Gordon Ramsay’s Shepherd’s Pie

If you want comfort, this Shepherd’s Pie will do the trick. I had never prepared a Gordon Ramsay recipe before (only stared at them in awe), and decided to take a stab at this stewed lamb pie after watching an episode of the F-Word where monsieur prepared this meal for his patrons.


The peculiar/funny thing about his preparation is that he slaughtered a few lambs that he was rearing in his backyard for this special dinner service. Fortunately I am lucky enough to purchase my lamb in slabs, unaware of the final moments of their lives. I prefer it this way.

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Fish (Shrimp) Tacos

Name one place in Toronto that serves fish tacos like they do in California, and you’ve found yourself a new best friend. Don’t bother pointing me to Burrito Boys, because they make fish burritos, not tacos. And come on, no matter what sort of meat you put into one of those burritos, they all turn out tasting the same.

While I wait for that miracle to happen, I thought I’d give a go at making these lovely fold-over parcels myself. The ingredients are simple, and you can find most of the help you need from your pantry. I love meals like this, because they are fast and very fulfilling.

1. Marinate 1/2 lb of peeled and deveined shrimp (or any firm white fish)  in 1/4 cup of milk, 1 tsp cayenne, 1 tbsp hot sauce, 1 tbsp dijon, 1 tsp salt for 1 hour in the fridge

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2. Julienne 2 cups of green cabbage, 1/2 a large red onion, and 1/8 cup of coriander

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3. Combine 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1tbsp dijon mustard, 1tbsp sugar (or honey), 1 tbsp hot sauce (add more if you like it spicy) and 1/4 tsp salt to make dressing

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4.  Dress slaw and allow to sit

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5. Combine 1/4 cup white flour, 1/8 cup cornmeal, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper in a large dish

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6. Dredge marinated shrimp in coating

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7. Deep fry for 2 minutes at 350 degrees Celsius allowing shrimp to turn golden. Drain on paper towel.

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8. Heat tortillas in a dry pan until warm and toasted on both sides

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9. Fold tortilla in half and fill with sliced shrimp and slaw. Serve with sour cream and a wedge of lime on the side.

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Turkey, Stuffing, Gravy, Oh My!

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If there is one thing that is a must for me, it’s a lovely holiday meal. It doesn’t matter how busy one is with their career, work, or running around with the kids, when the holidays roll around, it’s time to put a proper meal on the table.

Turkey is as traditional as it gets when it comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas, although Roast Hams, and Legs of Lamb are often substituted. I love working with turkey, but can’t stand purchasing a whole one. Can you imagine all the turkey that would be left over? All those turkey sandwiches, soups, stews, salads, quesadillas?  I can’t force feed turkey to myself for weeks on end, and I don’t recommend you do either. My simple solution is to purchase turkey breast.

Many of you will argue that you prefer dark meat, and I don’t blame you. It is a lot more flavourful. However, I come from the school of thought that if prepared properly, a slice of turkey breast can be as juicy, tender, and succulent. At the end of the day, it’s all about technique. Nonetheless, if you’re a stickler for dark meat, turkey drumsticks are sold on their lonesome as well.

Butter basted turkey is boring to me. I mean, you’re going through all this effort to put a memorable meal on the table, you might as well go the extra mile. I season my turkey with a variety of herbs, olive oil, and seasonings and marinate it over night so that the flavours permeate the meat.

I roast the turkey in a pan with seasonal vegetables. This year I opted for sweet potatoes. They caramelize in the oven while your bird cooks, and soak up the juices and fat let out by the turkey. As sides, I prepare mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and a lovely gravy flavoured by the turkey juices collected in the pan after baking. Please, please, please…if cranberries are in season, do take the 5 minutes necessary to make fresh cranberry sauce. There is nothing like it.  The sweet and sour tang of fresh cranberry sauce trumps tinned cranberry sauce any day, and your efforts will be validated by the smiles of satisfaction around the table.


Easter is around the corner, and it’s almost time for that holiday meal. Time to pull out those roasting pans once again!

Tuesday Lunch

I’ve been finding myself in the kitchen a lot recently. I’ve also grown the need to document every meal I cook, and every bite I take. It’s not an obsession…at least not yet.

Today I decided to explore the classic pairing of apple and pork. I call this dish “Roast Loin of Pork with Bacon Sauteed Savoy and Apple Cognac Compote”.

1. Liberally season loin of pork with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Pan sear until medium-well (or sear, and bake in oven at 375 degrees Celsius  for 10 minutes). Allow meat to rest for 5 minutes.

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2. Dice and sautee two strips of smoked bacon until crispy. Add 1/4 cup of onions and cook until caramelized.

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3. Add I cup of julienned Savoy cabbage. Deglaze pan with 1/4 cup of chicken stock being sure to scrape bacon juices from bottom of pan. Cook for 3 minutes, or until cabbage is slightly tender.

