Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hell's Kitchen Episode Three Recap - The Garlic Bread Debacle

Let me start by saying, everytime I watch Hell's Kitchen I'm intrigued by the food Chef Ramsay has our teams prepare as they battle.

In fact, so enamoured was I by last night's pasta dishes for the fire fighters, I decided to google Ramsay pasta recipes because I'd like to try cooking some of his food.

The recipe that caught my eye - big surprise, seafood lover that I am - was for Spaghetti with Prawns in a Creamy Tomato Sauce.

Can you say yumm?

As the season continues, I plan to try a few Ramsay recipes - and as soon as the heat wave we're under dissipates, I'll be cooking the above. Hopefully this weekend!


Episode three began with an elimination where manic marine Joseph pretty much lost his mind, shouting "I'm not your bitch," when Ramsay asked him to point out the two chefs he felt needed to go home this week and why.

An all out bru ha ha ensued with security people rushing to Ramsay's aid reminiscent of old episodes of Jerry Springer.

Flanked on either side by his Sumo Security guards, Ramsay wasn't backing down and Joseph had to find out the hard way, that in Hell's Kitchen, you've got to give the devil his due.

Which could only mean one thing:

Buh Bye Joseph.

And buh bye Tony

Who, despite doing well with his signature dish and the shrimp challenge in the first episodes could not redeem himself after a poor dinner service.

In tonight's episode, the remaining chefs were awakened in the middle of the night and told that Hell's Kitchen was on fire.

You just knew it was going to be a challenge, and it was.

The two teams had to get their game on and cook garlic bread, chicken alfredo, and spaghetti for a large group of hungry firefighters.

People to see Lovely, who gets on my last nerve

And Andy

Flopping around the kitchen in a hot sweat trying to make garlic bread was enough to make me lose my mind.

Garlic bread.

Somehow, though, they managed to get it together and the women squeaked by with a victory, sending them on a day at the spa, while the guys were left behind to clean the kitchen and wash fire trucks.

A precarious endeavour apparently because two of the blue team were injured.

Kevin twisted both his ankles

And Dave injured his wrist.

Medics were called, both managed to get through dinner service, though, both still appear to be a quite a bit of pain and discomfort. Dave was shown in previews for next week trying to decide whether or not he will be able to continue.

Meanwhile, dinner service was as you'd expect at this stage in the game with some chefs doing well...

Ariel really stepped it up tonight.

And others...

People, watching Tennille trying to cook scallops in ten inches of olive oil after she was told repeatedly she was using too much, and then setting the stove top on fire was almost too painful to watch.


The result: She and Lovely were put up for elimination.

However, thanks to the Manic Marine, it was their lucky day because there was no elimination.

I'm glad.

Scallops notwithstanding, I like Tennille and would like to see her come back strong.

Time will tell...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Grilled Peppercorn Burgers

Hello everyone,

I hope life's treating you well!

This is going to be a quickie because I've got big plans to go jump in the lake and stay nice and cool despite the heat wave going on around these parts. But I wanted to share a unique recipe for grilled burgers - grilled peppercorn burgers, to be exact, that the Poolboy - who is a big lover of pepper - says is his favourite.

For the patties, your seasoning is very simple.


1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt

With about a pound of lean ground beef.

Form your ground beef into patties and then roll in a mixture of crushed mixed peppercorns.

Throw them on a barbecue or indoor grill and cook to your desired doneness.

Top with the good stuff, and enjoy!

Fun in the sun, time spent on the water, and delicious peppercorn burgers!

Everyday magic is all around...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Salsa Cruda with Basil Oil

I haven't been in the kitchen much this week.

Those of you who read my other blog know I lost a good friend on Sunday and as a result, I haven't done much cooking.

However, I decided this morning that mulling around in my pyjamas and eating WAY too much ice cream ( I can't tell you the amount of sweets and carbs I put back since I heard the news) the best thing I could possibly do was get myself out of the house and rejoin the land of the living.

So that's what I did.

The Poolboy and I took a drive up island and had a late lunch of crab in a zesty lime and butter sauce, a cool, crisp chardonnay, and conversation at a table over looking the ocean.

For me, it was just right.

