Lobster Mac & Cheese

Its Sunday afternoon and we’ve decided to whip up Lobster Mac & Cheese….why not?!?!?! We spent the afternoon at Evergreen Brick Works walking the trails and working up a big appetite.  We had jars of lobster back at the ranch, which were brought straight from the east coast of New Found Land.  The combination of penne pasta, succulent lobster from the east coast, an array of cheeses and some hot chilli flakes put this dish over the top! Bake it, serve with a fresh Kale Salad and voila, comfort food for the soul. Substitution Tip: If you do not have lobster replace with any other seafood fave! (scallops, shrimp, crab etc.)

Creamy Lobster Mac & Cheese


Cooking Instructions:

In a medium sauce pan make béchamel sauce.

1. Heat butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add flour and stir until smooth.

5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy colour, about 6 to 7 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat the milk (4 cups) in a separate pan until just about to boil.

4. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture of flour and butter (1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth).

5. Bring to a boil.

6. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat and add in desired cheeses. We grated four different cheese, some mild some strong. About 2 cups of grated cheese would be ideal. Stir until the cheese melts.

7. Season with salt and nutmeg (2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg).

8. Add lobster meat (or alternate choice of seafood) to the béchamel sauce and continue to stir.


Pasta: (pre heat oven to 375 degrees)

1. Boil a large pot of water with salt

2. Add penne pasta or macaroni style pasta to the boiling water (do not turn the water down after adding)

3. Drain when cooked to preference

4. Place pasta back into the pot – add half of the béchamel sauce and stir until all pasta is coated generously.pre bake

5. Transfer the pasta to a clear baking dish

6. Top with the remaining béchamel sauce and sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese

7. Place in the oven uncovered for 35 minutes or until bubbling

8. After removing from the oven let stand for 10 minutes before serving

9. Add chill flakes if desired!









Congratulations Rich & Anne! Let’s Eat! An Asian inspired meal to celebrate…

This past Friday night, I hosted a little dinner party for 2 friends of mine who recently got engaged.  I thought this was the perfect occasion to open a couple impressive Napa Cabs so I started planning a menu.  I had a prime rib in the freezer I wanted to cook but I’ve had prime rib with this particular group of friends the past few times we’ve cooked a meal so I needed to change it up!  The bride to be doesn’t eat red meat, so I needed to think of an alternative main course as well.  I decided on seared tuna and figured I’d serve this with an Asian inspired sauce and therefore I thought I’d frame my entire meal with the Asian theme in mind.  I decided to marinate the prime rib (found a rib eye steak recipe which I used for the prime rib), chose to cook quinoa as my starch, and then I prepared two salads (cucumber/mango and a cabbage slaw) and a hot vegetable side dish – broccoli.  Every thing turned out very well but the show stoppers were 2 dishes – the seared tuna and the roasted broccoli.  I know what I do well and I know what I doesn’t turn out so well.  When I say the tuna and broccoli were phenomenal – this is no exaggeration!  And as luck would have it, they were probably the two simplest dishes I prepared that night.  I’m already planning on cooking these dishes again when I’m back in Florida with my family in a couple weeks.

I did a lot of prep the night before the dinner party and even the morning of, before going to work.  When I was toasting the sesame oil for the quinoa on Friday morning, a fire started in the sauce pan and grew in size in seconds. I panicked, put the sauce pan in the oven to try to contain it and called 911 (my intention was to ask them how to safely attempt putting the fire out).  By the time the fire dispatcher came on the phone, the fire burned itself out but she sent firemen to my condo regardless.  3 HOT (of course) firemen can knocking on my door , came in to have a look in the kitchen to make sure all was under control and then asked me curiously what was on the menu for my dinner, so I gave them a peak in my fridge to see all the preparations I had made so far.  They were very impressed!  Ha!  Quite an eventful morning all before 8am!

