Cooking Classes


Whiskey Sour

I realize I haven't logged onto my blog for about 3 years. Yikes. Just doing a test drive today. I have been following David Lebovitz as he takes us on a journey through his new book Drinking French. This isn't one of his cocktails but one I felt like making today.

Whiskey Sour

1 1/2 oz. rye whiskey
1 1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
cocktail cherry

Shake first 3 ingredients in a cocktail shaker half full of ice. Pour into a glass with new ice and garnish with a cherry.


Rhubarb Semi-Freddo

 Rhubarb is the harbinger of spring. It was the first up in my garden. Even ahead of the chives. I have dutifully plucked the smallest, most tender stalks for this recipe. The larger stalks will be made into a rhubarb simple syrup and a rhubarb bitters for summer drinks and cocktails.

Rhubarb Semi-Freddo

2 cups rhubarb, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 slices fresh ginger
2 tablespoons candied ginger, chopped
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
 4 purchased or homemade meringues

Line a loaf tin with kitchen plastic film. Put the chopped rhubarb in a medium-sized saucepan with the sugar, ginger and 2 tablespoons water. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then add the rhubarb and simmer for a few minutes until the rhubarb is soft but still holds its shape. Take off the heat and cool. Remove ginger pieces after cooling.

In a large bowl, whip the egg whites and 1/2 cup of sugar over a pot of simmering water with a hand beater until stiff, then set aside. In another bowl, whisk the yolks with the icing sugar until they’re pale and starting to thicken. Heat the cream to scalding and temper the egg yolks with it. Pour the mixture back into the pot and continue to cook over low heat until thickened. Cool.

When completely cooled, mix the egg white meringue with the egg yolk and cream mixture. Stir in half the meringues, broken.

Gently spoon a third of the cream mixture into the prepared tin and freeze for 20-30 minutes or until  set. Keep the rest of the cream mixture in the fridge. Once it has set, take it out of the freezer and pour in half of the cooked rhubarb. Reserve a little of the cooked rhubarb for decorating later, if you like. Top with another third of the cream mixture and return to the freezer for another 30 minutes. Once this layer has set, add the remaining rhubarb, followed by a final layer of cream. Cover with cling film and put it back in the freezer for 2 hrs to firm up.

To serve, turn it out onto a serving plate and peel away the parchment. Decorate with any reserved rhubarb, the remaining meringue pieces and the candied ginger. Slice and serve immediately.


Spring and Candied Violets

I remember that as a child violets were one of my favourite flowers. We most often found them growing in virgin prairie grass in wooded areas. They are such a delicate sweet flower.

Years later I found candied violets at Harrod's in London and purchased a little packet of them. I don't know how you can even compare these hard candies to the delicate woodland flower. I tried to love the candies but I couldn't.

About seven years ago I moved back to Saskatchewan and purchased a little 1960's bungalow in a mature neighbourhood of a small prairie city. To my delight violets were growing in my backyard. That is the first time I candied my own. They have a delicate flowery fragrance that carries well through drying.

Candied Violets

dried egg powder
small artist's paint brush
parchment paper
fine granulated sugar

Pick the violets with their long stem. Be sure to pick from an area that has not been sprayed with chemicals.

Mix about a tablespoon of dried egg powder with a tablespoon or more of cold water until the powder is completely dissolved.

Dip the flowers into the egg mixture by holding onto the stem. Gently remove any excess egg white with the artist's brush. Clip the flower from the stem with scissors and drop it into dish of sugar. Coat flower with sugar and place on parchment paper to dry.

Dry completely, about 24 hours. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.

Use as a garnish on cupcakes, cakes and ice creams and other desserts. They are edible.


