here and there

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Bread- Kolach

Ukrainian Kolach
The traditional bread for Sviata Vechera (Christmas Eve) is a kolach. It is braided and formed into a circle. The top is glazed with an egg wash. Its round shape gives it its name--kolo, a circle--and may symbolize eternity or the sun. The Kolach was placed in the centre of the table with a candle in the centre which was lit at mealtime. This beautiful tradition was carried out by my Grandmother and Mother. Every Christmas Eve all of Grandmother’s children with their own children would drive from different areas in Manitoba to be with their parents on Sviata Vechera translated Holy Night. .
This recipe comes out of book Traditional Ukrainian Cookery which was given to me by my brother Vernon after living with me in Winnipeg..
1 tsp. Granulated Sugar
1 cup lukewarm Water
2 packages Dry Yeast (2 Tbsp) if you use long acting yeast, I found it worked better around my schedule. Just punch down if you get busy with the kids.
2 cups Whole Milk
3 large Eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
2 Tbs. Butter, melted
8-9 cups All-purpose Flour, sifted
1 whole Egg, beaten with 2 Tbs. Water for glaze
2 Tbs. Poppy Seeds Optional
Dissolve sugar in the lukewarm water and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let the mixture stand for about 10 minutes.

Scald the milk in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and then let cool to lukewarm, about 110-F degrees. Make sure that the milk has cooled or you will kill the yeast

In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast mixture with the warm milk, eggs, sugar, salt, and melted butter. Add 3 cups of flour and beat until smooth. Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place for about an hour. Gradually mix in the remaining flour until a soft dough forms. Be careful in how much flour you add as you want the dough to be soft but yet not stick.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough appears smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat with the oil. Cover and let rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size. Push down the dough and let rise for another hour, or until doubled in size again.

Divide the dough into three equal parts. On a lightly floured surface, divide one portion into three equal parts. Roll each portion into a 10-inch to 12-inch rope. Braid the three ropes together, starting at the middle and working your way out to both ends. Join the ends together to form a braided ring, leaving the center open. To have a nice base and a higher loaf, flatten a small ball of dough and place on the bottom of pan then place your braid on top of this disk of dough

Repeat the rolling and braiding process with the two remaining portions of dough.

Place the loaves on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until almost double in size. Brush the loaves with the egg-and-water glaze and sprinkle with poppy seeds. You do not need to let it double in size as it does rise in the oven. It will retain a nicer shape if you don’t let it rise to long.

Bake in a pre-heated 375-F degree oven for about 45 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks. Serve warm or store in an airtight container for use later. Nellie always baked her baking at a lower temperature so it would not burn, but then you need to increase the length of baking.
Christmas Kolach (Makes 3 Loaves)

Since the earliest times, tribes of Ukrainian peoples have inhabited this naturally abundant corner of the world, with its fertile fields and rich, dark soil.
Living in close harmony with the land, early Ukrainians had a deep understanding of the power of nature, so it's only natural that many of their holiday specialty recipes reflect the natural goodness of the land.

Today, you may find Christmas Kolach served at holiday tables where all family members are made welcome.
At the feasts of the Christmas season, they celebrate the holidays along with the living, the departed, and the yet-to-be-born.
My mom Nellie or her next door neighbour who would make this for her in GP never used poppy seed to sprinkle on the , also Mrs Maksymetz used a little sugar so her Kolach was always very light colored. Also Mrs M’s did not let her Christmas bread rise a lot before baking as it kept its shape and the braids were tighter than the picture shown.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Your most memorable family recipes


By Eleanor Stadnyk of Saskatoon, SK
December 10, 2008


Submitted by Eleanor Stadnyk of Saskatoon, SK, in loving remembrance of her mother, Mary, a Canadian pioneer.

Eleanor grew up on a Manitoba farm in the 1950's. Her mother, Mary, raised seven children, washed clothes with an old wringer machine, maintained a huge garden and fed everyone, from the family, farm hands and men displaced by the depression. Her husband Nick bought her first stove for $2.50 from Mr. Haney. The stove had a hole in it, which Mary patched with a cement made from ashes, salt and water. “It was a wonderful stove,” said Mary, “sure baked good bread. It baked everything.”

Nine miles from town, the family was often snowed in during the long, cold and white winters. One year, food supplies were limited to meat and that which was already in the cellar; a bin of potatoes and countless jars of canned vegetables and fruits. The cows had dried up and the chickens had stopped laying. The mandarin oranges normally eaten at Christmas had become a wistful memory of something bright and fresh.

Spring thaw brought rain and mud but little relief to the table. Money seemed tighter than ever on the farm. Eventually, the chickens began laying and the cows gave milk. Eleanor will never forget the day there was something new on the table for lunch; a puffy, golden omelette bursting with the first green shoots from the garden. What a sensation!

