Tuesday, April 19, 2011


At Raincity Grill, one of the first things I learned was that you can make ricotta. And that it's super easy.

We made paneer at home a while back and it's actually very similar. Basically, all you do is take some whole milk and buttermilk, warm it up until the milk solids separate, and then strain. It turns out more dry than the ricotta you can buy in the store (though apparently you can control the consistency of the cheese by the length of time you drain it - for a drier ricotta drain for 15 minutes or more, for a ricotta that is a bit creamier, drain for less). It's also somewhat bland so you need to season it with salt for savoury applications, but I think it's really fun to make, and tasty too.

I used the cheese in a spinach and ricotta cannelloni, but I wasn't very happy with how it turned out, so I'll perfect the cannelloni recipe before I post it.

Yield: 500mL
Print recipe

2L whole milk
2 cups buttermilk

  1. Place milk and buttermilk in a large heavy-bottomed pan.

  2. Turn the heat to medium. After 10 to 15 minutes, the solids will start to separate from the liquid.

  3. Once the mixture reaches 175F, turn off the heat.

  4. Line a fine-mesh sieve with triple-layered cheesecloth and place it in the sink.

  5. Strain the milk mixture through the cheesecloth, leaving the ricotta in the sieve for about 15 to 20 minutes to drain completely.

  6. Season to taste. Can be used right away or can be kept, in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rabbit with Mustard

When we were at Cioffi's the other day, we also bought a whole rabbit. I think I've eaten rabbit once before, in Quebec, when I was younger, but I didn't really remember it, so I was excited to try it again, and cook it myself.

I opened up the package, slightly surprised to find a whole rabbit, so I had to butcher the rabbit myself. I didn't really have any idea what I was doing, but I managed to cut it into six reasonable pieces, four legs and two loins. I braised the meat, and while the sauce was really delicious, the meat ended up somewhat tough. I don't know exactly how it's supposed to be, but I think it could definitely be more moist. I'll have to try it again.

Rabbit with Mustard
Adapted from Joy of Cooking
Yield: 2 servings
Print recipe

1 rabbit, cut into 6-8 pieces
1/3 cup dijon mustard
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup onion or shallot, chopped
1 cup white wine
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp lemon juice
  1. Mix the dijon mustard and thyme leaves in a small bowl.

  2. Generously brush it over each piece of rabbit. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. In a large pot with a lid, heat oil over medium heat.

  4. Add the rabbit pieces and lightly brown on both sides.

  5. Remove meat and reduce heat to medium-low.

  6. Add the onions or shallots to the pan and cook until lightly browned, 1 or 2 minutes.

  7. Add wine, stock, and cream. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.

  8. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.

  9. Return rabbit to pan, cover, and cook gently until tender but still moist, about 45 minutes.

  10. Remove rabbit from sauce, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce until sauce is reduced to about 2 cups.

  11. Add parsley, chives, and lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I've always wanted to make brioche. It's a rich, egg-y, delicious bread, and perfect for French toast.

Adapted from Joy of Cooking
Yield: 1 loaf
Print recipe

2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1/3 cup whole milk, warmed to 105F-115F
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp whole milk
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup bread flour
3/4 cup butter, softened
  1. Combine the yeast and warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let stand until yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes.

  2. Add the all-purpose flour, eggs, sugar, remaining milk, and salt. Mix on low speed.

  3. Gradually stir in the bread flour. Mix until all ingredients are blended.

  4. Knead with the dough hook on low to medium speed for 7 to 10 minutes until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl.

  5. Add butter and knead vigorously until butter is completely incorporated and the dough is once again smooth.

  6. Transfer dough to a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (75F-80F) until doubled in volume, about 90 minutes.

  7. Punch the dough down, knead briefly, and refrigerate, covered, for 4 to 12 hours.

  8. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and let rest for 10 minutes.

  9. Stand the balls in a buttered loaf pan so they are touching.

  10. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, and dough fills the pan, about 1 hour.

  11. Preheat the oven to 375F.

  12. Bake until golden brown and a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

  13. Let cool slightly, then move loaf to a rack to cool completely.

Osso Bucco

We had the best dinner last night. We found this new butcher, Cioffi's, and they have the most amazing selection - whole ducks, rendered duck fat, foie gras, any cut of veal or beef or pork - basically a cook's dream. We bought some veal shanks to make osso bucco, which I served with saffron risotto. I wish I took a picture of the meal because it was probably the best one I've made in a while.

Osso Bucco
Adapted from Joy of Cooking
Yield: 2 servings
Print recipe

2 veal shanks
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, mashed
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup parsley stems
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp lemon zest
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.