Mushroom and Sausage Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin is not only an economical meal but easy to prepare for a large group. Each tenderloin is browned in a pan then finished in the oven. Can you see where this is going?  Yes, prep all the stuffed tenderloins first. Then heat a large pan or a couple of smaller pans over medium high heat. Add cooking oil to the pans. Heat until almost smoking. Add the tenderloins and turn until all sides are browned. Remember to let the pan release the meat. Otherwise the tenderloin will stick to the pan.

Mushroom and Sausage Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

1 c. chopped mixed wild and cremini mushrooms
1/2 lb. pork sausage meat
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
cooking oil
2 pork tenderloins

Saute the mushrooms in enough cooking oil to cover the bottom of the pan. When the mushrooms are soft add the sausage meat and seasonings. Saute until fully cooked. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, butterfly both tenderloins. Cut down the centre but through so they lie flat. When the mushroom sausage filling has cooled spread it over the flattened tenderloins. Close the tenderloins and tie with cooking string.

Sear on all sides in a hot pan with cooking oil. Remove to a 375 F oven to finish cooking until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 140 F, about 10 - 12 minutes. Place tenderloins on a cutting board and cover with kitchen foil. Let rest for 10 minutes until slicing. Slice into medallions about 1-inch thick. Set on serving platter or individual plates. Spoon pan sauce around and serve immediately.

Pan Sauce: Make the pan sauce by deglazing the cooking pan with 1 cup of chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Add 2 -3 tablespoons of Lowbush Cranberry Mustard. When it is all blended and bubbling add 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir until emulsified.

Lowbush Cranberry Mustard
3/4 c. lowbush cranberries
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 c. red wine
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and boil until tender. Remove from heat. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


Confit of Duck

Confit of duck never grows old. The rich saltiness and flavourful meat is very satisfying. I cooked the three duck legs I found in my freezer. I have always been ultra concerned that the legs are completely submerged in duck fat but it isn't necessary. These are ready for shredding into risotto or a crisp salad. Or straight up with a side salad.

I used gray sea salt from France. It is a coarse salt that will draw out the moisture without leaving an overly salty flavour. If you don't have extra duck fat on hand (who would?) a good quality olive oil can be used.

Confit of Duck Legs

1/4 c. gray sea salt
1 tsp. crushed juniper berries
generous grating of black pepper
pinch of lavender buds
duck fat

Mix salt, juniper berries, pepper and lavender together and rub over the legs. Cover and refrigerate for 1 or 2 days.

Brush off all the seasonings from the legs. Place in a baking pan one layer deep and add another cup of duck fat. Roast at 270 F for about 3 hours or until very tender.

Pack these in the fat and they will keep in the refrigerator for 2 - 3 weeks.


Chicken Paillards with White Wine Veloute

This is beyond satisfying. I must remember to make this more often. It comes together in minutes if you have the velouté ready to go. I will be keeping velouté ready made in the freezer for easy gourmet meals.

A Paillard is a thinly sliced then pounded piece of meat. With the chicken breast I slice it in half horizontally, then pound it very thinly. It cooks in a few minutes and stays juicy tender.

To keep all the flavour, sauté the chicken first and then deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine. Use the same pan throughout.

Chicken Paillards with White Wine Sauce

1 chicken breast
1/4 c. chicken velouté
1/4 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. dry white wine
sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
canola oil

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add enough oil to lightly cover the bottom. Season the pounded chicken breast with sea salt and black pepper. Gently sauté until lightly browned on both sides. Don't turn it until the pan lets it go. When fully seared the pan will release the chicken and it will lift easily.

After browned on both sides and fully cooked, but not overcooked, remove the chicken to a serving plate.

Add wine to the pan and reduce to half. Add velouté and then the cream. Bring to a boil. Pour over the chicken paillards and serve immediately. Serves 1 or 2.

Chicken Velouté

1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
1 c. homemade chicken stock

Melt butter. Stir in flour. Cook for a few minutes so there will be no raw flour flavour. Add hot stock and stir until completely mixed. Let simmer for about 45 minutes to develop flavour. Use immediately or freeze for future use.