Friday, May 31, 2013

Easy Cheese and Onion Quick Bread for Foodie Friday

I believe there are recipes and techniques every cook should have in their back pocket and knowing how to make savoury quick breads is one of those things.

Most of us are familiar with yeast free sweet breads like banana or zucchini loaf, but many don't realize that with a few simple ingredients, you can put together delicious savoury bread.

I'll set the scene... A pan of crispy  potatoes sits on the side board along with a succulent resting roasted leg of lamb. Crisp lettuce is dressed with fresh blue cheese, and the ripest tomatoes sit at the ready, waiting to be sliced.

Just as everyone settles in to enjoy a robust Barolo or a soft Chardonnay, the aroma of something wonderful wafts in from the kitchen.

Something savoury, and rich, and filled with melted cheese...

As your guests gather around the table, you present them with a loaf of the most perfect, soft, warm, bread - straight from the oven. And amidst the exclamations of pleasure and joy, no one has any idea how easy this little culinary triumph was to put together!

In honour of Foodie Friday, please enjoy my easy to follow step by step video, or visit the printable recipe here: Easy Cheese and Onion Quick Bread.

Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan.

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (for a decadent treat, use truffle salt)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 generous cup grated Gruyere cheese (can substitute any cheese of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, cut into small cubes 
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and generously butter a loaf pan. Do not use Pam or margarine. The butter is going to give this loaf a beautiful crust. 
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cayenne pepper together in a large bowl.
  3. Put the eggs in another bowl and whisk for about 1 minute, until foamy; whisk in the milk and olive oil.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and , using a  rubber spatula, gently mix until the dough comes together - just until the dough comes together.
  5. Stir in the cheese, grated and cubed, and the onions and spoon into the buttered pan, smoothing out the top with your spatula. 
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the bread is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and wait for about 3 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pan and turn the loaf over the rack; invert and cool right side up.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Master Chef Season 4 Episodes 3 and 4 Like a Lamb to the Slaughter, Sasha Gets Out FOXED!

This evening's two episodes of Master Chef set the scene for what can only be anticipated as an amazing season. And once again, Master Chef has managed to unearth an incredibly talented group of home cooks! In order to get there, though, they had to complete this round of auditions; starting with the first cook of the night - Howard - a former Assistant Machine Gunner with the US Army in Afghanistan.

Howard prepared a delicious looking Bourbon Peach Blackberry Cobbler with a crumble topping made with Graham crackers and Panko bread crumbs, and although Chef Ramsay disliked it because he felt the alcohol was too strong, Chefs Elliot and Bastianich both gave it the nod.

Joe enjoyed it so much that he walked out of the kitchen and presented Howard his apron in front of his jubilant family and the person Howard says most inspired him in the kitchen - his  lovely grandmother.

Once again proving my theory that Joe is, indeed, The Tin Man.

Underneath that steely blue stare beats a heart of gold - or at the very least, wrought iron - and its fun to see him champion contestants he thinks are worth the effort. A word of caution, though, don't let him down if he's gone to the mats for you.

More on that later.

Meanwhile, and in keeping with my Wizard of Oz obsession theme, I'm dubbing the next cook to come out (Jonny) as this season's Scarecrow.


Because this carpenter by trade and last home chef to audition, served the judges a creation he called Lobster Cracker Jacks consisting of fresh lobster, popcorn, coconut, nuts, and caramel.

I know.

The fact he survived that and then went on to prepare chocolate mashed potatoes (and got away with it) should tell us all this scarecrow has far more in his head than straw.

Like Lambs to the Slaughter

Speaking of straw, when the chefs were given their aprons and season 4 was officially kicked off, it was done in a glorious spectacle featuring the releasing of lambs. People, this ain't no Next Food Network Star! On Master Chef cooks are expected to get up close and personal with the food they prepare and, throwing all vestiges of compliance to health codes dignity to the winds, the home cooks were stampeded by hundreds of bleating lambs.