  2. Pat dry shanks and season with salt and pepper.

  3. In a Dutch oven with a lid, heat oil over medium-high heat.

  4. Add the shanks and brown well on both sides.

  5. Remove shanks and add carrots, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves, parsley, and thyme. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

  6. Return shanks to pan. Add wine and stock. The liquid should reach about halfway up the shanks.

  7. Increase the heat to high, bring to a boil, cover with a lid, then place in the oven.

  8. Braise for one hour. Turn shanks over. Add more chicken stock if needed to keep liquid level halfway up shanks.

  9. Braise for another hour or until the meat is tender is offers no resistance when pierced with a knife.

  10. Meanwhile, prepare the gremolata by mixing together the parsley, garlic, and lemon zest.

  11. When veal is cooked, add the gremolata and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fish and Chips

Done school. It was rough for a few days, but I'm finally more relaxed, and motivated to start cooking again. First dish up - fish and chips.

We used cod, which I think I don't really like, so the fish wasn't my favourite part of the meal. But I LOVED the chips with the tartar sauce.

Beer Batter
Yield: 6-8 pieces of fish
Print recipe

1/2 tsp yeast
2 tbsp warm water
1/2 bottle room-temperature beer
2/3 cup flour
  1. In a bowl, combine the yeast and water. Let sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved.

  2. Add the beer and flour. Whisk to combine.

  3. Let rest in a warm place for about 30 minutes before using.

Tartar Sauce
Yield: 1 cup
Print recipe

1 egg yolk
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp capers, chopped
1/4 cup gherkins, chopped
1 tbsp chives, chopped
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, mustard, and vinegar.

  2. Using a hand blender, slowly drizzle in the oil. If the mayonnaise gets too thick, add a little bit of water.

  3. Fold in the remaining ingredients and season to taste.

Wedge Chips
Yield: 2-3 servings
Print recipe

5 russet potatoes
oil for frying
salt, to taste
  1. Peel potatoes and cut each potato into six wedges.

  2. Rinse wedges. Place in simmering water. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until just tender. Cool.

  3. Preheat oil to 360F. Carefully place half the wedges into the oil. Fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

  4. Season with salt immediately. Keep warm in the oven while frying the second batch.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Block 11: Week 4 - Vegetables

I'm done school! The year flew by in a flash. I still can't really believe it's over.

It took me a while to post because I was incredibly sad the past few days. Who knew I could get so attached to people in just 11 months? Embarrassingly, I even cried at the bar on Friday night when people started leaving.

Thinking back on the year, I really had an amazing time. There were definitely ups and downs, but overall, I am really happy that I had the opportunity to go to culinary school - I learned a lot about both cooking and myself and I made some wonderful friends.

It was a fun week of school. I was on the vegetable station, so each day we had to prepare three different vegetables, as well as rice and a potato dish. We had a different chef for the last week, so on Monday, I had to stay back and help the incoming dessert group. But desserts is pretty easy, so I spent the day making chocolate peanut butter macaroons, though they didn't really turn out. This week, chef let us all eat dinner in JJ's one night, and I was pretty irritated when the group who ate that night decided to send back their desserts because they weren't plated properly.

Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty regular - prepping veg and then cooking on the line. The line is probably the most intense for the veg group because you have to time things perfectly with the meat station and you don't want overcooked or undercooked veg, and of course, each dish has totally different veg on it.

Thursday was probably my favourite day, though I almost missed it. Chef wanted me to make macaroons again, for the buffet, so I made raspberry macaroons with pink peppercorn buttercream. They turned out really well. And it was my turn to eat dinner at JJ's, and I got to go with a great group of people. Saying goodbye to our IA chef Vanessa was pretty hilarious. It was 80's night at our usual hangout, which made for a great night out.

But it also made for a rough Friday morning, when I had to write the ITA level 2 test. It went surprisingly ok though. Hung out with a couple of classmates until school, counting the cut jar money with her insane cat, and eating a delicious sandwich at Meat and Bread.

The last day of school was a relatively easy day. It was a buffet day and we had done most of the prep the day before. There were supposedly ninety reservations in the books, but it actually seemed less busy than the previous buffet. I was a runner again, which was just fine for me - super easy. We cleaned up really fast again (everyone was pretty anxious to get out of there), and then we took a quick class photo before some celebratory champagne and then we were done! The whole class came out to the bar, which was awesome.

It was quite a year, and I am sad it's over. But I have some wonderful memories and some great friends to take with me. One chapter over. And now, onto new challenges. I'm excited to see what the next year will bring.