Five-Spice Quinoa with Toasted Almonds

Five-spice powder is a seasoning that usually includes star anise, cinnamon, licorice root, fennel, and black or Sichuan pepper. It plays well against the slight nuttiness of quinoa, a grain that is rich in protein. Toasting the quinoa in a little oil adds a pleasing nuance of flavor. Serves 4 to 6

For the sauce:
4 cups vegetable broth
1-1/2 Tbs. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a bowl.
2 cups quinoa
1-1/2 Tbs. olive or canola oil
3 Tbs. minced scallions
1-1/2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. five-spice powder
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan with a lid over medium-high heat until very hot, about 20 seconds. Add
the scallions, ginger, and five-spice powder and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the quinoa and
Five-Spice Quinoa with Toasted Almonds – stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. The quinoa should be tender to the bite. Remove from the heat, uncover, and fluff with a fork.
If the almonds aren’t toasted, cook them in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until golden
brown. Let the quinoa cool slightly and then stir in the toasted almonds. Taste for seasoning, adding salt or
soy sauce if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature as a staple dish instead of rice or couscous.

Asian Marinated Prime Rib

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 6 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 4 rib eye steaks
  • In a small bowl, combine first seven ingredients; mix well to blend.
  • Place prime rib in a bag (I used a clean plastic grocery bag) and pour marinade over the roast.
  • Seal and place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.  Turn roast every 8 hrs or so so each side sits in marinade for hours.
  • Cook roast for 15 minutes at 450 degrees and then reduce to 325 degrees and cook until roast reaches an internal temperature of 120 degrees (my 6lb roast cooked 1.5 hours at 325 degrees – on top of the 15 minute sear)

ASIAN ROASTED BROCCOLI (this recipe is SO easy and out of this world amazing)!

2 heads on broccoli, cut into florets (or at least 4 cups of florets) – you could probably substitute broccoli with asparagus, brussel sprouts or rapini


3-4 tbs chili-garlic paste (i didn’t know what this is so I used Srirach Hot Chili Sauce)

1 tbs brown sugar

2 tbs soy sauce

3 tbs veggie oil

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp fresh garlic

Mix marinade together in large bowl. Add in broccoli to coat. Spread on a pan and roast at 425 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until edges are golden.  I doubled the marinade recipe because my heads of broccoli were very large.

Snappy Cucumber Mango Salad

Serves 4

For the most refreshing salad, place your mangoes and cucumber in the refrigerator for a few hours before making the salad so that they’re nice and cold. The fresh ginger adds some zing to the salad, but if you’d prefer it to be a bit more mild just leave it out. (Find a tutorial on how to peel and store fresh ginger here.)

2 ripe mangoes, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced

1 English cucumber, peeled or partially peeled (see note below), halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced

1/4 cup (packed) fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger, optional

1 tablespoon honey or coconut nectar

pinch of sea salt

In a large bowl, toss together all of the ingredients to combine. That’s it!

Serve immediately.

Pan Seared Tuna with Avocado, Soy, Ginger and Lime
Ingredients2 big handfuls fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno, sliced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, grated
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Pinch sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 (6-ounce) block sushi-quality tuna
1 ripe avocado, halved, peeled, pitted, and slicedDirectionsIn a mixing bowl, combine the cilantro, jalapeno, ginger, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir the ingredients together until well incorporated.

Place a skillet over medium-high heat and coat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the tuna generously with salt and pepper. Lay the tuna in the hot oil and sear for 1 minute on each side to form a slight crust. Pour 1/2 of the cilantro mixture into the pan to coat the fish. Serve the seared tuna with the sliced avocado and the remaining cilantro sauce drizzled over the whole plate.

Asian Coleslaw

2 tbsp. sesame seeds
4 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. sugar
2 cups (about 1/2 head) shredded red cabbage
2 cups (about 1/2 head) shredded green cabbage
2 cups (about 4 carrots) shredded carrots
kosher salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste


Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds and toast, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer seeds to a small bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, vegetable oil, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine shredded cabbages and carrots. Toss to combine. Add vinegar mixture and toss to coat. Season with kosher salt and ground pepper, to taste.

