Browsing: Entrees

Seafood Paella


I had the good fortune to travel to the Spanish island of Majorca many, many years ago.  I still remember the people and the beaches.  The clearest memory was of the seafood.  We had been travelling through Europe that spring and had arrived back in England where we still had another week of vacation before we flew home.  The time was May and although it had been warm and pleasant in Greece and Italy, Britain was suffering through a late and miserable spring.  Instead of enduring the rain and gloomy skies, we decided to see if we could find an affordable warm spot to spent the dwindling days of our vacation.  We went back to the travel agency that had booked our original tour and trusted them to point us in the right direction.  Our spending money had dwindled as well and upon arrival, we decided that we would find a market and stock up on fruit, cheese and lunch fixings and only dine out once a day.  On our second day we longingly watched people stream into the dining room and inquired about lunch details.  Lo and behold, we were booked into an all-inclusive without even knowing it and were missing out on our three meals per day!  That lunchtime, we were served a cold whole lobster salad and from that moment on, the seafood meals came in a continuous stream.


Friends for 40 years

The same friend that I traveled with that spring. now lives in Toronto and she told me about a paella party that she and her husband had attended.  Supposedly a huge paella caldron was set up in the yard of their friends and they got to watch and participate in the preparation of this famous dish.  It has been years since I’ve enjoyed paella in Winnipeg but understand that both Hermano’s and Bonfire Bistro include it on their menus.

This past weekend, we dined at the home of good, good friends.  She is Italian and an amazing cook.  I know that we would have loved anything that they put in front of us.  To our delight, it was their favourite paella recipe.  She showed me the Anne Lindsay Heartsmart cookbook that her recipe came from but unfortunately it was not one that I had in my Anne Lindsay collection.  I have had the pleasure of meeting and being cooked for by Anne, a very long time ago (about the same time as this European adventure) and I remember the time (and the food) fondly.

I searched on line to try to find the recipe and could not come up with anything.  I found instead this one that looks to be pretty close.  It is from the Epicurious website and is credited to Claudia Roden-The Food of Spain.

Seafood Paella
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Spanish
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5 T olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste or finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • ½ t sugar
  • salt
  • 1 t sweet paprika
  • a good pinch saffron threads
  • 4 cleaned small squid, bodies sliced into ¼-inch-wide rings, tentacles left whole
  • 2 c medium-grain Spanish paella rice or risotto rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli
  • 3 c fish or chicken stock, plus more if needed
  • 1 c dry white wine
  • 12 jumbo shrimp in their shells
  • 16 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  1. Fry the onion in the oil in a 16-inch paella pan until soft, stirring often.
  2. Stir in the garlic, and before it begins to colour, add the tomatoes.
  3. Add the sugar, salt to taste, paprika and saffron, stir well, and cook until the tomatoes are reduced to a jammy sauce and the oil is sizzling.
  4. Add the squid and cook, stirring, for a minute or so.
  5. Add the rice and stir well until all the grains are coated.
  6. (You can prepare the dish to this point up to an hour in advance).
  7. Bring the stock and wine to a boil in a saucepan.
  8. Pour over the rice, bring to a boil, and add salt to taste (even if the broth tastes a bit salty, it will not be salty when it is absorbed by the rice).
  9. Stir well and spread the rice out evenly in the pan (do not stir again),
  10. Cook the rice over low heat for 18 to 20 minutes, moving the pan around and rotating it so that the rice cooks evenly.
  11. Lay the shrimp on top after 10 minutes and turn them when they have become pink on the first side.
  12. Add a little more hot stock toward the end if the rice seems too dry and you hear crackling frying noises before it is done.
  13. When the rice is done, turn off the heat and cover the pan with a large piece of foil.
  14. Steam the mussels with a finger of water in a pan with a tight-fitting lid. As soon as they are open, they are cooked.
  15. Throw away any that have not opened.
  16. Arrange the mussels on top of the paella.


Toni’s version did not include squid but did include Italian sausage, chicken and clams.

Kath’s quote: “Do not overcook this dish. Most seafoods…should be simply threatened with heat and then celebrated with joy.” –Jeff Smith


Love-that is all.


Middle Eastern Superfries


My husband and I just recently became empty-nesters. With this new season of our lives, I am taking a fresh look at our traditional family meals.  French Fries have long been a part of my repertoire but I have come up against resistance in adorning them with anything more than salt and ketchup.  Now that it is just the two of us, I have allowed myself to view julienned potatoes in a whole new light.  This recipe is a spin on a Middle Eastern dish which originally called for roasted sweet potatoes and fresh figs.


I love using staples already in my cupboard and freezer and this modifrycation invites the shoestring potatoes to cradle sweet slivers of figs, sautéed green onions, red peppers and creamy chevre.

