Mushroom Grilled Cheese

“Sandwiches are wonderful.  You don’t need a spoon or a plate!” – Paul Lynde

Want to make your ordinary grilled cheese a little more interesting?  Adding sautéed mushrooms hinted with rosemary gives this vegetarian option a meaty kick.  We like to serve it with a mellow tomato soup – from scratch.

Serves 4

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup parmigiana reggio cheese, grated
2 sprigs rosemary
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
8 slices bread
Kosher salt and pepper

Gently combine cheeses and set aside in a bowl.  Warm butter and oil in a skillet and add the rosemary over medium heat.  Stir for a minute or so, until you can smell the rosemary.  Add the mushrooms and stir, cooking until they are golden brown.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Keep the skillet on medium heat.  Butter one side of each bread slice.  Place the buttered side down on the hot skillet (fit as many as you can in your skillet depending on the size, in a single layer).  Use enough cheese to cover the surface of each slice of bread (feel free to add more or less depending on how cheesy you like your sandwiches).  Put a few spoonfuls of the sautéed mushrooms on top and cover with a bit more cheese.   Cover with the remaining 4 slices (now buttered side up).  Work in batches to grill them on the skillet.  Grill until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden brown, about 2-4 minutes on each side.

Savoury Fried Brown Rice

“Rice is great if you’re really hungry and want to eat two thousand of something.” – Mitch Hedberg

Fried rice is a great staple dish to know how to make.  We use leftover brown rice to beef up the nutrition in this recipe – we find it gives a nice nutty flavour and holds its texture well.  If you don’t have leftover rice, make a fresh batch and spread it in a single layer on a tray and pop it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.  Cold rice and a hot buttery pan are the key to making the perfect crispy bite. 

Serves 3-4

2 cups brown rice, cooked and cold
one medium onion diced
2 carrots, peeled diced and par boiled
1 cup green peas
6 green onions, sliced thinly
2 eggs
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp butter
1 tsp oyster sauce
salt and pepper

Heat 1 tsp butter in a hot wok.  Add the eggs and quickly scramble, breaking it up into little bits. Once it is cooked remove it from the wok.  Add the remaining butter and stir in the onions, carrots, peas and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Add the rice and let it get crispy.  You will hear it sear.  Let it cook for 1 minute.  Add the cooked egg back into the wok, along with the green onions and soya sauce.  Add the oyster sauce.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and additional soya sauce if you like.



Lemony Garlic Aioli

“I could talk food all day.  I love good food.” – Tom Brady

Bring some flair to your next batch of homemade fries with this basic aioli sauce. We like to toss the garlic in the oven at the same time as the fries, as it emerges with a sweet mild flavour and a beautiful pate-like consistency.

Serves 3-4

1 head of garlic, top sliced off
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup full fat yoghurt
2 tbsp mayonnaise
½ lemon, squeezed
kosher salt and pepper

Heat oven to 425 F.  Place the garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil.  Sprinkle with salt and olive oil.  Wrap the foil around the garlic to make a bundle.  Place in the middle rack of the oven for approximately 45 minutes.

Remove the garlic bundle and use tongs to spread the foil.  The garlic should appear brown and will be very soft.  Using the tip of a knife or small tongs, gently lift each garlic clove out of its peel and place in a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Using a fork, mash the garlic.  Set the bowl aside to allow the garlic to cool completely.

Once cooled, add the remaining ingredients.  Season to taste.

Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing

“It’s never been an issue for me – I don’t want to go on a diet, I don’t want to eat a Caesar salad with no dressing, why would I do that? I ain’t got time for this, just be happy and don’t be stupid. If I’ve got a boyfriend and he loves my body then I’m not worried.” – Adele

Making your own Caesar salad dressing is really special.  Particularly on a busy weeknight when you are serving chicken strips over salad/wraps and you want to create at least ONE from scratch component in your meal. Kick aside your boxed kit and mix up this dressing in a matter of minutes.  Be proud of yourself – dinner will be fabulous tonight!

