Sunday, September 16, 2007

Gelato...a great way to end the summer

Inspired by a recent tasting of Cherry Gelato at Moozoo, a local gelataria in the Old Port in Montreal, we couldn't wait to come home and try our hands at making Gelato. Not having made it before I wasn't really sure what to expect but this recipe was easy to make and oh so mouth watering...

Chocolate Gelato

Serves 4


1 ¾ cups skim milk (375 ml)
¼ cup whipping cream (35% MF)
150 grams of caster (superfine) sugar*
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp instant coffee granules
100 grams of grated Lindt dark chocolate (85% cocoa)


Put the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the milk is just about to boil. (Steam will begin to rise from the saucepan). Remove from the heat and stir in the coffee and chocolate. Continue to stir until the chocolate has melted. The mixture will become smooth, have a consistent colour but will be slightly runny. Cool slightly at room temperature and then refrigerate overnight.

Transfer to an ice cream machine for approximately 20 minutes and freeze for at least 5 hours. Soften in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.

*I didn’t have superfine sugar so I placed 150g of granulated sugar into my food processor and ground the sugar for 15 seconds to create the superfine sugar.

Helena Tip I tend to keep the small 125 ml plastic containers that the baby food comes in and find them especially handy especially for treats like this gelato. Before freezing, I place the gelato into the individual containers. Once I'm ready to enjoy my dessert, I remove one container to soften. This ensures that I limit myself to one serving and I'm not so tempted to finish the entire bucket :)


Pasta and Vodka...yum!!!

Desperate to cook something without having to go to the grocery store to pick up anything, I had all of the ingredients at home to make the following dish...

Fettucine alla Vodka

Serves 4


2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon hot pimento paste
200 grams frozen cooked shrimp
2 cups of diced tomatoes (with ¼ cup of liquid)
Garlic salt
1/3 cup vodka
1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
340 grams whole wheat fettucine (1 package)
Salt to season
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
Grated Parmesan cheese


Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are light golden around edges, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and pepper flakes; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add shrimp (or ½ cup of diced sausage)
Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Remove pan from heat and add vodka. Return pan to medium-high heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Stir in cream and cook until hot, approximately 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and fettucine. Cook for 9 minutes (al dente), then drain pasta (reserve ¼ cup of pasta water). Add sauce to pasta and toss over medium heat until pasta absorbs some of sauce, 1 to 2 minutes, adding reserved cooking water if sauce is too thick.

Divide among pasta bowls. Sprinkle with basil and parmesan cheese.

Serve with a Caesar salad and garlic bread.


This was a really good recipe. Next time I’d like to try this recipe with 1 cup of diced chouriço instead of the shrimp…hmmm... now I'm looking forward to another chilly weekend :)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Comfort Food on a chilly Saturday

The chill is settling in the air ever so slightly and as a result, today I'm all about the comfort food. I'll start with a Portuguese Caldo Verde - a potato and vegetable puree. Very traditional and you've probably tasted it as the first course at a typical Portuguese wedding.

Caldo Verde (Creamy Portuguese Potato & Greens Soup)

Makes 6-8 servings


2 tsp olive oil
2 large onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
250 grams spicy chouriço (or spanish sausage)
4 medium potatoes, peeled and halved (750 grams)
8 cups chicken stock
1 tsp of salt
2 cups of finely shredded collard greens
4 cups water


In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add all the ingredients except the water and collard greens. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 45-50 minutes.

In a separate pot, combine water, 1 tsp of salt and collard greens. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Drain greens and place in a pot.

When the potato mixture is cool enough to handle, remove chouriço, slice it thinly and set aside. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and purée. Return to the pot. Add the greens and combine well. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with crusty bread.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A New Twist on a Hawaiian Pizza

I just recently had a baby and I don’t think anyone told me how difficult it would be to lose all of the baby weight. It’s been 8 months. I guess I had this fantasy that it would just melt away… boy was I wrong…

So hubby and I decided to change our ways and lead a more healthy lifestyle. If not for ourselves but for our child, who will look to us as she grows. As I was sitting at our local bookstore looking for some inspiration, I came across Jorge Cruise’s 3-hour diet cookbook. The recipes all looked so easy to make… An added bonus when you have a little one at your side. Bought the book, came home and tried his recipes… Wow is all I can say … This is the first time I’ve found a cookbook with balanced meals that closely mirrors the Canada Food Guide and that taste Great!!

Here’s my take on the Pineapple Ricotta Pizza recipe from Jorge’s book (page 122).