Eleanor's grandparents immigrated from the Ukraine in 1896.

6 whole eggs slightly beaten

5 tbsp. milk

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup or more green onions

o Preheat oven to 350 F.

o Combine all ingredients.

o Pour into buttered casserole.

o Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Note: Be careful not to over bake. Check to see if it's done at 12 minutes.
© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pampusky, cabbage roll.. preparing for Christmas Eve

Last week when my sister was visiting her son, her daughter in law hosted the second annual Christmas cooking bee at her house. Last year we did peroghies but this year pampusky were made as Keele wanted to learn how to make this Ukrainian delicacy. We also made two types of cabbage roll- buckwheat ones and white rice filled cabbage rolls or Pisni Holubts (Meatless Cabbage Rolls) for Christmas Eve. This year half year old twins were added to the mix and who decided they wanted to be part of the goings on. Jase had fun in his jolly jumper, where as Kate decide she would be happier on the floor and would protest when she reached a block, like right against her brother in the jolly jumper. The two year old spent her time admiring her decorated cookies that she had baked with her grandmother.

The Pampusky recipe that we used was out of the Roblin, Manitoba church cookbook that the ladies from that area had compiled. The dough was first made so that it could proof while the fillings and cabbage were prepared for the cabbage rolls. The rice and the buckwheat for the cabbage rolls had been made previously and chopped onion had been fried until soften and a Carmel color.
Preparation of Cabbage

In preparing the cabbage, use a sharp paring knife to remove the centre core from the head of the cabbage.
In a large pot bring to boil water and then steam the cabbage until the leaves are tender and you can remove the leaves easily without tearing the leaves. Lift the cabbage from the water to be able to remove the leaves more easily and return to the pot when you are unable to take of any more of the leaves and repeat the process to further blanch the cabbage.
Chill the leaves in cold water then drain and dry the cabbage leaves.
Trim the thick centre vein from the bottom of the leaf
The smaller leaves can be used as is where as the larger leaves are cut in half.
(As an alternative, you can also microwave the cabbage to soften the leaves: Place the cabbage in a bowl with about 2 tbsp of water, cover, then microwave on 'High' for about 12 minutes, depending on the power of the microwave and size of the cabbage head).
My Mom’s cabbage rolls were the size of my fingers and rolled. ..She placed a small portion of the filling into the center off each cabbage leaf and then rolled the leaf around the filling; where as my sister makes little packages by folding the sides over the filling, then rolling the leaf up tightly.

Buckwheat cabbages rolls were not served at my Grandmother’s and Mom’s place so I do not make them; Mom always made meatless cabbage rolls in a tomato sauce all year round, whereas my sister’s husband’s family makes buckwheat cabbage rolls for Christmas Eve,
My cabbage rolls are very plain with only white rice filling and no onions. The cabbage rolls are packed into a buttered casserole and a can of tomato soup is poured over the top of the cabbage rolls with dabs of butter and seasoning. Arrange the cabbage rolls with the seam side down in the cabbage lined baking pan.

The casserole is easy to do in the microwave using the auto sensor. If using the oven to bake the cabbage rolls, you need to line your pan and cover your cabbage rolls with the larger cabbage leaves to prevent burning.
Bake at a slow oven 325 degrees for 1 to 2 hours until leaves are tender.

Making Pampusky
After the sweet dough had proofed for an hour, the dough was shaped around cooked and some uncooked prunes. The dough was rolled out ¼ inch thick, cut into small rounds with a cookie cutter or small glass. Place spoonful of filling in center, bring dough up around the filling, make small ball and seal very carefully. Place on floured waxed paper and let doughnuts rise about 1 hour. Leave them uncovered to form a crust on the dough as then they will absorb less
fat when fried. Fry in hot oil (400 degrees) about 2 minutes on each side. Doughnuts should turn themselves, but some may not and will have to be turned. When golden brown, drain on a rack and sprinkle with sugar when cool.
Mom filled the pampusky with prunes and poppy seed filling. She also used sauerkraut as filling when she made her own sauerkraut. The sweet and sour flavour of sauerkraut complimented the sweet dough. I was practically fond of these triangle filled goodies. Interesting enough this must have been her recipe as I could not find any recipes using sauerkraut as a filling in the sweet dough.


Mom’s pampusky were triangle shaped and the first time I made these, I also shaped them as triangles but they rose so much that they opened up and looked like cow’s lips... However, they were still delicious even though the poppy seeds spilled out and made a mess of the oil. I always used my wok as it requires less oil then a fryer. Last week we did use the fryer, a wedding gift from my Mom’s sister, Mary. In using the fryer, the temperature is controlled better as with each new batch added to be fried the temperature of the oil in the wok drops.