To serve, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Family Day Weekend – Wasaga Style

On the Family Day weekend in February 2013 (same weekend as US President weekend), some friends and I headed to my buddy Richard’s cottage for what turned out to be a winter wonderland, freeeeeeeeeeeeeeezing weekend!!!  Instead of skiing – we stayed indoors and ate to keep warm!  lol

The first night, Richard’s brother Dave made one of the best prime rib I’ve had (Mom still comes in 1st – sorry Dave 😉 ) but this beef was outstanding!  Live in Toronto?  Try going to Totera Fine Foods.  Dave was also able to buy (flash frozen) porcini mushrooms to make risotto as a side dish to the beef!  Even when the mushrooms were frozen they were overwhelming with fragrance!  Simply amazing!  You can pick these up in the freezer section (in ziploc bags).  http://www.yelp.com/biz/totera-fine-foods-vaughan

Love making a group dinner like this, someone helped with the gravy, we all kept an eye on the beef cooking, then the yorkshire pudding (favorite recipe is here http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/yorkshirepuddings_86010 ).  Some good red wine was decanted…

Yorkshire puddings
100g/3½oz plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
pinch white pepper
1 tablespoon shredded suet (optional)
2 free-range eggs
200ml/7fl oz milk
50ml/2fl oz water
oil or beef fat, for cooking

preparation time: 10 to 30 mins
cooking time: 30 mins
Serves 4-6

Preparation method
1.Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
2.Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the salt, pepper, suet (if using) and
eggs and beat with a fork to combine.
3.Mix the milk and water in a jug, then gradually add to the flour and
egg mixture, stirring constantly, to create a smooth and creamy
4.Leave the batter to stand for ten minutes.
5.Pour two tablespoons of oil or beef fat into each of the cups of a
muffin tray. Place the muffin tray into the hot oven and leave for 5-10
minutes, until the fat is smoking hot.
6.Carefully remove the muffin tray from the oven. Pour approximately
30ml/1fl oz of batter into each muffin cup, then carefully return to the
oven to bake for 10-15 minutes, until risen and golden-brown. Resist
the urge to open the oven and check on the puddings for at least ten
minutes, as this will hamper their progress.

7.Remove from the oven and serve with the roast of your choice.

On the second night, we changed it up and made Mexican food – fried fish tacos with fresh caught BC cod, homemade guacamole, sauteed peppers, homemade salsa, and all the other fixings were there too!  Served alongside?  What else?  Margarita’s made perfectly in the new Margaritaville machine that the Belluz brothers managed to find!  Don’t think I won’t be buying one of these for summer time at the cottage!  Wow!  😉

I sometimes talk about balance right?  You’ll see at the end of the photos (after my super indulgent weekend – i forgot the mention the platters of Rolo cookies we baked for 3 days straight), my friend Jay showed off his new juicer and to end the weekend off, dinner was a large glass or fruit/vegetable juice.  I wasn’t sure about this at first but it was delicious!  Anyone thinking of buying a juicer?  Highly recommend it – but buy a Costco membership while you’re at it.  You’ll go through A LOT of produce to keep up this habit.  I think Monday night juice at Jay’s is about all I’ll commit to for now…

The last good meal of 2012. Thanks Mike and Steph.

Before the flu kicked my butt for New Years Eve, I went to my freind’s house to learn how to make Pasta Fagioli.  It was perfect (and as it turns out, the last meal I would have in 2012).  I will post the recipe when I make the recipe myself, from start to finish and I know how to explain it well.  In  the meantime, I’ll tease you with the photos.


Swordfish Involtini – one of my favorite dinner party “go to” recipes.

WoW!  Where have I been!!!  It’s been  a while since my last posting but here goes…

Had a dinner party at my Dad’s house with friends, back in November!  This recipe was a hit!


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 cup whole Gaeta olives
  • 1/4 cup salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 1 1/2 cups basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 to 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 oranges, zested
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, plus extra for garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pound piece of swordfish, cut into 4 (1/3-inch-thick) slices by your fishmonger
  • String or toothpicks
  • Fresh oregano leaves, torn
  • Fennel fronds, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.


In a 12-inch ovenproof skillet, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the olives, capers, red pepper flakes, pine nuts and currants. Stir in the tomatoes and wine. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.


In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, orange zest, parsley, the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt and pepper, and mix well.


Season each piece of fish with salt and pepper and place flat on a work surface. Spread the breadcrumb mixture evenly across each of the fish pieces and carefully roll each like a jelly roll, securing each roll with string or with toothpicks. Place the rolls in the skillet with the sauce. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes.


Place 1 roll on each of 4 warmed dinner plates, spoon some of the sauce over each, and garnish with chopped parsley, torn oregano, fennel fronds and olive oil.