Graham Elliott explained that, not only is lamb currently the most popular meat in the world, it's gaining popularity for its unique flavour in North America - as such, the home cooks were given an incredible array of cuts to choose from along with complete access to the Master Chef pantry.

Contestants were told by Ramsay, or, the man I will call The Wizard: "Shine and you'll move on. Make a mistake and you'll be like a lamb to the slaughter - you have just 60 minutes to cook us the best lamb dish of your entire life."

The Cooks are Divided

When the first cook off was over, the remaining chefs were divided into three groups. One group already impressed the judges enough to move straight into the Master Chef Kitchen. A second group was sent home, and a third group had to compete for spots.

Which brings me back to the hay, and the home cook I am dubbing as "Dorothy" this season: Beth who cooked a Lavender Hay Roasted Loin of lamb with sweetbreads that not only knocked my socks of with technique and originality, the dish looked beautiful.

Pretty much, if Somewhere Over the Rainbow was going to be performed this episode, it would have fit in nicely with the emerald green and cheerful artistry of Beth's plate. 

Not to be outdone, however, Luca, who cooked a Lamb Loin Roulade filled with sweetbreads gave the viewing audience our first dramatic Master Chef moment of the season. It was beauty vs personality as both lamb/sweetbread dishes went head to head and as the smart girl who never got picked to dance, I admit I was rooting for Luca.

 But after much dramatic pausing, crashing music, and an insufferably long commercial break, viewers across North America celebrated from our collective couches as beauty and brains (or in this case, sweet breads) prevailed. Beth was given the first nod, and Luca, a stay of execution, becoming the last cook standing as we headed into the next episode...

 The Mystery Box Challenge!

The games began with the first mystery box challenge of the season! The cooks were charged with having to prepare one stunning dish using the contents found in their mystery boxes - which today contained bacon, one tomato, a handful of chocolate, and a russet potato tasking the cooks to create with the basics.

The top three dishes came from boxing coach Bimie for his beautifully poached egg over hash, along with arch rivals Natasha and Krissie who were none too pleased to be in the same category together. Natasha, who lets us know every chance she gets how pretty she is, and all of the ways her beauty isn't going to interfere with the competition,  put together an incredible lemon pie tart that Joe said could be served at the best patisseries in France or three star restaurants in new York.

On the other hand, Krissie made a frittata that Joe said was as good as his mother's - which is saying a lot considering his mother is Lydia Bastianich! On that note, Gordon said to Krissie: "You're the one to watch."

Beauty, in this case, prevailed over brains though, and Natasha won - giving her a huge advantage going into the next round. She was invited into the Master Chef pantry and given control of the first elimination test. Tasked with choosing between three ingredients for the competing cooks: langoustine, first cut veal chops or, stilton blue cheese, Natasha chose langoustine - a shell fish popular in Europe that could be most simply described as a cross between a lobster and a prawn - as the ingredient du jour in the hopes of tripping Krissie up and sending her home.

But Krissie was having none of it. Our tough talking Italian mom, went straight to work creating a langoustine mac and cheese, that although ex army gunner Howard thought would be the losing dish, anyone who's been paying attention knows of Gordon Ramsay's love with Lobster Mac and Cheese, making this a very smart dish indeed!

Howard's End?

On the other hand, though, we'll cut Howard a little slack as it doesn't sound like he's had a lot of time on his hands over the past few years. A memo that our Tin Man, Joe, obviously didn't get. Remember when I said "Don't let Bastianich down if he's gone to the mats for you," - well, Howard unfortunately did just that and the reaming out he got for his dish had him almost in tears and had me thinking Howard would be going home tonight.

But in a SHOCKING twist ending Sasha Fabulous Fox and her Langoustine Cheese Grits was sent home! This is disappointing to me on three levels. First, I really enjoyed watching Sasha and would have loved to see what else she can do in the kitchen. Second, her dish seemed like a delicious twist on shrimp and grits, and third, she was the only chef on the show close to my age range - it's not fair that the majority of people cast are so young.