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4. Next, in same pan pork loin was prepared, add 1/4 cup of onions and cook until caramelized. Peel, seed, and slice one granny smith apple and add to pan. Add a couple of knobs of butter, and allow apples to soften. Deglaze pan with 1/8 cup of cognac (or calvados). Add 3/4 cup of chicken stock, and 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard. Allow to reduce until apples are tender and liquid had thickened.

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5. Slice rested loin on the bias.

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6. Plate

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Turning a bad food day into a good one

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Today was not a proud day in the land of Vijaya. I had an egg McMuffin breakfast a la McDonald’s (eek), followed by a Weetabix lunch. It’s pretty sad I know, but every foodie has one of “those days”. And if it makes you or I feel any better, I had the most fantastic gelato yesterday (stay tuned for that post!).

I wasn’t in the mood to go anywhere or do anything, because my neck and back were in excruciating pain. I turn on the TV, and low and behold I am watching one of the most annoying food network hosts, Rachael Ray. I gotta give it to this lady, her spunk and enthusiasm have put her up with the likes of Martha Stewart, but god help me if I have to hear her whiny voice spell out E-V-O-O (extra virgin olive oil) once again. Anyhow, she somehow hooked me into watching her for 10 minutes of one of her 30 minute meals episodes. I think I lasted that long because I was hungry, and also because I got inspiration (I hate to admit it) to prepare that meal. So much so, that I got ready, went out and picked up 2 ingredients that I needed.  Chicken with mushroom cream sauce, here I come!

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My version is a loose adaptation of Ms. Ray’s:

I substitute the whipping cream for 3 tablespoons of sour cream.

I nix the balsamic vinegar all together and instead opt to deglaze the fried mushroom, garlic, and onion mixture with ¼ cup of white wine, after which I add the stock.

Instead of thickening with flour, I allow the chicken stock to reduce to half, and then had the sour cream which helps creates a thick sauce.

I opted for spaghetti instead of orzo. Choose whatever pasta you have at home/like best.

All in all, it was pretty delicious, and fast to prepare!

Here’s the link :


Cassoulet, take me away!

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Cassoulet is one of those dishes if done right keeps you coming back for more. Fortunately, my first experience with cassoulet was a good one, and as authentic as they came. In September, I was fortunate enough to be in Paris, France. We made our stops at Berthillon, Pierre Herme, and Poilane. But my heart yearned for this bean stew native to the south of France. One of my aunts whom we visited there heard my call and set down a large dutch oven in front of me that I will never forget.

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The stew was filled with white beans, tender chunks of lamb, and Toulouse sausages that were garlicky and smoky all the same. I couldn’t bare to go home and never taste it again, so she froze some in a Rubbermaid, and I hid it in my luggage just before departing for home. Shh, don’t tell anyone 😉

I went home with one mission: to prepare a cassoulet of equal calibre. That hefty mission unfortunately held me back for a couple of months. Toulouse sausages are not that easy to come by folks, and that discouraged me. Then I started watching food network, and noticed the rise in popularity of this somewhat unknown dish in North America. Many of the chefs made substitutions, and I figured I’d do the same.

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The outcome was spot on. The flavours were there, and I was feasting on cassoulet for a week. My friends, some who were familiar with the dish and others who weren’t, enjoyed it too! Remember, cassoulet always tastes better the day after when it has had time to allow its flavours to marry 🙂

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Here’s the recipe:


900g of White Kidney Beans Soaked Overnight

4 strips of smoked bacon diced

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons of duck fat

1 large onion diced

2 large carrots cut into half inch cubes

4 stalks celery cut into half inch cubes

6 garlic cloves minced

Half a can of tomato paste

3 sprigs of parsley

5 sprigs of thyme

I sprig of rosemary

2 bay leafs

1 cup of white wine

6 sweet Italian Sausages (or Touluse if you can find them)

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into large pieces (4 pieces per thigh)

1.5 L chicken stock (or enough to cover the beans)

Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Soak the white beans overnight. If in a time crunch, place white beans in a pot and cover by 3 inches of water, bring to a boil for 2 minutes, turn off heat, and let beans stand covered for 1 hour.

2. In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil and brown sausages. Remove sausages when brown on all sides (its okay if they are still pink in the middle).

3. Season chicken thigh pieces with salt and pepper and brown in remaining olive oil. Remove from pan (its okay if they are still pink in the middle).

4. Next, add smoked bacon to the pan. Fry until golden, and visible drippings form in pan. Add duck fat, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and all herbs to the pan. Sautee until onions are translucent.

5. Add tomato paste, and cook mixture for 10 minutes. The oil in the pan should take on the tinge of the tomato, and the paste should caramelize.

6. Deglaze the pan with white wine, scraping the bottom to bring up fondant (caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan)

7. Add beans, chicken stock, and season liberally with salt and pepper.

8. Return sausages, and chicken to the dutch oven.

9. Cover, and cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until beans become tender, and liquid reduces slightly.

10. Serve with crusty French bread