--> However, we did run into problems while using the fryer outside as by having the dough outside it chilled too much and the pampusky took longer to warm up to cook and therefore absorbed more oil.

--> The afternoon was a productive one, and we enjoyed homemade curried sweet potato and chick pea soup and toasted Pat’s birthday with prosecco that I had brought. However, my sister felt that we had too many projects going and that the visit was not as good as we had making peroghies last year. I guess next year we will be making perogies.

--> The sweet dough recipe that I use is from “Traditional Ukrainian Cookery” by S. Stechishin which according to is available for $260.46.




POPPY SEED FILLING: The night before, cover poppy seeds with boiling water and let them soak until the following morning, or wash and parboil for 30 minutes just before grinding. Drain thoroughly and grind in a poppy-seed grinder, or put them through the finest blade of your meat chopper 3 or 4 times. I use a coffee grinder for this. (or buy ground poppy seeds if there is a store near you that prepares them, but be sure they are not rancid.).
Cream butter with honey. When well blended, combine with cream, poppy seeds and remaining filling ingredients. (Some people prefer to omit the butter and to cook the ground poppy seeds with 2 cups milk and the honey until the mixture is thick. The other ingredients are then stirred in.).
FOR THE DOUGHNUTS: Sprinkle yeast into warm water, add 1 tablespoon sugar, cover lightly and set aside in a warm place for 5 to 10 minutes, or until mixture. Scald milk and stir in butter, salt and sugar. When butter melts, cool milk to lukewarm. Combine with beaten eggs and yolks and yeast mixture, vanilla and lemon rind. Gradually beat in enough flour to make a medium firm dough that is still pliable. Knead until smooth and elastic—about 10 minutes. Place dough in a floured bowl, dust with flour and set to rise in a draft free corner until double in bulk—about 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down and let it rise again until doubled.
Turn dough onto a floured board and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into circles with a 3-inch round cookie cutter. Place a teaspoonful of filling on half of the circles. Top with unfilled circles and pinch edges closed, using a little cold water to seal them. Let rise, uncovered, on floured board until doubled in bulk.
Fry a few at a time in lard heated to 375°F Turn once so both sides become golden brown. Allow about 6 minutes for frying each batch. Drain on paper towel and sprinkle with sugar . Makes about 2 dozen doughnuts.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Prune Torte -Grandma's Kitchen creativity honoured

Grandma's kitchen creativity honoured

By Donna Gray, For Neighbours January 8, 2009

A few weeks back, we announced a cookbook contest featuring memories and recipes from your grandmothers.
Many readers responded with lovely memories, as well as tried-and-true dishes that stand the test of time and taste.
Our first winner, Marilyn Kennedy, wrote a lovely memoir of her grandmother Anna's culinary legacy. Her family hails from Manitoba, where she says favourite recipes were passed from one generation to another.
"It's part of the tradition growing up on the Prairies," she says. "My mom made a cookie made with lard and sandwiched with a date filling which I recognized as my grandmother's recipe. I loved them hot."
A second recipe is a vine torte, also called an Icelandic cake, given to her by a friend in Winnipeg.
"As I was making the cake and rolling out all the pieces of the torte and placing them on cookie sheets to bake, I suddenly had a memory of my grandmother making this cake along with the delectable smell of these cardamom-flavoured cakes as they came out of the oven. It was the same recipe as my grandmother's, but she called it a prune torte."
Kennedy has included the recipe for the filling as well. Stay tuned for next week's winner. Thanks again to Whitecap books for donating the Purity and Red Roses Flour cookbooks (
Prune Torte1 cup (250 mL) butter
2 cups (500 mL) sugar
4 beaten eggs 2 tbsp (30 mL)milk
4 cups (1kg)siftedflour
1 tsp (5 mL) cardamom
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
Cream butter and sugar, add the egg and milk. In another bowl, sift together two cups of flour, cardamom and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to first mixture, Take remaining flour and gradually add until you have a dough stiff enough to roll. Divide dough into seven to eight equal parts. Cut out the dough on the cookie sheet using an 8-or 9-inch cake pan as the template. Bake at 375° for 15-to-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and layer with prune fillings.
Prune filling
1 lb (450 g) of prunes (boiled and mashed)
1/2 cup (125 mL) of sugar (optional or to taste)
1 -2 tbsp (15-30 mL) of rum
Mix together and put prune filling between the layers of cake. This cake needs to mellow. The cookie base becomes soft and moist and easy to cut. Once it is mellow, this cake freezes well. Cut in small pieces as it's very rich.