But that's Hollywood for you!

When Sasha was asked who she thinks will win Master Chef, she said Krissie - but I have to tell you, I have my eye on Dorothy Beth.

And now, what would I cook? I actually just cooked some beautiful Herb Marinated Pan Seared Lamb Chops. Would you like to learn how to make them? 

Missed last week's recap? get caught up here: "You're a bit of a freak for the Beaver!"

Until next week, happy cooking everyone! Be sure to subscribe to my blog for all the latest scoop, Cocktails and Gossip is coming up over the weekend, my popular web saga Cherry Hill on Sundays, and, of course, all of the recipes and how to videos from my web show CHARMED with the Kitchen Witch!

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Three Killer Potato Salad Recipes for Weekday Wednesday

It's Weekday Wednesday once again! The day I feature quick and easy weekday recipes that are big on flavour and full of fresh, beautiful ingredients - and what better as we approach the languid days of summer, picnics, and barbecue parties than incredible recipes for potato salad?

In preparation for this, I issued a challenge two weeks ago on my Kitchen Witch Facebook Page calling for all of my favourite cooks and foodies to enter their best recipes for potato salad in my first contest of the summer.

The response, like the recipes, was incredible and in the end I decided on three finalists:

Loaded Baked Potato Salad from the blog Running with the Devil(ed) Eggs

Blue Cheese Potato Salad  from the blog Food Thoughts of a Chef Wannabe

And Potato Salad with Red Peppers from the blog Hun What's for Dinner?

To pick a winner, I prepared all three recipes and did a live taste test on camera. I also employed three other off camera taste testers: my dad, mom, and husband and after much debate because it was very, very close, we picked a winner.

So tune in to see who won and make sure you subscribe to my Youtube channel while you're there! I put up four new videos every week to coincide with this blog but I also put up other fun slice of life videos, bloopers, and all kinds of silly stuff - including my "famous" video featuring me eating a raw oyster for the first time!

As well, be sure to join me on Facebook -  I LOVE all my subscribers and would welcome the chance to get to know you all a little better in this way!

Here's the video!

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Chicken, Bacon, and Strawberry Salad

Happy Monday everyone! How's every little thing going in your neck of the woods? Things are great here, a little busy, but the end of a hectic training season is coming to an end so there is light at the end of my tunnel.

That and I finally got my garden planted!

This summer I've devoted one raised bed to mixed greens, another to a variety of spinach, chard, and kale, and the third to cucumbers because I plan to pickle my heart out in August.

We'll also do tomatoes, and pots of herbs just because.

In the spirit of that, I've come up with a wonderfully fresh salad to kick off the growing season that will be incredible to make throughout the summer.

Tender boneless, skinless chicken breasts are marinated in a strawberry vinaigrette, and the grilled or roasted meat is placed onto a bed of greens, strawberries, toasted almonds, crispy bacon, and blue cheese. Toss it up with more vinaigrette and you've got a fresh and satisfying warm weather dinner salad that is, truly, Just. That. Fabulous!

It's all about making magic in the kitchen and making your own vinaigrette this Tips and Techniques Monday is easier than you think!

Visit the printable recipe here: Chicken, Bacon, and Strawberry Salad

Enjoy my easy to follow step by step video.

Strawberry Vinaigrette Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced sweet strawberries
  • 2 Tbsp chopped shallots
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp each kosher salt and black pepper
Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Put in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one day.

Salad Ingredients
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 cups mixed salad greens or baby spinach
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup crispy crumbled cooked bacon
  • 1 heaping tbsp crumbled blue cheese
  • All of the vinaigrette above
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place the chicken breasts into a ziplock freezer bag and pour 1/4 of the vinaigrette over all. Mix all over, massage the marinade into the chicken, refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Grill or oven bake the chicken. I like to oven roast it in parchment paper - this method tends to steam all that fresh strawberry flavour into the chicken.
  3. Let the chicken rest 10 minutes and slice lengthwise.
  4. Mix the salad greens with the strawberries, almonds, bacon, and blue cheese. Add all but 2 tbsp of the vinaigrette and toss well. 
  5. Divide salad equally onto to separate plates and place one sliced chicken breast onto the top of each salad. 
  6. Drizzle each chicken breast with the reserved strawberry vinaigrette.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cherry Hill, Episode 17 "The Secret Room"

Welcome, dear readers, to episode 17 of our ongoing web drama, Cherry Hill!!

