Category Archives: Side dish

Caramelized Mire Poix (Root vegetables)

Mire Poix is the basis of all French stock making and the foundation of most soups: a dice of carrot, celery, leek, and onion. This vegetable dish takes that combination and adds a couple of additional flavours to make a great winter vegetable dish. For a vegan preparation, use olive oil and vegetable stock.

2 leeks
4 carrots
1 celery root
2 parsnips
1 rutabaga
2 tbsp butter or olive oil
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp freshly chopped parsley

Wash and trim leeks, and peel carrots
Cut into 1/2 inch rounds
Peel other root vegetables and cut into a large dice (1/2 inch)
Sauté vegetables in butter or olive oil until lightly coloured
Cover with stock, season, and bring up to a simmer
Cover lightly, and braise in a hot oven until tender, 1/2 hour or so
Remove from oven, and add chopped parsley before serving

Steamed White Asparagus with Cara Cara Orange Sabayon and Toasted Almonds

1 lb white asparagus
2 Cara Cara oranges (or blood oranges)
1/2 cup orange juice
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup toasted chopped almonds

Peel white asparagus and trim ends
Peel and section oranges, reserving juice
Place two pots of water on stove:
one 3/4 full of salted water (for cooking the asparagus) and bring to a boil,
the other 1/4 full of warm water (for making the sabayon) but don’t turn it on yet.
Place orange juice in a medium bowl and add egg yolks and a pinch of salt
Place bowl over the pot of warm (not hot) water and turn onto medium high heat
Whisk continually until light, airy, and very hot to the touch.
Add butter, 1 tbsp at a time, whisking until well incorporated
Turn off heat, but leave bowl remaining on top to stay warm until asparagus is cooked.

Place asparagus in boiling salted water and cook until tender, 3 minutes or so
Place 4 spears asparagus on each plate, and top with 1/4 cup of the sabayon
Top with 4 orange segments and 1 tbsp chopped almonds.
Serve immediately

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Seared Beef Tenderloin with Shiitake Mushroom Ragout

4 portions beef tenderloin (5-6 oz each)
steak spice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste

Season tenderloin well with steak spice and rub with chopped garlic and olive oil.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (may be left overnight)
Bring back to room temperature before cooking
Season steak well with sea salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Heat a cast iron pan over high heat until very hot
Place tenderloin into pan and sear until nicely browned on one side
Turn over, brown lightly on second side, and place entire pan into the preheated oven
Cook for 5-7 minutes, until pink in centre and temperature registers 130 degrees for a nice pink
Remove pan from oven (and steaks from pan) and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.


2 Tbsp. butter
2 shallots, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lb. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 cup beef or veal demi glace

Melt butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Sauté shallots and garlic until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add mushrooms and sauté until golden, 5 to 6 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with sherry.
Add demi glace and simmer until hot.
Season to taste and reduce to adjust consistency if required.

Potato Puree

2 lb Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup butter
salt to taste

Boil potatoes until tender, drain well and rice while still hot.
Bring cream and butter to a boil and pour over potatoes
Whisk well and season to taste
Adjust consistency with milk or cream if desired

Let Us Give Thanks….

Growing up Catholic always meant a fair amount of pageantry over a holiday or season with any kind of a message or virtuous overtone. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, and as Thanksgiving passes (even though my days of acceptance of organized religion in any form are long behind me) I always look at it as a time to reflect on the good fortune that we have here, and share that celebration with those close to us. Seeing as we had just celebrated birthdays a few weeks ago with the family, we decided that this year (still reeling from the reality of actual weekends off, and a long weekend to boot) we would have some good friends over for dinner Thanksgiving weekend.