Got a recipe to share or a request for a special dish? E-mail me at or fax to 403-235-7379 and mark attention: recipe box. Include your name, address, phonenumber and e-mail in the information. You can also snail mail it to recipe box, Calgary Herald Neighbours, box 2400, Station M, Calgary, Alberta, T2P 0W8.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Spring Rolls , Samosas with Three different fillings

Spring Rolls, shootings, Samosas and dryer repair man Murphy

Happy New Year! As the New Year beginnings it does so in the hold of a cold weather, minus 28 and tons of snow on the ground. After a drive to Lina’s Italian Supermarket for appetizers for New Year, experiencing a scary ride home with a dirty car wind shield as the summer windshield washer fluid was frozen solid, my car has sat in the yard, frozen and unable to be started.. Driving has been difficult all holiday season due to the conditions. Since supplies in the groceries stores this holiday season seems to be lacking, my daughter and I had not been able to make springs rolls on New Year Eve as we had the previous New Year’s Eve. Consequently my daughter and her friend drove around on New Year’s Day looking for spring rolls. The next day in the paper, I woke up to seeing the first New Year homicides of 2009 resulting from a shooting at a Vietnamese restaurant on Macleod, a restaurant that we have frequented. Springs rolls became the order of the day! I decided to make the spring rolls out of ground chicken in my freezer that I had instead of ground pork. I made them the same as I usually did but since the taste in using chicken was not as favourable as the ground pork, I ended up making two batches and then a third as the tasting that went on as my daughter taste tested springs to get the perfect taste quickly reduced the pile of spring rolls quickly. The first batch was with Chinese instant vermicelli noodles and then I left out the noodles as the blandness of the noodles and the chicken needed more seasoning. I also did add chopped onions to this second batch. I use Doll spring roll wrappers and I seemed to be having problems with the wraps cracking and falling apart. I had noticed previously that if the package was frozen for a while in my deep freeze the wrapper were not easy to work with and lacked moisture in the wrapper itself. This time I had three packages all different ages and still all three were not easy to roll out into spring rolls. Even though the packages are sealed, the wrappers seem to dry out. I actually had to soak the wrappers under running tap water to make them flexible. The recipe I followed was similar to the restaurant in Regina that we frequented, but we did not deep fry them. My daughter, fried the first taste test in a caste iron fry pan with oil, but baking them in a toaster oven with and without spraying them with oil was just as delicious. Yes, we taste tasted as we went along. The next day at our delayed annual New Year’s Day meat fondue, the reviews were also great as well as my son’s fiancé who acknowledges the spring rolls in her own words as being “ actually good!..

Spring Rolls Mixture

Fried ground pork.
Finely Chopped cabbage
Grated carrots
Chopped Spring onions (omitted this in first batch)
Grated fresh ginger
Grated fresh garlic
Instant Vermicelli noodles (soak in hot water first, drain when soft and add to mixture)
1 -2 tablespoon of soya sauce
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
And in this case a dash of sesame seed oil
Freshly ground pepper and hot chilli flakes

The day of our delayed annual New Year’s Meat fondue, the dryer‘s thermostat went and, Murphy the repair man eyed the rolls as I was packaging up them up for my daughter to take back with her, I causally asked him if his wife used the same wrappers for Samosas. Much to my surprise in his time in my house as he repaired the dryer, I received recipes and also a philosophical approach to life based on the Muslim perspective. . Before anyone can understand another person’s culture, i.e. master ethnic recipes, one need to first understand one own culture and especially one self.. Not a bad philosophy to start the New Year. This he repeated a few times as he had me write his recipes for Samosas. Before leaving this philosophy revolved to what was happening in the Palestine and that the Muslins will not tolerate having their religion diluted or disregarded!!

..Here are his recipes that he dictated and watched as I wrote them down

He had suggested I use the Samosas wrappers art superstore but I mentioned that they were pricey; he said the same wrappers I used for the springs could be used here too, as did another friend

Three different fillings for Samosas
Ground Sirloin steak, chopped spring onions, minced garlic, minced ginger, salt, hot chilli flakes, a little bit of curry pulv and coriander

The second filling used diced potatoes that were boiled and cooled, peas, diced carrots and the same spices as in the meat filling.

The third filling was using mixed lentils, cooked first and again the same spices.

Using the mixtures he also emphasized that they were the bases of other recipes... The meat mixture could be used to make what he considered the true kebabs, by adding bread crumbs to the meat mixture, one could shape the mixtures into circular or sphere shaped kebabs on a skewers, then BBQ them and serve in Pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes and onions for a delicious sandwich. He also dipped these kebobs into egg wash and bread crumbs to fry as meat balls.