 In episode 16: Zanzibar, heroine Amanda Fitzpatrick made her way to Jack Wilson's house to get to the bottom of a mysterious message left on her party line...

Read on as we resume our series...


Amanda looked at Jack in shock. His face had gone the colour of ash and a silence grew between them as loud as a  drum beat.

"Jack, you're frightening me! What on earth is wrong? Do you know something about this Zanzibar?"

Without replying, Jack got up and shut the curtains. He walked past the children intently listening to a radio show in the living room, locked the front door, checked the windows, and then made his way back to the kitchen where he locked the back door.

Before sitting down, he reached into the ice box and pulled out an Old Vienna beer.

Taking a long pull on the icy cold drink, he looked across the table at the beautiful young woman he had vowed to protect and his heart filled with sadness. This was a moment he had hoped would never come. The Watchers had worked tirelessly to craft a life for Amanda that would be free from danger.

But with one word; Zanzibar, Jack knew all that had come to an end. THEY knew who she was, and as Amanda's assigned Watcher, it was Jack's job to let her know the truth about herself.

Amanda didn't know what to think, but as she observed Jack stalking around the house like a panther protecting his den, she began to feel more and more alarmed. Regretting she had said anything at all, she began to gather her handbag; determined to look up Zanzibar in her late husband Paul's Oxford Canadian Atlas when she returned home.

In a dimly lit corner of her memory, Amanda recalled reading about Zanzibar after Paul had dog eared its page. When she asked him what his interest in this far away place somewhere off the east coast of Africa was all about, he had brushed her off; but she remembered being intrigued by thoughts of  warm nights and sweet spices.

Was there a connection between the atlas, Paul, and Zanzibar, she wondered,  and what on earth was causing Jack to behave so strangely?

With all these questions swirling in her mind, ever so calmly, she rose from her seat, smoothed out the cheerful polka dot dress she was wearing, and picked up her handbag making the motions to leave.

Just then Jack turned to face her and with an intensity she could not ignore, held out his arm motioning her back to the table, "Amanda, please sit down. We need to talk."

"Jack, what is it?" queried Amanda, her eyes as big as saucers, "You're frightening me to the bone and my mind is swimming with questions about Zanzibar. Did you know Paul dog eared it in his Atlas without ever explaining why?

To her surprise, Jack reached across the table and never taking his eyes from hers, grabbed Amanda's hands. "Forget about Paul for the moment Amanda; have you told anyone else about the phone call?" he asked quietly, "The children? Your parents? Anyone?"

"No. No one knows about this but you. The phone call came in just before dinner and the voice on the other end told me quite clearly that the only one I can trust is you. Thinking it was all some kind of bizarre hoax I wasn't even going say anything, but something inside niggled at me and that's how I ended up here. Jack, what on earth is this all about?"

Jack looked at Amanda with a tenderness that caused her heart to make two small skips. "Do you trust me?" he asked, still holding her hands, and in that moment she knew, somewhere within the depths of her being, that she trusted him. Without reservation.


"Then before I can explain any further, I have to take you and the children somewhere safe. Gather them up Amanda, and we'll tell them we're going on a secret adventure."

Amanda walked into the front room and with a sense of new found knowing that this was the right thing to do, gathered the children. When the three returned to the kitchen, Jack opened the door to a broom closet and pushed a button inside. Before their eyes, a door in the floor began to slowly open, revealing a ladder that would take them to a dimly lit room beneath the house.