When we got home, some friends popped by and the next thing you know we were blending up daquiris and inviting them to a dinner of Salsa Cruda - one of the easiest and most flavourful summer meals you can imagine.

The best thing is, the recipe makes a lot.

And since we're supposed to be seeing a heat wave here in the next few days, I'm glad I made extra because I don't want to be cooking!

I only ever make salsa cruda in the summer because that's when tomatoes are ripe and in season and there is a vast array of varietals to choose from.

The tomatoes in my garden are still green, but the farmer's market up the road had a great selection.

Salsa Cruda with Basil Oil is a simple and healthy way to taste the best summer has to offer.

For printable recipe click HERE

In large bowl mix together:

8 cups coarsley chopped tomatoes
1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste (be generous enough with the salt to really bring out the flavour of the tomatoes)
1 tsp dried chilies (optional - I love the heat that the chilies add)

For the basil oil:

Mix together in a blender..

1 clove finely chopped garlic
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
pinch of salt

Add the basil oil to the tomatoes, taste for seasoning, and then let the whole thing sit and get good at room temperature (about an hour or two)

When ready to eat mix together with pasta cooked to al dente and serve with lots of fresh shaved parmesan (do not skimp or cheap out on powdered blech - there is absolutely no substitute for the real thing), fresh basil, fresh parsely and toasted pine nuts.

I served it over angel hair pasta with big loaves of crusty to bread to sop up the juices to rave reviews.

And it wasn't just the daquiris talking!

I hope you'll try this easy and flavourful summertime dish because it really is







Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hell's Kitchen Season 6 Premiere - The Maniac Marine Gets Ready To Rumble!!

It's the start of another season of Hell's Kitchen starring the ever intimidating Chef Gordon Ramsay, in the kitchen yet again to take no prisoners.

Tonight's episode began with a segment I really enjoyed.

It featured the new cast viewing clips from previous contestants lamenting the mistakes they made, while the newbies acted cocky and over confident.

All I could think was "Poor Bastards" and immediately saw the writing on the wall when our first chef to go, diner owner Louie, served Chef Ramsay gummy looking biscuits and gravy as his signature dish.

And then acted put out that Ramsay didn't enjoy the dish.

Or Suzanne, who had the colossal stupity to serve risotto

Do people not WATCH the show??

Unless you're a four star chef or grew up in Umbria, to even consider serving Gordon Ramsay risotto and think you're going to get away with it in episode one is just plain CRAZY!

But she did it.

And true to Hell's Kitchen precedent, Chef Ramsay spit the whole thing out.

That was nothing, though, compared to my favourite signature dish, Tequila French Toast a la Amanda.

Complete with shots of tequila, that she had the NERVE to drink as Chef Ramsay waved her soggy looking and highly un-appetizing french toast around.

People, she smiled and laughed as though she were a contestant on Who Wants to Be A Millionare.

Not surprisingly, she was up to leave in the first round.

Instead however, Melinda, creator of the worst lobster dish I have ever seen was first to go.

With Joseph, a former marine already lined up to rumble with Ramsay "I'm not your bitch!", a fish cook who surprised me by serving foie gras with minted caramel as his signature dish, a couple of apparent CAWDS (crazy ass women in disguise), and a fan favourite from last season, Robert back to redeem himself after a health crisis, Season Six is already shaping up to be a hilarious gastronomic ride.

Most exciting though, is the grand prize of head chef position at the fabulous Araxi Restaurant in my home province of Whistler, B.C. where most food can be sourced within one hundred miles.

Under the supervision of executive chef James Walt, the winner will have the chance to cook, and enjoy all of the culinary opportunities British Columbia has to offer prior to the 2010 winter olympics.

Stay tuned for next week.... previews show paramedics.

Will Joseph and Ramsay rumble? Or will Ramsay recognize something in Joseph and try to tame him?

In any case, I think we're all in for a fun ride!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chicken and Raspberry Salad

I was going to play "Recipe Roulette" today and try that recipe for squash, but it was just too hot.

After going for a hike and a swim, I stopped by the farmer's market in search of inspiration and was faced with the most beautiful display of ripe juicy raspberries.

Hmmm, I thought, those would be interesting in a salad.

