a large glass dish & pour the marinade over top. Turn the chicken over a few times; cover with plastic wrap & place in the fridge overnight; turning the chicken over in the morning.

year of the horsePreheat the oven to 375 F. Prepare a broiler pan with a rack; oil the rack or spray with non-stick cooking spray. If cooking on the barbecue, place a drip pan in the middle of the barbecue with the charcoal on either side; place the chicken over the drip pan; cover with the lid; cook for 15 minutes, turn the chicken over & cook for approximately 12 minutes more or until the juices run clear.

Serving Note:  The chicken can be served with Chinese noodles or steamed rice & stir fried veggies.

**If you would like to make your own fragrant, delicious, home-made Chinese 5-Spice Powder, please see Chinese Five-Spice Powder.

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