He also used the fillings as stuffing for mashed potatoes. He would make patties from the potatoes and use the filling to be sandwiching between the patties, then fry the potatoes until golden..

He also said the same fillings could be used as a sauce for pasta. By adding some tomatoes paste, chopped fresh tomatoes and liquid to the fillings, this sauce could be used on cooked pasta.

Here is a You Tube site that demonstrates making Samosas from scratch
INGREDIENTS: This recipe will make 8 Samosas. FOR CRUST1/2 cup all purpose flour 1/2 tablespoon sooji1/4 teaspoon salt1 tablespoons+ 1 teaspoon oil1/4 cup -1tablespoon look warm waterFOR FILLING3 red large potatoes 1/2 cup green peas2 chopped green chilly seeded1 teaspoon grated ginger½ teaspoon cumin seed1 teaspoon coriander powder½ teaspoon garam masala (garam masala is a mixture of different spices) 1 teaspoon mango powder2 tablespoons oil

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

eating out-Sky 360

After reading about the Sky 360 in Herald in the fall, we were most eager to try out the restaurant and enjoy the great view. A Tower salad simply served on a white plate was an organic spring mix with goat’s cheese along with tomato, cucumber and baby carrots and white Balsamic vinaigrette and was a sizable serving. Both of my companions were disappointed as both did expect some height to this salad based on the name. The salad lacked imagination or skill as it could easy be duplicated having a box of spring mix from any Supermarket. I ordered the feature of the day which was described as Tuna Carpaccio and Tuna Tartare with avocado and cucumber salad. The daily features are not written out but recited by the server. This was an attractive dish but the word salad was a bit misleading. Paper thin sliced marinated cucumber slices were arranged in a small circle with a small piece of tuna marinated in lime arranged on top. A deconstructed Tuna Tartate was served shaped by two spoons as an avocado salad and diced Tuna served with three crostini. The large white plate this was served on was laughable as the portions were lost on this huge plate. It would have been much better for the three of us to have tasted this dish as it was delicious but left me hungry and wishing I had ordered something else. For our entrees, my husband ordered the Herb crusted rack of lamb with mashed potatoes, zucchini & pepper ragout with a truffle honey mustard jus. The lamb which he ordered medium rare was over cooked much to his disappointment. Our American companion and I ordered the pan seared Beef tenderloin with wine jus medium rare along with the Asiago and potato gratin. The 6 oz of beef was thinly sliced and arranged over the gratin with 2 small beets with its greens tucked under the gratin. Again the meat was dry and over cooked and bitter to taste along with being over salted. In the Calgary Herald’s January 14, 2009, Eric Akis wrote about trying “a little TLC for beef tenderloin as it's the most expensive cut of beef, and the most tender, but yet some chefs still don't give it respect: The gratin was delicious. In ordering a glass of white wine, the waiter indicated that they may be out of Sauvignon; I stated that any white wine that was dry, tart and citrus tasting would be fine. In my opinion a Sauvignon is a good wine for food as I do not like the taste of red wine, mainly the oak flavour. The wine he brought me was spicy and smokey, flavored with oak , when questioned about the wine and that I did not like the Oak tasting wine and wanted something more tart and citrus, his solution was to pour me a glass of red wine that my husband had ordered and leave the glass of white wine in front of me. Although the restaurant was not busy, our waiters serve was too task-driven as he would interpret conversation for his purpose.
Tuna Tartare Ina Garten
3 3/4 pounds very fresh tuna steak
1 1/4 cups olive oil
5 limes, zest grated
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 1/2 teaspoons wasabi powder
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons hot red pepper sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups minced scallions, white and green parts (12 scallions)
3 1/4 tablespoons minced fresh jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
5 ripe Hass avocados
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, optional
Cut the tuna into 1/4-inch dice and place it in a very large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, wasabi, soy sauce, hot red pepper sauce, salt, and pepper. Pour over the tuna, add the scallions and jalapeno, and mix well. Cut the avocados in half, remove the seed, and peel. Cut the avocados into 1/4-inch dice. Carefully mix the avocado into the tuna mixture. Add the toasted sesame seeds, if using, and season to taste. Allow the mixture to sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour for the flavors to blend. Serve on crackers.
How to Make Tuna Carpaccio
Serving tuna in a Carpaccio style is a great way to experience the texture and flavor of the fish. Most tuna Carpaccio recipes call for the raw fish to be marinated in lemon juice, however this is a bit different in that limes are used.
Things You’ll Need:
1 pound of fresh tuna
5 limes
2 tbsp. of capers
4 tbsp. of olive oil
1/4 cup of chopped sweet onion
Go to your local fish market, and ask for a 1 pound block of fresh tuna.
Upon arriving home, trim any skin off of the outside of the block of tuna.
Slice the entire block of tuna into thin strips. Do your best to cut them all the same width so that they marinate evenly.
Cut the limes into halves and juice them into a large bowl. Take care to make sure that no seeds end up in the juice.
Add the olive oil, capers and chopped onion to the lime juice. Lightly stir the ingredients to mix the flavors.
Place the strips of tuna into a rectangular container, and pour the lime juice mixture over it. Make sure that all of the tuna strips are entirely covered, and place the container into the refrigerator.
Allow the tuna Carpaccio to chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour. At this point, it will have turned color from a dark red to gray. The tuna has been "cooked" by the lime juice, and is now ready to serve.
Pan-seared Filet Mignon ( Beef Tenderloin ) with Shiraz Sauce
4 Servings
Simple, impressive and elegant. The sauce is very concentrated in flavor and velvety in consistency.
0 : 20
0 : 10