Maybe with some marinated chicken and the rest of the hazelnut vinaigrette from the other day.

So I picked them up along with a gorgeous peach pie.


I hiked today.

When I got home home I cut two boneless skinless chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and marinated them in:

1/4 cup raspberry jam
1 tbsp raspberry balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsps hazelnut oil (you could easily subsititue extra virgin olive oil)
1 clove minced garlic

After a few hours in the marinade, I cooked the chicken all up in the pan, cooled it, and then tossed it together with the vinaigrette, greens, celery, green onions, raspberries (use only the sweetest ones, or sprinkle them in advance with a bit of sugar if they're too tart), toasted almonds, a little feta, and topped the whole thing with proscuito ham I fried until cripsy.

The finished product was delicious!

This is one of the many things I love about summer - an abundance of fresh foods means anything goes when it comes to creating kitchen magic of your own.

I hope you'll consider being creative and having some fun with salad this summer.

If you do, be sure to share your ideas with us!


Be sure to stop by A Fabulously Good Life today for a revealing blog about Reincarnation

And for any The Bachelorette fans out there, my recap of The Bachelorette Men Tell All is now up.

Until next time darlings...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cooking with Giada Recipe Roulette Style - Pork Chops with Onion Marmellata

I have to admit, I've been inspired to do this whole "Cooking with Giada" thing after seeing the previews for "Julie and Julia" - I read the book years ago as well as followed the blogs and always thought cooking through a cookbook was a great idea.

To see the trailer just click HERE.

Doesn't the movie look fabulous? I adore Meryl Streep and to see her transform into Julia Child is an absolute treat. Haven't seen the movie yet but I suspect it will be a favourite.

So armed with that as inspiration, and desperately sick of everything in my usual cooking repertoire, I thought I'd go out on a limb and try recipes I normally wouldn't.

And what better way to do so than to play what I like to call "Cookbook Russian Roulette" - where you randomnly open your cookbook and commit to trying whatever recipe you happen to be on.

Thankfully, there are no recipes for tripe in Giada's cookbooks.

The other day I held the book in front of me, closed my eyes, and whispered to the great gods of cooking, "Lead me to the perfect recipe for today."

And they did.

Pork Chops smothered in this wonderfully fresh tasting, orange flavoured, chutney like topping that is also absolutely delicious the next night on chicken.

For the recipe, click HERE

More and more I've come to appreciate the beauty of using fresh, local ingredients. The Giada recipes are wonderful because they've given me new insights into flavouring and how to use herbs and kitchen magic I traditionally would not have thought of.


So how about you, wanna play some Recipe Roulette tonight?

I'm game if you are!

Knowing my love of the South and all things southern, The Poolboy bought me a cookbook called "Beyond Grits and Gravy" The South's All Time Favourite Recipes."

I've had the book for almost a year and haven't tried a thing so....

Picking it up, prayer to the great gods of cooking and then...

Skillet Squash! Oh my - it looks good.

I'm committed to cooking up a pan of skillet squash for Monday's dinner and then blog about it.

How about you? Any Recipe Rouletter's out there?

It might just bubble into a charming meal...


If you're still looking for something to read, don't forget to stop by my other blog A Fabulously Good Life for today's post: They're Like Over ripe cherries with a hint of limburger cheese

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mave's Summer Greens with Hazelnut Oil Vinaigrette

I took prawns out for dinner tonight with the intention of making a fabulous lemon prawn risotto, but with the heat of the day steadily climbing, I knew I was going to have to re-think tonight's dinner.

Armed with google, a garden filled with fresh ingredients, and a brand new container of hazelnut oil (our tiny general store and farmer's market rock big time - I picked up the hazelnut oil on a routine trip for shallots last week) and decided that salad would be the thing.

So the first thing I did was google hazelnut vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette because besides full fat three cheese ranch salad dressing by Kraft, I HATE processed salad dressings.

So I'm always on the lookout for recipes I can make myself.

And people, tonight I scored!

I found a wonderful recipe.

Hazelnut Vinaigrette

1 clove garlic
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons hazelnut oil
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Mince garlic; add salt and Dijon mustard; whirl drizzling in raspberry vinegar, honey, hazelnut oil, and olive oil. Store, covered, in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.