Amanda went first with Bobby and Sally right behind her. When they had all climbed down and were safely at the bottom, Jack took one last look at his kitchen, shut the broom closet door, and followed them to the secret room. Pressing another button, the door in the floor closed, and he looked at the three with a sense of pride. A lesser woman might not have followed him. But Jack knew better than anyone who Amanda really was and,  armed with this knowledge, also knew the danger she was in.

Painting a smile on his face for the children Jack turned around and clapped his hands.

"Who's interested in an adventure even better than Superman?"

"We are!!!" chimed the children, as Amanda held them close, one under each arm.

"Okay, then," said Jack, "The first thing we need to do is pack some supplies. Follow me."

Jack pressed another button on the far right wall of the secret room and another door opened to a store house filled with warm clothing, hiking shoes, and camping supplies.

On another shelf were rows of potted meats and cheeses, tinned goods, biscuits, sweets, dried fruits, and several canteens.

"We'll need enough food for the four of us to make a two day journey on foot," Jack whispered to Amanda, "Can you pack this rucksack and fill the canteens? There's a water pump over by the far shelves. I'll pack another with survival gear. And when we get to our destination, I'll explain everything."

Amanda's head was swimming. Hidden doors? Secret rooms? A two day journey on foot?

Seeing the fear and uncertainty in Amanda's eyes, Jack's heart flooded with an unexpected feeling of tenderness. In that moment he re-affirmed the promise as her Watcher that he would keep Amanda safe at any cost, and gently touching her arm he brought his rugged face close to hers and whispered, "It's going to be okay, kid. I promise."


Will Jack and Amanda escape safely with the children? And what of Paul? Was he somehow involved with Zanzibar himself?

Stay tuned next week for the next installment of Cherry Hill and if you're enjoying the story, be sure to pass it on and share it with others!

Next week's installment: The Legend of the Lakes

Thanks a million everyone!

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Paula Deen's Marriage in Crisis? Cocktails and Gossip featuring The Strawberry Shortcake Cocktail

I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day when a headline from a tabloid paper caught my eye:

 "Paula Deen Breakup Crisis" was splashed over a two page spread in the National Enquirer, and since the people ahead of me seemed to be shopping for the next apocalypse, I had time to read the entire article.

According to distant relatives willing to sell their souls for money trusted sources, Paula Deen's recent weight loss has tongues wagging all over Savannah. Apparently the one time Queen of Full Fat Mayonnaise and bacon is not only lightening things up in the kitchen; she's been fixing to trim the fat in her relationship to husband Michael Groover.

This isn't the first time divorce rumors have swirled around Paula and Michael. In 2010 there were reports of trouble between Deen and Michael's daughter.

But I take it all with a grain of salt.

We're talking about the National Enquirer after all.

So, true or false, if Paula Deen's new found lease on life is precipitating changes that contribute to her own sense of well being and happiness then who are we to judge?

Paula Deen has done extraordinary things with her life. As a survivor of debilitating anxiety and depression, she managed to raise 2 sons, start a business from nothing, and grow a career that has become so big and impressive that the rest of us find her interesting enough to gossip about!

That in itself speaks volumes and is why I chose this week's AMAZING cocktail just for Paula!

The Strawberry Shortcake.

Make this and find out why it's one of the best cocktails I've ever had in my life!

If you want to see me making it in person, please enjoy today's easy to follow video.

Visit the printable recipe here: Strawberry Shortcake Cocktail


  • 1/3 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1 oz. amaretto
  • 1 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 1/2 oz. vanilla vodka 
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream 
  • 1 dash vanilla extract
  1. Combine strawberries, amaretto, Bailey’s, vodka, ice cream, ice, and vanilla extract in a blender. Blend until frothy. Enjoy.
If you enjoy reading food related fiction, check out my hilarious new web series "Starring Samantha."

Samantha Wentworth's catering business goes belly up along with her marriage to cut throat divorce attorney Alan Wentworth. To recoup her losses she applies to be on a reality TV show, falls in love with the married producer, just about kills the pompous chef host, and gets herself into all kinds of other interesting predicaments. 