Middle Eastern Superfries

650 grams of McCain Shoestring Superfies

1 T canola oil

10 green onions cut into 1 ½ inch pieces

½ red pepper cut into thin strips


10 dried figs cut into strips

5 oz chevre cheese

Sea salt

  1. Prepare McCain Shoestring Superfries according to package directions.
  2. While these are baking, prepare the topping.


  1. Heat canola oil in a medium saucepan over high heat and add green onions and red pepper slivers.
  2. Sauté for a couple of minutes until wilted.
  3. Spoon veggies over the fries which should now be out of the oven.
  4. Dot with the fig strips and then spoonfuls of the chevre.
  5. Sprinkle with freshly ground sea salt to your liking.

These make a great side dish if entertaining or a light dinner for my husband and I. Although the kids might have rejected the complex and robust flavours, this is precisely how we love to eat.


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Disclosure: This post was brought to you by McCain Foods Canada via Mode Media Canada Inc. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of McCain Foods Canada.

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Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart



The view from the 17th floor where we assemble each year.

Thanksgiving this year was especially poignant for me.  Perhaps it is the upcoming family wedding, perhaps the delight of having my Goddaughter home from Australia to celebrate with us, perhaps that my Mom persevered through another move to be with us, perhaps a sweet combination of all of these things.  Of particular significance though was the gratitude of being carried through some of the tougher moments that the year had brought us since the previous celebration of the harvest.  Surrounded by my family, my friends near and far, my church family and my neighbourhood, I realized anew how wonderful my life is and can be, even though it sometimes feels that I am crushed by its stresses.  As my friend Claudia (who is here right now) says: “There is always a hair in the food!”.



Our assembly this year was diverse with representatives not just from Australia but Japan (an international student living with a family member),



from the Wee One who is the youngest (and her adorable second cousin)



to our Mom and my bother-in-law’s Dad who is in his 90’s



with various generations of cousins in between.


When a family of over 40 gets together from all over the city, how does hot and tasty food make it to the table?  One of my sister-in-laws assigns the tasks and as we always say “Many hands make light work”-with different people assigned to prepare our standard favourites, designations to set up and take down and others to bring disposable plates and take out the garbage.


There is always turkey, ham AND meatballs, potatoes made with and without cream cheese and a couple of casseroles of green bean bake.


Over the years there have been many food “hits”, this year I may humbly put forward that my adaption of middle eastern sweet potatoes might have taken the most accolades.  The recipe is adapted from my new favourite cookbook:

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Figs
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Unfortunately fresh figs are out of season in October in central Canada so improvising was in order.
  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1½ T honey
  • 12 green onions, cut into ribbons
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 6 figs, cut into quarters
  • 5 oz. crumbed chevre (mine was rolled in berries)
  • ½ c pomegranate jewels
  • S&P
  1. Wash & cut potatoes into uniform wedges.
  2. Place them, skin side down on a heavy, greased baking sheet.
  3. Drizzle more oil and salt and pepper over all.
  4. Roast for approx. 25 minutes at 475 degrees until soft but not mushy.
  5. Place balsamic vinegar and honey together in a small sauce pan.
  6. Bring to a boil and then decrease heat and simmer 2 to 4 minutes.
  7. Sauté onions and pepper in oil for 4 to 5 minutes.
  8. Assemble potatoes on platter, top with all ingredients, leaving the pomegranate for last and then drizzle with balsamic reduction.
  9. Can be served hot or at room temperature.


The piece de resistance was Sister #3’s pumpkin pie.  Creamy and bursting with spices, she may make me a pumpkin pie lover after all these years.

Kath’s quote: “The king and high priest of all the festivals was the autumn Thanksgiving. When the apples were all gathered and the cider was all made, and the yellow pumpkins were rolled in from many a hill in billows of gold, and the corn was husked, and the labors of the season were done, and the warm, late days of Indian Summer came in, dreamy, and calm, and still, with just enough frost to crisp the ground of a morning, but with warm traces of benignant, sunny hours at noon, there came over the community a sort of genial repose of spirit – a sense of something accomplished.”-Harriet Beecher Stowe


Love-that is all.

Low(er) Fat Eggplant Parmesan


I often try to get a supper made sometime during the day on a Friday.  This way we can sit right down to the dinner table as soon as we arrive and unload the car at the beach house.  Today is coolish with a threat of rain and so I thought that a “stick to your bones” meal was in order.  As you my readers know-I love eggplant but not all the fat and calories that go into an authentic recipe.  If you look closely at the “meat” of the plant, it appears very spongy and it is that attribute that invites the veggie to soak up all the oil in this dish.  So, here’s my solution:


I get out my Mom’s mandolin and strum a melody.  Nope.  I get out my Mom’s mandolin and adjust the blade to the widest gap for the thickest cut.  Even at this thickness, the eggplant is thinner than I could ever slice it with a knife.  Then I dip the slices into a egg whisked with 1 T of water.  Next I press the slices into a combination of 1 part parmesan cheese to 2 parts bread crumbs.  With the parmesan right in the coating, it adds a pleasant saltiness without using salt and that nutty taste of parmesan without using a great quantity.  Even though I always have fresh parmesan in the fridge, I use a shaker variety for this recipe for best results.