4 (8-ounce) center-cut filets mignons*, 2-inches thick, trimmed of fat and silver
2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary (optional)
Olive oil
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
-- Shiraz Sauce (optional) --
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
1/2 cup Shiraz or other bold red wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup beef stock (preferably homemade), or beef consomme

Instructions for Pan-seared Filet Mignon (Beef Tenderloin) with Shiraz Sauce
* Note: I usually buy a 2 to 2 1/2-pound center-cut tenderloin roast and portion it into four 8-ounce steaks myself to produce more consistent results.Bring steaks to room temperature before cooking. Thoroughly dry steaks with paper towels. Lightly coat steaks with olive oil and season both sides liberally with salt and pepper (pressing seasonings into meat with your fingers). Gently press sides of steaks until uniform 2-inches thick.Set a 10-inch heavy-bottomed ovenproof pan or cast-iron skillet on a rimmed baking sheet and place both on oven rack adjusted to lower-middle position, and heat oven to 500 degrees F. When oven reaches temperature (about 15 to 20 minutes), remove skillet from oven and transfer to stove top over high heat (be careful -- pan and handle will be extremely hot).Immediately place steaks in skillet, being careful that they are not touching each other. Sear steaks for 2 to 3 minutes without disturbing, turn with tongs and sear second side another 2 to 3 minutes without disturbing, or until both sides are well-browned and have a nice crust. Remove skillet from heat, and using tongs, transfer steaks to hot baking sheet in oven. (After transferring steaks to oven, proceed with pan sauce.)Roast 4 to 6 minutes for rare (red in center and warm throughout), 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare (pinkish red in center and fairly hot), or 8 to 10 minutes for medium (pink in center, grayish brown surrounding and hot throughout). Remember, residual heat built up in steaks will continue to cook the meat until it begins to cool off, meat temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after it is removed from the oven. This means you should undercook your steaks, removing them from oven before they reach desired temperature.When steaks are done to your liking, transfer to large plate. Double check doneness by thermometer (rare - 130 to 140 degrees F, medium-rare - 140 to 150 degrees F, medium - 150 to 160 degrees F), or touch (very rare feels soft and squishy, rare is soft to the touch, medium-rare yields gently to the touch, while medium yields only slightly to the touch and is beginning to firm up, and medium-well is firm to the touch). Tent steaks loosely with foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes, allowing steaks to finish cooking from residual heat, and meat juices to redistribute and settle before serving. Serve as individual steaks or slice just before serving on warmed plates.Shiraz Sauce: After transferring steaks to oven, melt 1 tablespoon butter in same skillet with fond (brown bits in pan leftover from cooking) and residual fat that it was cooked in. Add shallots and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes.Raise heat to medium-high, add wine, and bring to a boil. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir and scrap to loosen any flavorful browned bits stuck to skillet and incorporate them into sauce. When wine is almost gone, add stock, herbs (if using dry herbs, just a pinch), tomato paste and sugar, bring to a boil and cook until reaching the sauce consistency you desire. It should be thick enough to coat back of a regular spoon.Remove from heat, whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons cold butter until melted and sauce is thickened, smooth, and glossy. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir in any accumulated juices from the steak plate. Spoon sauce over cooked steaks just before serving.Safety Note:Doneness is an issue of personal preference. However, it is recommended that beef be cooked to medium-rare doneness, the internal temperature should reach 145 degrees F to ensure that harmful bacteria have been destroyed. A thick cut of beef that has been cooked to an internal temperature of 140 degrees F, may be removed from the oven, loosely covered, and allowed to rest a few minutes. The temperature will continue to rise about 5 degrees F, reaching proper doneness.
Asiago Potato Gratin.
Ingredients (12 servings)
5 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 cups Asiago cheese (coarsely grated)
2 tbsps butter
1 cup of heavy cream
Salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
Butter a 9" by 13" pyrex baking dish
Peel and thinly slice potatoes using a mandoline
Layer potatoes into the pan and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cheese
Continue to apply layers of potatoes, cheese, and salt and pepper until the potatoes reach the top, pressing lightly from time to time
Pour cream into the dish and over potatoes, taking care that the cream covers the top
Place dish in oven and bake for about an hour (the top will brown and the cheese and cream will be bubbly)
Allow to cool before serving
Cook's Notes--We allow the gratin to cool and set in the freezer. When it is set, we use a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut rounds. We place the rounds on a baking sheet sprayed with Baker's Joy and re-heat just prior to serving. Garnish by pressing a rosemary sprig into the rounds.

