Roasted Pear Salad with Pumpkin Seeds & Chèvre

IMG_8956A robust winter salad can break the monotony of root vegetables and mash. This roasted pear over crisp greens salad with a sprinkling of seeds makes a lovely starter. We recently served this salad to a group of sixty, and it was so simple to do for a large group, but its taste and presentation make it special.

It is shown here with a light Crème Fraîche dressing, but is also very good served with a Balsamic Maple Dressing. Continue reading

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

IMG_8930During a busy week in a restaurant kitchen, I was checking the walk-in cooler doing the order for the following week. I came across three big cauliflowers that for some reason hadn’t been used. As the weather was rainy and cool, I decided to roast all the cauliflower and make soup. It sold out the same day. So here it is, simple, nutritious, with the depth of flavour that roasting gives. Enjoy! Continue reading

Roasted Carrot & Apple Purée

IMG_8745Textures and colours have always been important to me when it comes to food. I’ve had two memorable meals that were so off the mark that they made hospital food look good. Both were served on plain white china. Just setting the mood.

The first was served in a small home eatery on one of the Gulf Islands. Dinner was sliced chicken breast, mashed potatoes and cauliflower. Sounds great, yes? No added herbs, sauce, gremolata, or anything resembling colour or flavour, bland, bland, and bland. I could not believe that someone was proud to serve this to paying guests. Of course, maybe they weren’t. Maybe they didn’t care.

The second was at a major restaurant chain. We stopped in for a quick supper during a shopping trip. I ordered Fettuccine Alfredo, looking forward to a velvety sauce full of flavour. What I got: soft noodles smothered in a cream sauce. I couldn’t detect any cheese flavour at all. As well, there was nothing else on the plate, no sprinkling of herbs, not even a sprig of parsley. Disappointment prevailed.

When I plan a menu, I love to incorporate lots of colours and textures, as well as great taste. I’m happiest when I hear people exclaiming how beautiful it all looks, and then look forward to the silence as they all tuck in.

When planning a buffet, I like to have a purée of some sort as part of the mix, nothing soft and mushy, but something with deep, interesting flavours that is firm, as well as having a velvety texture. For an upcoming job, I want to have carrot purée tucked in amongst the other vegetable dishes, to compliment them in colour, but also that has enough flavour of its own, that people will go back to it for seconds.

So here’s what I’ve come up with. Continue reading

Lemon Roasted Prawns

IMG_6045Preparing a lunch the other day for visiting friends, I was wrapped up in a gluten-free, vegetarian, lactose intolerant, garlic-free menu preparation.  I really don’t mind being given parameters to cook from, as it simply narrows down the field of options.  Which is not a bad thing as it helps me to be creative.

Recently I read an article about Instinctos. I suggest you read up on it rather than me trying to explain it in any detail.  The basic premise is that an Instincto is guided by their sense of smell of raw foods, and when the right smell is found, they eat it.  As I have now found the hardest people to serve food to, I won’t complain again about someone’s life choices when it comes to food.

Here’s a very simple garlic-free recipe for prawns that I came up with for the meal.  The prawns were delicious, and I noticed more than one person sucking the cooked lemon away from the peel. Continue reading

Roasted Vegetable Lasagne

IMG_1263Ten years or so ago, I came up with the idea of an art auction to raise money for our community hall.  Everyone could donate art that they no longer wanted on their own walls, or something that they had created themselves.  We had some wild pieces, as well as some that were really beautifully done.  We held another art auction in the summer of 2011, as well as one last summer, which did even better.    We wondered if it was something that we could do year after year.  Apparently there’s no shortage of art that people are willing to donate, and to buy!

The original event was held in April and kicked off with a Lasagne dinner & the Art Auction, followed the next day with a Community Breakfast and Walkathon around the island.  We had a couple of large whalers to transfer us from one point to the next, as we don’t have a circuitous road, more like a wishbone.

Here’s the lasagne I came up with for that event.  We did half of them vegetarian, and half with beef.  My favourite was and still is the vegetarian version.  This recipe makes a large roasting pan full, enough for 18 good-sized servings. Continue reading