Another note about cooking with eggplant: authentic Italian cooks will recommend that you salt the slices and then let them sit to purge their water and bitterness.  I don’t follow this step.  I like the plumpness of the slices and I think that slightly pungent taste is what makes the eggplant so unusual and delicious.


Next I cover a heavy baking sheet with foil (to speed up clean up) and liberally spray with a canola oil spray product.  I place the breaded slices upon the tray, spray again and then place them under the broil for a couple of minutes, watching constantly.  When golden brown, flip the slices over to the second side and spray again and then repeat the broiling procedure.


Once all the slices have been prepared in this manner, prepare a tomato sauce or use your favourite store-bought variety.  Here’s my favourite from scratch one:


From Scratch Rustic Tomato Sauce
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
I don't really think of this as a sauce, more of a pot purri of veggies.
  • 1 T canola oil
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 rib of celery, chopped
  • 1 unpeeled carrot, chopped
  • 1 small yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 small or ½ large red pepper, chopped
  • fresh parsley, basil or rosemary-whatever you have available
  • 1 19 oz. can tomatoes
  • pinch of sugar
  • s & p to taste
  1. Pour canola into sauté pan.
  2. Add all veggies and sauté until carrots begin to soften.
  3. Add herbs.
  4. Add tomatoes and break apart whole tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon.
  5. Simmer, until carrots have completely softened.
  6. Add a pinch of sugar and adjust the seasonings.


Place a ladle or two of sauce in the bottom of the pan that you might use to make lasagna.  Start to layer the eggplant slices over the bottom of the pan.  If you wish place a layer of thinly sliced mozzarella over each.  I adjust the mandolin onto the thinnest setting and use it again to slice the cheese.  Repeat layers until all slices are used.  Pour the rest of the sauce over all.  Bake at 375 degrees until cheese melts and the sauce bubbles.  Likely 30-40 minutes.  In one corner of the pan, you can eliminate the cheese slices for an even lower fat and calorie dish.  I am taking some Italian sausages to grill and will likely make a whole wheat spaghetti to accompany.  Voila tonight’s supper is done and it is hearty and nutritious.

Kath’s quote: “How can people say they don’t eat eggplant when God loves the color and the French love the name? I don’t understand.”-Jeff Smith


Love-that is all.


Vegetable Strudel



Even though I am not partial to sweets, I love anything baked with apples: apple pie, apple crisp, apple jacks (perhaps these are a Winnipeg thing), apple platz (definitely a Winnipeg thing) and apple strudel.  After years of being timid about working with phyllo pastry, I had to step up to the plate when a food styling gig that I was contracted for, demanded that I make my first fruit strudel.  What did I discover?  Working phyllo is a piece of cake.


I had some phyllo dough in the freezer and decided that a vegetable strudel would make not only a perfect dinner that evening but that left overs would be handy for lunch.  I love spanakopita (a Greek pastry filled with spinach and feta), so I worked up a recipe that would spring off of it.


Vegetable Strudel
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Mediteranean
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
Next time I was serve it with a light tomato sauce to moisten up a bit more.
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 big handful of mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 t canola oil
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t pepper
  • 1 T fresh rosemary, needles pulled from stem
  • 2 c cooked barley
  • 1 c feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 pkg. phyllo sheets
  • 3 T canola oil
  • ½ c breadcrumbs
  1. Roast all veggies in a preheated oven 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, turning once during roasting.
  2. Place veggies in a large bowl and add cooked barley and crumbled feta.
  3. Add salt & pepper, taste and adjust if necessary.
  4. Keep phyllo wrapped in the plastic while working with it or cover with a damp tea towel.
  5. Count out sheets and use half the number for half of the veggie mixture.
  6. Place a sheet of phyllo on a clean counter, brush with oil and sprinkle with bread crumbs.
  7. Repeat using half the total number of sheets.
  8. Place half the filling along the edge of the stack.
  9. Roll up lengthwise, transfer to a baking sheet that has been sprayed with canola oil.
  10. Repeat with second strudel.
  11. Slash top layers of phyllo on a diagonal in serving sized pieces and brush with any remaining oil.
  12. Bake in a preheated oven of 400 degrees for 45 minutes until well browned and crisp.


Kath’s quote: “You may feel that you have eaten too much…But this pastry is like feathers – it is like snow. It is in fact good for you, a digestive!”
-M.F.K. Fisher


Love-that is all.

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