Herb-crusted rack of lamb
IngredientsFor the crustlarge handful flatleaf parsley, coarsely chopped2 garlic cloves, crushed1 fresh thyme sprig, roughly chopped2 fresh rosemary sprigs, roughly choppedhandful breadcrumbsFor the vinaigrette5 tbsp olive oil2 tbsp balsamic vinegarsalt and freshly ground pepperFor the vegetables6-8 cherry tomatoesolive oil, to drizzlesalt and freshly ground black peppera few fresh thyme leaves4 baby fennel, cut in half at an angle50-100ml/1¾fl oz-3½fl oz water knob of butter2 baby courgettes, sliced into thick pieces at an anglea few basil leaves, tornFor the lamb100g/3½oz butter1 tbsp olive oil2 racks (best end of neck) lamb, French-trimmed (ask your butcher to do this for you)1 fresh rosemary sprig, roughly chopped2 garlic cloves, crushed1-2 tsp Dijon mustard

Method1. Preheat the oven to 170C/340F/Gas 3.2. For the herb crust, combine the parsley, the crushed garlic cloves, the thyme and the rosemary in a food processor and blend to a pulp. Add the breadcrumbs and pulse together. Tip the breadcrumb mixture onto a tray and set aside.3. For the vinaigrette, whisk the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and freshly ground black pepper together in a small bowl and set aside.4. For the vegetables, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and spread on a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and sprinkle a few thyme leaves over. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, until semi-dry.5. Preheat the oven to its highest setting. 6. For the lamb, heat the butter in an ovenproof pan and add the olive oil. Place the lamb in the pan along with the remaining rosemary sprig and crushed garlic cloves and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side until browned. As it is searing, baste the meat with the pan juices and cover the bones with foil. Transfer the lamb to the oven and roast for 4-5 minutes. 7. Remove the lamb from the oven and allow it to rest for five minutes. Once the lamb has rested, brush it with the Dijon mustard and roll the meat in the breadcrumb mixture to coat. Return to the oven for a further 4-5 minutes, then remove and allow to rest again.8. For the vegetables, heat a little oil in a frying pan and lightly cook the fennel with the water and a knob of butter for a few minutes to soften. Add the courgettes a continue cooking for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl, add the semi-dried tomatoes and a drizzle of the vinaigrette. Stir in a few torn basil leaves.9. To serve, spoon the vegetables onto the centre of four serving plates. Carve the lamb into cutlets and arrange on top. Drizzle lightly with the remaining vinaigrette and serve.
Zucchini Ragout
2008, Michael Symon
3 ounces olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, large diced
1 yellow pepper, large diced
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
4 zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups fresh basil leaves
Heat an 8-quart saucepan over medium heat with olive oil. Add the onion and garlic, and sweat for 2 minutes. Add the peppers and saute for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and zucchini, and cook down for 10 more minutes. Add the vinegar and simmer for 2 more minutes. Check seasonings and remove from heat. Add the basil and serve.
Avocado, Tomato and Mozzarella Tower Salad
Photo: California Avocado Commission
YIELD: 24 servings
2 lbs., 4 oz. fresh mozzarella, small dice4 lbs. California avocados, small dice 2½ lbs. tomatoes, small dice salt, as needed white balsamic vinegar, as needed micro greens, as needed hot chili oil, as needed
1. In a 3-in. ring mold, layer ¼ cup mozzarella, ⅓ cup avocado and ¼ cup tomato. Repeat with remaining 23 molds.
2. Using a spatula, slide each mold onto a rack over a sheet pan to drain; refrigerate until service.
3. Per portion: Slide 1 ring mold onto a serving plate; carefully remove ring mold. Lightly sprinkle with salt and lightly drizzle with vinegar. Garnish with micro greens and drops of chili oil.
Recipe by Robert Noble, Dining and Culinary Senior Manager, Sodexo Senior
Ingredients4 Tbsp Micro Pepper or Micro Watercress10 oz.’s wt. Dungeness Crab Salad – recipe follows12 each slices Grapefruit, Red or Pink – fresh, sections, membrane removed8 each slices Avocado – sliced 1/4" lengthwise4 Tbsp Tomato-Thyme Emulsion – recipe follows
Dungeness Crab Salad3/4 cup Crabmeat, Dungeness – fresh, lightly squeezed2 ¾ tsp Celery – minced, very fine1 Tbsp Onion, White – minced, very fine1 ½ tsp Chives – sliced 1/8" 2 Tbsp Creamy Lemon-Chive Dressing – see recipe1/2 Avocado – fresh, firm but tender, diced 1/8"
Mix the crab, celery, onion, chives together. Then add the dressing.
Fold together the two ingredients carefully as to not break up all of the crab meat.
Right before serving add the diced avocado fold it in together with the crabmeat.
Tomato Thyme Emulsion Dressing 1 Tbsp Onion Juice – fresh, white 3 Tbsp Tomato Paste – double concentrate1/4 cup Tomato, Red Roma – ripe, peeled, seeded, diced 1/4"1/4 cup White Balsamic Vinegar2 Tbsp Sugar – granulated 3/4 tsp Thyme – fresh, leaves only, chopped1/4 tsp Black Pepper – ground1/8 tsp Pepper, White – ground1/2 cup Olive Oil
Place all ingredients, except oil, into the a blender and blend until pureed. Then slowly drizzle in the oil.
Cover, label, and refrigerate at least 12 hours for flavors to blend. Stir thoroughly before using.
To Serve
Place a 2" plastic ring in the center of the plate, fill the ring with the crab salad, lightly press the salad down into the ring, and pull the ring off.
Place the grapefruit and avocado slices on the right side of the crab salad tower, fanned toward the bottom of the plate.
Next starting with a large drop on the upper left side of the plate and working down toward the bottom of the plate, place four more drops smaller in size each time. Top the crabmeat tower with the micro cress. Serve