Basic tomato sauce:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1/2 medium carrot, finely grated
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
  • Salt

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

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A delicious seafood spread! Tuna Tartare, Mussels and grilled Chilean Sea Bass

With the beautiful summer weather upon us, I was inspired to spend a Saturday picking up some fresh fish and preparing a few courses of seafood!  Delicious and simple!

Brussel Sprouts:

Clean and half brussel sprouts.  Add some olive oil to a frying pan cook and cook a small amount of pancetta in the pan where you will later cook the sprouts.  When they are cooked but not too crispy, remove the pancetta with a fork or slotted spoon to preserve the fat and put aside.   Add the sprouts to the pan that and cook on medium heat until they brown slightly (searing).  After they have browned slightly, add vegetable stock (or chicken stock) to the pan.  Use enough liquid to cover the brussel sprouts by about 80%.  Simmer stirring occasionally.  When liquid has absorbed/evaporated almost completely, test the doneness of the sprouts.  Depending on how firm or soft you like them, you may want to add more liquid and continue cooking or you may want to serve them now.

Tuna Tartare:

Start with some fresh sushi grade tuna.  With a very sharp kitchen knife, chop the tuna steak into very small pieces.  I used approximately an 8oz piece for 2 people as an appetizer and it was more than enough.  Take a ripe avocado and chop finely as well (I cut the avocado about the same size as the tuna).  Mix together with a handful of fresh chopped cilantro, finely sliced green onion, a tbsp or 2 of good quality olive oil, Maldon salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  It should be slightly wet from the oil but not excessively so.  Be generous with the salt…(I added a little bit of fresh lime juice as well)


Portions for mussels are typically, 1/2 lb per person as a starter, 1 lb person as a main course.  I used 2 lbs here and every last mussel got eaten!  But you can use the above info as a guide.

So, with 2 lbs of mussels, fill a clean sink with cold water and soak.  De-beard the mussels (u can u-tube “debearding mussels” if you don’t know what this means).  In a large pot, heat some olive oil and sautee a chopped shallot and then some garlic.  When the onion/garlic is translucent, add the mussels, one cup or so of white wine and the juice of 1 lemon, plus throw the squeezed lemon whole, into the pot.  Douse with Maldon salt and fresh black pepper and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid.  Steam at high heat for 5 minutes and then remove the lid, stir – mixing the mussels up once and cover and finish steaming for 1 or 2 more minutes.  Remove the mussels from the pot, garnish with freshly chopped Italian parsley and serve immediately with a squeeze of fresh lemon.  Simple and delicious.  🙂

Grilled Chilean Sea Bass:

Chop a clove or garlic and put in a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Add a teaspoon of good salt and pepper and set aside.

After about 10 minutes (give time for the garlic to flavor the olive oil), take the pieces of sea bass and brush with the olive oil.  Place of a hot grill and cook until the seabass almost falls apart easily.  Depending on how thick the pieces are, about 5 minutes per side if on high heat.  adjust the temperature so that the fish get nice dark grill marks but not to the point of burning.  Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon.  This is my favorite type of fish.  Buttery in flavor…yum!  (in a small sauce pan, I melted a couple tablespoons of butter and quickly sauteed some capers to pour on top of the fish – you could even throw in a few splashes of white wine and reduce)

Cooking in Paradise! Bread making adventures continued…

This past long weekend (aka the best weather weekend in Canada E-V-E-R) I spent the weekend in cottage country, baking breads and pastry, with some success, and also some failures…you win some, you loose some!  Another day of culinary adventures in the life of Kate!  Nonetheless, good times and it made the following day of sun bathing lakeside, all the more delightful!  🙂

All the bread recipes were taken from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook just like my other bread making days!  The Cranberry, Pecan, Rye loaves were by far the winner but the Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits were also a hit!  Our pastry (used for hors d’oeuvres) was very good too but we didn’t roll it thin enough and it made our appetizer very filling – an easy mistake to correct next time!  A good pastry recipe to try for pie!   I’ll be trying that this summer!  The filling was something we whipped up with fresh sausage meat from Morley Stephens Butcher in Port Carling (http://www.stephensbutchershop.ca/), and mushrooms and mixed herbs we picked from the garden!  The filling was fantastic.