Adapted slightly from Canadian Living

Makes enough dressing for one head of romaine lettuce

1/4 cup (50 mL) extra virgin olive oil 
2 tbsp (25 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
2 tsp (10 mL) Dijon mustard
2 tsp (10 mL) anchovy paste 
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper
1/2 tsp (2 mL) Worcestershire_sauce
3 tbsp (50 mL) light mayonnaise

In bowl, whisk together oil, cheese, lemon juice, mustard, anchovy paste, garlic, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk in mayonnaise until smooth. (Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.)

Tear one head of romaine lettuce into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the dressing, croutons and parmesan cheese then toss to combine.

Golden Cheddar Dill Biscuits

“With enough butter, anything is good.” – Julia Child

There is nothing more satisfying than a warm, buttery and flaky biscuit – except of course if it’s home made! We use some cheddar cheese for beautiful golden specks and half and half cream to cut some of the calories (sorry Ina!). The key to making a flaky biscuit is ensuring your butter is cold and oven is hot. We recommend doing a quick flash freeze to give you the perfect texture. These biscuits would pair great with your Super Bowl Sunday Chilli!

Adapted from Ina Garten

Makes 20 biscuits

4 cups plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
1 ½ cups cold butter, grated
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup half and half cream, cold
1 ½ cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
1 egg beaten plus 1 tbsp milk (for egg wash)

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add grated butter and stir with a large wooden spoon. In a small bowl, combine 4 eggs and cream. Add to the flour and butter mixture and stir until just combined. Toss the cheeses, dill and 1 tbsp of flour together and add to the dough. Slightly mix and dump onto a floured surface. Using your hands, quickly combine until cheddar cheese and dill are well distributed (no more than one minute). Roll dough into a ¾-inch thick square. Using a large knife, cut into squares (or any shape you like). Place on a floured tray and freeze for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Remove biscuits from the freezer and place on a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Brush with eggwash. Bake for 20 minutes, until the outside is crusty and the inside is fully baked.

Tyler’s Fab Foccacia

“A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.” -Thomas Keller

This fresh and delightful homemade focaccia is sprinkled with juicy kalamata olives and dressed with rosemary.  Caramelizing the onions is an added step but it really takes this bread to a whole new level.  Serve it as an appetizer for a party and your guests will talk of nothing else!

Taken from Tyler Florence’s Fabulous Focaccia

Makes 1 loaf

2 teaspoons rapid-rising dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Cornmeal, for dusting

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 Kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 tablespoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, proof the yeast by combining it with the warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve. Let stand 3 minutes until form appears. Turn mixer on low and slowly add the flour to the bowl. Dissolve salt in 2 tablespoons of water and add to the mixture. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and fold over itself a few times. Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl. Turn to coat the entire ball with oil so it don’t form a skin. Cover with plastic rap or damp towel and let rise over a gas pilot light on the stovetop or other warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Coat a sheet pan with a little olive oil and corn meal. Once the dough is doubled and domed, turn it out onto the counter. Roll and stretch the dough out to an oblong shape about 1/2 -inch thick. Lay the flattened dough on the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, coat a small saute pan with olive oil, add the onion, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes until the onions caramelize. Preheat oven to 400°F. Uncover the dough and dimple with your fingertips. Brush the surface with more olive oil and then add caramelized onions, garlic, olives, cheese, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Bake on the bottom rack for 15 to 20 minutes.

Skillet Breakfast Hash with Peppers

“Every single diet I ever fell off of was because of potatoes and gravy of some sort.” – Dolly Parton

This breakfast hash is great to serve to a crowd – just in time for your upcoming New Years Day Brunch! The color from the bell pepper is lovely and the potatoes develop a nice flavor from browning in the skillet.  To keep things easy, serve up the potatoes right from the skillet.

Makes 6-8 servings as a side dish

5-6 potatoes, chopped
1 red bell pepper sliced thin
1 small onion sliced thin
1 garlic clove minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced thin
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste

Blanch potatoes in salted water for about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Melt butter in cast iron skillet over medium high heat and add onion. Saute for 3 minutes and then add peppers, garlic and potatoes. Stir and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until potatoes are cooked through and browned. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.