On Jan 18th, 2009 we drove out to Canmore after mass to celebrate a birthday. The place was called Rustica and was at the Silver tip resort. The rustic décor of maple wood framing and rustic huge fireplace with a blazing fire provide a warm and inviting atmosphere. The menu offered a four course meal for 40 dollars. After ordering our meal, a small bite size appetizer of mackerel pate in Choux Pastry on mustard greens arrived, then followed by a basket of freshly baked herb bread, dilled flatbread and breadsticks, along with a dish with three spreads or dips for the bread; Blueberry Sage Jam, caramelized onion & apple butter, and balsamic vinegar & oil.

As a starter, I had Seafood Nage, Carrot Spaghetti. It arrived in small covered casserole dish with fresh scallops and mussels in a warm cream base with spaghetti like carrots.

Bill chose the Warm Salad of Camembert , which was a baked spring roll with camembert filling on a fig puree and balsamic sauce centred on a bed of mustard greens.

Next, I had the High Country Bison Short Rib served in a soup bowl on top of butternut squash risotto and peppercorn jus. The ribs were tender and delicious.
Bill was impressed with the Pan Seared Digby Scallop
milefeuile of potato, parmesan velouté, truffle oil

As my main dish, I had medium raw Alberta AAA Beef Tenderloin served on celery puree, decorated with green beans, and served with a side dish of peppercorn hollandaise. The celery puree did not add to this dish.
Bill was even more pleased with the Buffalo Rib eye Pommes frites which were tiny shoestring size potatoes deep fried as a garnish, but he did find the wild mushroom ragout a little too salty.

The meal ended with coffee and a tropical fruit and cashew custard pie. The pie had coconut in the custard and the waiter felt that the cashews were in the pie crust.
. The food was not only attractive to look at it was also delicious. My only suggestion would be to offer more dishes with vegetables and salads , the menu feature most meat and seafood with some vegetable garnishes. The service was excellent and very attentive. I think that the second basket of bread was not necessary although we then did get to sample red onion and wine jam and parsley flavoured butter. The merlot from Kettle Creek was a nice compliment to the meal. The meal lasted just under 3 hours and the last time I had such attention was for my Birthday in a Winnipeg restaurant La Vieille Gare in the seventies. Formerly the old train station of St. Boniface, this Winnipeg landmark built in 1913, was the arrival point in Manitoba for many immigrants and was converted to a restuarant in 1969. I remember having flamed Cornish game hen stuffed with rice and sitting on fresh pineapple half. Not to mention the fine service we recieved even though there was only the two of us in the restaurant during the middle of the week..