Note: By gradually whisking or blending the oil into the vinegar, you create an emulsion (a mixture of two liquids that usually don't combine smoothly.)

Using that as my base, I built the most delicious salad using:

  • Two cups prawns (1/2 cup per salad) that were sauteed in butter, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and minced garlic. (After sauteeing I refrigerated them to cool.)
  • Baby beet greens
  • Spinach
  • Baby arugula
  • Two stalks diced celery
  • Two diced green onions
  • One whole avacado, diced
  • One can mandarin oranges (without juice)
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese.
To assemble:

Toss all the ingredients up with about 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette (use more or less depending on preference)

And then enjoy!

Mave's Summer Greens with Hazelnut Oil Vinaigrette, Kitchen Magic at it's best!




Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cooking with Giada - Chicken Piccata

Hey all, and welcome to another installment of Cooking with Giada. My plan: to cook my way through the recipes of one of my favourite Food Network chefs, Giada De Laurentiis.

This recipe for Chicken Piccata comes from Everyday Italian and is truly so fabulous I could probably eat it everyday!

Crunchy, tender chicken drizzled with a lemony butter sauce and served over angel hair pasta...

For original recipe click HERE


* 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
* Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
* All-purpose flour, for dredging
* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 cup chicken stock
* 1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
* 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped


Okay, the first thing you want to do is butterfly your chicken - which is a nice way of saying you'll be spreading it out flat (butterfly like) and then pounding the heck out of it with a rolling pin until it's nice and skinny.

Next, season the chicken with salt and pepper and then dredge the chicken in flour and shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes.

When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.

Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

**Optional** I changed the recipe a little by adding another 1/2 cup chicken stock to the sauce and after whisking, I saved some sauce to drizzle on the chicken and tossed al dente angel hair pasta into the rest with about 1/4 cup grated parmesan.

I plated the dish by placing the chicken on top of the pasta with a side of fresh peas. The remaining sauce was drizzled over everything.

In all honesty this one, like all the others I've tried so far gets four out of four stars!

Chicken Piccata - everyday magic that will make your life that much tastier.




This recipe is linked to: Brenda's Canadian Kitchen: Cookbok Sundays

Cookbook Sundays Badge

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pan Seared Balsamic Scallops and Spinach

I've been in heaven these last few days while on holidays.

Realizing how amazing life would be if I didn't have to work full time.

Not to say I don't like or appreciate my job - I do - it means a lot to know the difference we make in the lives of others. But holiday time gives me a chance to be selfish and to wonder what it would be like to live life just for me and my family.

To sink all the creative energy I put into my career and the people we help into my garden, my home, my cooking, the people I love...

And my writing.


But I'm a believer that life flows as it's supposed to and that sometimes the gifts we're given get used in ways we don't always expect.

All this deep thought on a blog about grilled scallops.

I know.

It's just that this is where my head's been at the last couple of days. Understanding that I'm pretty much at the halfway point in my life and wondering what the next half will be about.

Realizing I don't want to waste any time.

Believing there might still be time to make other dreams come true.

And so it goes.

Today the PB and I went shopping for groceries and I found myself fixated on filling the cart with all things Mediterranean.

More and more I've adopted the mediterranean style of eating, enjoying fish, seafood, tomatoes, greens, garlic, olive oil, and of course, red wine, while I try to stay away from processed foods, refined sugars and carbs.

Some weeks it's a slippery slope - like our last foray at the grocery store when the PB and I went on empty stomachs and filled our carts like we were on our way to a ten week beer bash.

But today we both made great choices and they culminated in trying a lovely new recipe this evening from Better Homes and Gardens

Pan Seared Balsamic Scallops and Spinach.


For printable recipe click HERE

* 1 lb sea scallops, fresh or frozen
* 2 tablespoons flour
* 1-2 teaspoon cajun seasoning
* 1 tablespoon oil

* 1 (10 ounce) package prewashed spinach
* 1 tablespoon water
* 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* 1/4 cup cooked bacon, pieces

Rinse scallops and pat dry with paper towel.

In a large ziploc bag mix the flour and cajun seasoning.

Add scallops, toss, coating well.

