Shallots with Sherry Reduction

IMG_5691Back in the day, I used to make pickles, lots of pickles of every sort.  One fall I made many pints of pickled onions, and thought it would be a good idea to top each jar with a small chili.  Unfortunately I used Bird’s Eye Chilies.  There they sat, for several months, infusing my cheerful little onions with their heat.

We opened a jar one night, to sample these wonderful treats, so carefully preserved earlier in the fall.  One bite, and our eyes were streaming, and our throats were on fire.  So much work to create an inedible pickle!  Fortunately for us, we had a friend who’d grown up in Indonesia eating foods far spicier than our palates are used to, and she happily tucked into them.  She graciously accepted the remaining pints.  I’ve never made pickled onions since.

However, I do enjoy the sweet & sour of pickled onions, and this recipe is a worthy substitute.  I love the colour of shallots, from their raw bright purple to their delicate pink when cooked.  Their flavour is sweet and oniony, and when cooked this way, makes an excellent addition to a buffet dinner, or as a garnish on a plated meal, and there’s no unintentional heat. Continue reading

Oxtail Soup


IMG_5318 The first time we went in to pick up beef from the butcher, he asked if we’d like the licker, the flicker, or the ticker.  We stood looking at him like a couple of newbies.  I’m not sure if he actually rolled his eyes, but probably somewhere in his head he was.

The tongue, the tail, or the heart.  Not having had much experience with any of them, we opted for the least embarassing, and said, “yes please.”

So started my fascination with slow braising of the most intensely flavoured muscle meat that a beef animal has to offer.  These aren’t actually organs, they are constantly used muscles, tough because of their use.  They pump, lick, help to swallow, and flick away flies.

The more a muscle is used, the more flavour it has.  The trick is how to get that flavour in an accessible way. In other words, without much chewing!

This soup is one of my all time favourites.  I think I was first introduced to it in a red & white labelled can.  Now it is made once or twice a year (there’s only one tail per animal).  Cook the meat, creating the stock, one day; put together the soup the next.  Take your time, no one is expecting you to rush while making a pot of soup.  Continue reading

Baked Mushroom Risotto

IMG_1170Here it is the beginning of spring and I’m baking a mushroom risotto.  It’s still cold out, although if the sun’s shining while working out in the garden it’s wonderful to feel the heat!  I think that as long as the weather still has us cooking indoors, we can still enjoy a hearty repast.  This dish can be served as a main course, with a few vegetables on the side, or a big crunchy salad.  It also serves well accompanying pork or beef.  I try to serve meat as a component of the meal, not the star attraction.  I think it keeps meals more balanced.  Continue reading