Stay tuned Saturdays for this brand new serial on The Kitchen Witch! I'll be basing the characters off of well known food world celebs to keep you guessing! Each installment will come with a signature cocktail, recipes, and a fun question and answer to include you in the plot twists - so be sure to bookmark The Kitchen Witch and come along for a fun, food related, romantic romp through the world of reality TV!

Click here to read Episode 1: Samantha Drowns her Sorrows in a Vodka Gimlet 



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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Friday, May 24, 2013

Garden Fresh Eggplant Caponata

Happy Foodie Friday everyone! The day I present recipes and ideas for "upscale eating" or entertaining at home and today we're going to visit Sicily for a classic rustic dish!

Eggplant Caponata is filled with delicious ingredients like olives, raisins, pine nuts, toasted almonds, summer vegetables, and, of course, egg plant! Serve it as a side dish, with pasta, or as I like to do; as a topping for meat or fish,

Caponata takes a lightly seasoned white fish like halibut, sole, or snapper to whole new places and can make for a quick, easy, and impressive weekend dinner or lunch because it can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Visit the printable recipe here:

Watch my easy to follow step by step video to learn how to dice and chop the vegetables and assemble this beautiful dish!

Eggplant Caponata Ingredients
Recipe Credit: Earth to Table Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm by: Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann

  • 2 large diced eggplants 
  • 2 tbsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil NOT extra virign
  • 6 stalks diced celery
  • 1/2 bulb diced fennel
  • 1 medium diced zucchini
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 medium onion cut into chunks
  • 3 medium diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup drained, coarsely chopped green olives
  • 1/2 cup drained capers
  • 1/2 cup sultana raisins
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste (start at 1/4 tsp, taste, readjust, add more 1/4 tsp at a time until you get the flavour you like)
  • 3/4 cup whole raw almonds lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh basil
  1. In a colander over a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 2 tbsp salt. Let drain for 1 hour. Rinse well and pat dry with paper towels. 
  2. In a large deep pot, heat 1 cup of the olive oil over medium until hot but not smoking. Add celery and fennel and saute 1 minute. Add zucchini and saute for 3 minutes. Add the eggplant and saute until the vegetables are golden brown and tender, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a plate lined with paper towels; set aside. 
  3. Add the remaining oil to the pot and saute garlic and onion over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, olives, capers, raisins, pine nuts, vinegar, and sugar and cook for 10 minutes. Add reserved vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  4. Transfer to a wide, shallow dish and let cool for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.Can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  5. About an hour before serving, remove from the fridge and bring to room temperature. Serve sprinkled with almonds and fresh basil.


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

Thursday, May 23, 2013

You're a Bit of a Freak for Beaver: Master Chef Season 4 Episodes 1 and 2:

It's been a long wait but finally, everyone's favorite cooking competition, Master Chef, is back on TV and my early prediction is that Season 4 is going to be delicious!

And how could it not be?

With a cast of judges like Chef Graham Elliot, restauranteur Joe Bastianich, and Chef/Food World superstar Gordon Ramsay, we're enlightened at home not just by food reviews but by the way they're delivered.

 Where Gordon Ramsay has oft been edited depicted to be a shrill, cruel, drill sergeant in the Hell's Kitchen and Restaurant Nightmares version of his persona, in Master Chef, we, the loyal home audience are treated to a kinder, gentler version of our tousle haired culinary golden boy

And thank goodness for that because I nearly had an aneurism during last week's debacle on Restaurant Nightmares and wanted none of the drama this evening as I settled in to watch home cooks from across America compete for a coveted white apron that would signify they would go on to the next round.

There were many interesting and talented home cooks to stand out from the pack of 100 finalists in episodes 1 and 2, but I would be remiss if I didn't begin by highlighting Bryan from Texas who specializes in cooking road kill.

After the judges had tasted a round of bear, ostrich, and macaroni and cheese made with breast milk that made Gordon Ramsay projectile spit into a bucket, they were presented with "Stripped and Shaven Beaver" from Bryan.