In a large skillet over medium heat warm the oil.

Add the scallops and cook for approximately 6 minutes until browned and the scallops are opaque.

Remove scallops from skillet, keep warm.

Add spinach to skillet and sprinkle with water.

Cover and cook over medium high heat until spinach is wilted; about 2 minutes.

Drizzle spinach with vinegar and toss well to coat.

Add scallops and heat throughly.

Sprinkle with bacon pieces.


This recipe had all the right elements for me.

The sweetness of the balsamic vinegar perfectly complimented the crispiness of the seared scallops and the freshness of spinach pulled right from the garden.

We had the most lovely evening.

Starting things off with my new favourite martini The Frisky Mary

From my friend Divah on a Diet at Beach Eats.

People, if you enjoy a bloody Mary or Caesar then this is your drink - only amped up by about a thousand percent.

The freshness of the tomatoes, the perfect blend of vegetables, seasoning, and vodka...

Don't listen to me, just go on over and try the recipe for yourself. But make sure when you do that you have a martini shaker that's roomy enough to properly muddle everything. Otherwise I might recommend muddling in a seperate container and then dumping it all in.

Anyboo, in the spirit of my deep seated belief that a magical life is available to everyone, I wish you all the most wonderful and creative of weeks.





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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cooking with Giada - Rib Eye Steak with Black Olive Vinaigrette

My husband bought me the cookbook Giada's Kitchen for Christmas and I've enjoyed the recipes I've tried so far.

However, like the many dozens of other cookbooks sitting on my shelves, I haven't actually made a point of trying the recipes.

I mean to, I tell myself I will - heck, I even bookmark pages - but then I go onto something else and forget all about that wonderful Moroccan salad, or risotto I was going to try.

Well, no more.

When my husband gave me the book my intention was to cook my way through it trying a new recipe every week.

At first I was on it, making such lovely items as:

Linguini with Shrimp and Lemon Oil

Chocolate Panna Cotta with Amaretto Whip Cream

But then I kind of fell by the wayside.

However, now that I'm on holidays I have the time to indulge in my culinary passions and have decided to continue cooking and blogging my way through Giada's cookbook.

Tonight I made a recipe for Rib Eye Steak with Black Olive Vinaigrette and, honestly, I can't say enough about it because it was truly




The highest honour a recipe can get around these parts.

I served it with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and garden fresh peas and carrots to give it my signature retro kick.

I have to tell you, Giada deserves major kudos for this one. It's easy, original, and incredibly tasty!

Rib Eye Steak with Black Olive Vinaigrette

Printable Recipe HERE

* 1 2-inch rib-eye steak, boneless
* 1 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Black Olive Vinaigrette:

* 1/2 cup black olives, pitted
* 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
* 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
* 1 garlic clove
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


For the Rib-eye: Preheat your grill pan on medium high heat. Coat the beef with olive oil and sprinkle with the Herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes a side until the meat is medium-rare, remove from heat, and allow to rest.

For the Black Olive Vinaigrette: Combine the olives, red wine vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until mixed. In a small pitcher combine the olive oil and vegetable oil. Drizzle the oil into the blender with the machine running. Transfer the vinaigrette to a serving dish. Stir in the parsley and serve with the rib-eye.


This one's everyday magic taken to a whole new level! I will be serving this at dinner parties for years to come.



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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Surf and Turf Burger

My husband loves a good burger and his favourite dishes (when not having burgers) always involve some kind of seafood. So why not combine the two? I did just that and came up with what is now his favourite burger! Give this one a try - it's really good!

Surf and Turf Burger

For printable recipe click HERE

  • 4 green onions, chopped medium fine
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped very fine
  • 2 tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 cup cooked shrimp
  • 1/4 cup seafood sauce
  • juice of fresh lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
  • Mayonnaise
  1. Shape meat into patties and place patties in a single layer on a small cookie sheet or serving tray.
  2. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile stir one cup cooked shrimp with 1/4 cup seafood cocktail sauce, the basil, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  4. Grill the burgers app 5 minutes per side.
  5. Spread mayonnaise on both sides of a hamburger bun then layer lettuce, the burger, and top with the shrimp in sauce.
Finally, eat and enjoy!


Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

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