Helena’s Hawaiian Pizza


2 Greek-style thin pitas
¾ cup skim-milk ricotta cheese
3 pineapple rings (drained if canned)
2 slices of prosciutto (Italian cured ham)
1 roasted pepper
½ cup of shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 cups of mixed salad greens
2 tbsp fat-free raspberry salad dressing


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Place the pitas on the baking sheet and top with the ricotta, pineapple, prosciutto, roasted pepper and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle the top with some Italian seasoning.

Bake until the cheese melts and the pitas are crisp. (approximately 15 minutes)

Meanwhile, toss the salad greens with the dressing in a large bowl and divide among the two plates.

Serve each person one pizza and one salad.


Monday, September 3, 2007

A Filipino Classic

Every so often, I like to treat hubby to a traditional filipino meal (just like he would have at home). This is my version of Caldereta, a rich beef stew. I like to serve it over some hot steamed rice and a side of corn, although you could add potatoes to it (for the last 20 minutes of cooking) and omit the rice and corn altogether for a heartier meal. It's also a great meal for those cold autumn evenings that will soon arrive.

Caldereta (Filipino Beef Stew)


¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
1 chopped onion
2 lbs beef sirloin, cubed
3 cups of beef stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp cornstarch (dissolved in water)
1 ½ cup baby carrots
2 cups chopped mushrooms


Heat oil in a saucepan then sauté onions over medium heat. Add garlic and tomato paste. Then add cubed beef until beef browns. (Approximately 5 minutes). Add beef stock and allow all the ingredients to simmer for about an hour. *

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then add baby carrots, chopped mushrooms and dissolved cornstarch in water. Bring to a boil, then allow to simmer for 20 minutes (or until carrots are tender). Serve with hot steamed rice.

*For a make ahead dish, you could stop the cooking process here, allow the stew to cool and put in the fridge. Once ready to serve, place in a saucepan and continue with the rest of the recipe.


A Short Road Trip...

Yesterday, Hubby and I went for a short road trip to visit the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in New York. It was absolutely breathtaking...

But no road trip is complete without taking along some sandwiches and salads to munch on. So I decided to make some ham & swiss cheese sandwiches (made with a french stick) and 2 side salads: coleslaw and chickpea salad. Sorry no pictures today but here's the recipe:

Prosciutto and Chickpea Salad


1 can chickpeas
4 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto (or Portuguese salami)
1 medium red onion, cut in half and sliced
½ red pepper, sliced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tbsp Red wine vinegar
Romaine lettuce

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Cut prosciutto into thin strips. Combine ham, red onion, red pepper, and the chickpeas and mix.

Whisk together mustard, olive oil and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss the vinaigrette with the chickpea mixture and serve on a bed of romaine lettuce, washed and cut in thin strips.

Makes 4 servings.


Saturday, September 1, 2007

What's in our freezer?

Hubby and I are trying to use up all the food we currently have in the freezer so I found a beef roast and decided to cook it up for last night’s meal. I found this recipe on and what a great one it was. I served it alongside sautéed spinach and steamed baby carrots.

Beef Tenderloin with Peppercorn Sauce


2 lb. beef tenderloin roast (900 g)
1 tsp dry oregano leaves, crushed (5 ml)
1 tsp coarse salt (5 ml)
1 tsp black pepper, crushed (5 ml)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp dry thyme, crushed (5 ml)
1 tsp paprika (5 ml)

Peppercorn Sauce
1 1/2 cup marsala wine (375 ml)
1 cup chicken broth (250 ml)
1 clove garlic, crushed
10 x peppercorns, multicolored, crushed
1 1/2 cup whipping cream (375 ml)
1/2 tsp dijon mustard (5 ml)
Coarse salt and pepper, to taste


Beef Tenderloin
1. Heat oven to 425 F.
2. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Press combined ingredients evenly onto the surface of the beef tenderloin. Place beef on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.
3. Place a meat thermometer in the centre of the beef. Do not cover beef or place water at the bottom. Allow roast to cook for 35 to 40 minutes for medium rare.
4. When meat thermometer reads 135 F, remove roast from the oven, cover it with aluminum foil and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. The temperature will rise to 145 F degrees allowing meat to reach a medium rare state. Transfer roast to a carving board and allow it to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting. Cut into ½ inch thick slices.
5. Arrange desired number of slices of beef on a plate. Spoon peppercorn sauce over slices of roast beef.

Peppercorn Sauce
1. Add wine, broth, peppercorns and garlic to the tenderloin roasting pan and cook for 20 minutes or until the liquids are reduced to half. Add cream and mustard and, stirring frequently, cook for 20 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half again. Season to taste and allow to cook for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and spoon sauce over tenderloin.
2. Garnish with a sprig of oregano if desired.