While I always assumed beaver might taste a bit like chicken, Graham Elliott was quite steadfast in his opinion that it tasted like beef.

Joe, who had never eaten beaver prior to this, was unable to give much of an opinion, but when Chef Ramsay asked him if he was turned on by the beaver, Bastianich gave it a thumbs down.

Despite all this, Ramsay and Elliott who apparently both like to eat beaver, prevailed and Bryan was given an apron to carry on with the show.

Moving on...

 Delivery driver Jordan who lost his mother to brain cancer, made a much more serious impression on the judges with his Ancho Chile Tostada and Cilantro Mint Aioli. When asked what he thought about the competition he said:

"I don't screw around There's some competition out there  but food wise I don't see a lot of technique. I'm going to bring you technique."

All three judges agreed and Joe Bastianich, who I am dubbing "The Tin Man" because beneath his tough exterior is a guy who gets frequently and lovably misty, issued the first fighting words of the season: "That dish was one of the best opening dishes we've ever tasted; you are the one to watch."

Other highlights of the evening included a marriage proposal, a fish fileting challenge, a single mom named Chrissie who I fear I might fall in love with as I did Christine Corley of Master Chef past, and Sasha Fox who I am already in love with.

And how could I not be?

With lines like "put a little Sasha in your mouth baby" this fabulous, gospel singing, culinary Divah presented a riff on fried chicken and waffles that to me, was nothing short of genius: Southern Fried Cornish Game Hen with Crepes and a Maple Bourbon Sauce.

Thankfully, all three judges said "Amen," and we can look forward to more Sasha Fabulousity in Master Chef episodes to come.

Ditto for former NFL player Eddie, a contestant from last year, Luca, and many other amazing home cooks.

I honestly can't wait to see what this season is going to hold and hope you'll subscribe to The Kitchen Witch to come along with me for the ride!

Now let me dream big... if I were to serve an initial dish to the judges it would be...

Crispy Thin Crust Spinach Pine Nut and Feta Pizza!

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Slow Cooker Asian Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Hey everyone and welcome to Weekday Wednesday!

The day I share quick, easy, and delicious recipes for busy weekdays that utilize real ingredients that most cooks have on hand; and today I'm excited to bring you my original recipe for Asian Pulled Pork Sandwiches!

Tender marinated pork tenderloin is cooked in the crock pot and served on soft buns with a to die for Asian slaw!

The result is juicy dinner sandwich the whole family is going to love!

Visit the printable recipe here: Asian Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Please enjoy my easy to follow step by step video: 

Marinade Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup tomato ketchup
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce (I use honey hoisin)
  • 1 tsp Siracha  Asian chili sauce ( for a spicier version add two)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 1 pound to 1 1/4 pound pork tenderloins
  1. Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a large Ziplock freezer bag. Add the two small pork tenderloins to the bag and mix well. If the tenderloins have not been previously frozen you could do this as a make ahead and freeze. Simply thaw on the counter the night before you plan to make the dish.
  2. Put the tenderloins and all of the marinade (squeeze the bag well) into a crockpot that has been treated with a little vegetable or olive oil spray. Cook on the low setting for 6 hours. 
  3. After six hours, shred with a fork and mix the shredded pork with the sauce in the crockpot. Turn off the crockpot, cover, and let the meat incorporate with the sauce while you make the Asian Slaw and steam the buns. 
Asian Slaw Ingredients
  • 3 cups shredded Chinese cabbage
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced radish
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  1. Toss the cabbage and radish together
  2. Mix the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake well. 
  3. Dress the salad a little at a time - you want it covered but not soggy. Save any additional dressing for later. 
To make the Asian Pulled Pork Buns
  1. Steam 6 large Sweet Asian Rolls or any other large soft chewy buns.
  2. Split the rolls in half and place a generous serving of the pulled pork onto the bottom half of each bun.
  3. Place a handful of the Asian Slaw onto each, cap with the bun top 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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