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Posts from the ‘Recipes’ Category

Preserved Lemons

I picked up a bag of Meyer lemons at Granville Island and preserved them to use in several recipes that I have collected. Typically, preserved lemons are used in Moroccan and Middle Eastern cooking but, since gaining in popularity in North America, they are turning up in a wide range of recipes for salads, pastas, relishes and desserts. Read more

In Praise of the February Braise

Braised Halibut with Garbanzo Beans and Chorizo
Braised Halibut 2

Braising is one-pot cooking at its finest and this halibut dish is a simple and comforting way to usher in February in Vancouver. While I would not normally buy halibut out of season, I found this recipe online at redonline and decided to test it with halibut fillets. The combination of smokey, spicy chorizo sausage, garbanzo beans (the original recipe called for chickpeas which are similar but smaller), and tomatoes, produces a deep and complex flavour that would complement many less expensive types of fish and chicken too. We ate this with a crunchy baguette to dip into the sauce.

Braising is a combination cooking method using both dry and moist heat and one pot from start to finish. Mostly, this method is used to slowly cook tough cuts of meat to tenderize them while producing a flavourful sauce. The difference in this recipe is that the sauce is cooked for an hour to develop its flavour, then the fish is added, making it a good dish for entertaining because you can make the sauce hours or even a day in advance, then reheat it on the stove, plunk in the fish and finish in the oven.

Here I have used a copper casserole that belonged to my mother, but any heavy pan with a snug lid will work as long as it is large enough to accommodate the fish in one layer.

Braised Halibut

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 ½ hours

2 links Spanish or Mexican chorizo, cooked or uncooked
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1-14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 c. dry white wine
2 c. chicken stock
4 x 6oz. thick fillets halibut
2 T. fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat a flameproof casserole dish until medium hot, then add the chorizo and fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oil is released. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme and tomatoes and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.

Add the chickpeas and stir well, then add the white wine and chicken stock and bring to the boil. Cover with the lid and bake in the oven for one hour, then remove and place the halibut on top of the chickpeas. Cover again and return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes, or until just opaque. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for five minutes before removing the lid.

Carefully lift out the fish and place in individual shallow bowls. Stir the parsley into the chickpeas, season with salt and pepper, and serve alongside the fish.

A January Menu for 6

Baba Ghanoush & Crackers
Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Christmas Salad
Red Wine Braised Duck Legs
Fennel, Celery Root and Potato Purée
Arugula Salad
Grand Marnier Soufflée with Crème Anglaise

With busy schedules it is difficult to find the time to entertain friends at home, but with this menu plan you can spread the work out over several days. Following each recipe here you will find suggestions for advance preparation and at the end I have added shopping lists. I hope you enjoy this winter menu and time to relax with your guests. Read more

Czechoslovakian Vánočka

This post is in honour of my Czech heritage, generations past, and my cousin Mary who has kept this bread-making tradition going over the years. She bakes several loaves of this bread and delivers one to my father, who looks forward to her visit and the enjoyment of this celebratory loaf, just before Christmas. Read more

Dark Chocolate, Pear and Pistachio Cake

Chocolate Pear Cake

With this cake, I followed my usual risky practice of making something for the first time and serving it to a group. I baked the cake the day before, added the ganache on the day it was served and carried it down the street to share with friends celebrating a birthday. I didn’t think to photograph it whole, but when it was unanimously judged to be blog-worthy, our host (thank you, David!) got out his iPhone to capture what remained: see the celebratory table and the candle holes left on the cake. Read more

Pumpkin Stuffed with Bread, Cheese, Garlic & Cream

Upon first reading of Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table, I knew that this stuffed pumpkin would find its way onto our Thanksgiving table this year. It may be too late for yours, but there is always Hallowe’en, American Thanksgiving, Christmas or anytime in the next few months while the squashes are fresh and beautiful. Read more

Plums, Memories and a Special Birthday

My father remembers that there would often be a plate of buchty waiting for him and his brother on the kitchen table when they came home from school in Prague. They would race in and grab one or two of the little buns which they considered to be the perfect snack: sweet dough wrapped around pitted and sugar-filled fruit. Read more

Who Kneads Pizza Dough?


I love bread and have kneaded it in various countries, in 45ºC kitchens, in electric, gas and wood ovens. While the kneading part (and the stoking the fire part) can be a satisfying and even a therapeutic exercise, it is more labour-intensive and time-consuming for many cooks these days. And we can buy such good bread here now that it hardly seems necessary to make it at home. Enter Jim Lahey, whose revolutionary no-knead bread dough has been written about in food columns for several years. And for good reason. Mixing the dough briefly, then a long slow rise, results in a crispy, chewy, flavourful loaf. Provided you plan ahead, the method is uncomplicated and you get the joy of smelling the intoxicating aroma of bread-baking at home and the kudos you receive for producing it! Read more

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