The menu ingredients were quite predictable: turkey, cranberry, pumpkin, etc.
Some things are meant to be honoured with tradition, and the palette from which to cook Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner are among the most sacred. I have a long standing agreement with my wife: Christmas dinner will involve a strict menu of: A whole roasted stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes, mashed carrots and parsnips, brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce and gravy. Nothing More. Nothing Less. Thanksgiving on the other hand, there is some latitude allowed in the preparation of said sacred foodstuffs. A few years back, I had brought home some turkey confit and a brined turkey breast from the restaurant for a quick dinner for just the four of us. My son, the younger, declared turkey confit to be the finest food on the planet and henceforth a necessity whenever possible.

So, that brings us to the menu for the Thanksgiving dinner, Chez Green:

Turkey confit: of course

Brined roasted turkey breast: ditto

Mashed potatoes, parsnips and carrots, brussel sprouts: easy accompaniments

Stuffing (made in a casserole dish, but traditional ingredients) and gravy: must haves

Dessert: pumpkin pie (alright, this is sounding like a traditional dinner, but at least we’re having the confit!!!)

For something to start, I figured I would make something to nibble on, and settled on making a wheel of brie baked in pastry with cranberry chutney. Great sliced and smeared on fresh baguette.

The turkey was in the fridge the day before, as the process of confit and brining is a 2 day affair, so I set out to transform the humble bird into a duo of exquisite proportions. Legs off and deboned, I ran out to the garden for a sachet of herbs, and along with some coarse salt and pepper set the legs on their way marinating overnight in a colander. This allows the leg to cure slightly, draw out some moisture, and seasons it well. (The colander is placed inside a second bowl which catches any liquid that comes out.) That accomplished, I prepared the brine, and once cooled thoroughly, place the turkey breast in a large bag and poured the brine over, sealed it well, and placed it in the refrigerator. The bones were roasted and a stock prepared for the following day’s stuffing and gravy.

Morning of the dinner, a trip to market for the vegetables, and stage two of confit. Now the process of confit involves large amounts of fat, animal or otherwise as a cooking medium, so it’s important to understand the reasoning behind the process. In years gone by, before refrigeration, preservation of meat for the winter was a real necessity. When a pig was killed, a multistage process was a group undertaking to maximize the investment for the family’s food source. Fresh pork was made in to sausage, some meant for immediate consumption, some to be hung, smoked, and dried for later. Legs were salted and dried for hams, belly cured for bacon, and fat rendered for lard. The lard was then used for both cooking and storing of cooked meats for the winter (hence the term larder to mean a pantry) Confit was one of these processes that used it for both. Meat salted ovenight, then gently poached in its own fat is exceptionally tender and flavourful, and once the cooking process complete, could be packed away in an earthenware crock, the cooking fat poured over to create a sealed environment free of oxygen for preservation, and set in a cold place for several months for storage. in the winter, the confit would be reheated, removed from the fat, and eaten. History lesson aside, confit has become one of those traditional dishes that defies description. The simplicity of the process is easily understood, but easily done incorrectly, as it requires a low flame and a watchful cook to maintain the temperature at a gentle simmer, and a steady hand to remove it from the pan when cooked, as it’s quite tender. Done well, it’s a thing of beauty.

I placed my 2 litres of lard into a largish pot, and brought it up to just over the boiling point. (225 F) The legs were submerged gently, flame adjusted to medium low for now, and once the temperature had re-established its boiling point, dropped down to quite low. The whole idea is to maintain the cooking temperature at boiling (212 F / 100 C) for 2 hours, allowing the meat to slowly poach. Project well under way, I prepared the cranberry chutney, and easy one pot affair, and set it aside to cool. I made pastry, enough for both my pie and the brie, and set both batches aside to rest. I took a few minutes to peel vegetables and prepared a bit of trim fro the gravy, and set out to figure out how to authentically recreate stuffing outside of the bird.

I prepared my mix as I usually would and figured I had to account for two things in the cooking process: indirect heat, the effect of being insulated inside the bird and not get too crispy around the edges; and the moisture added to the cooking process from the turkey cooking around it. The first part was easily solved: a double layer of parchment inside a large ceramic casserole dish to protect it, and the second by a regular basting with a ladle of turkey stock as it cooked, every 15 minutes for an hour.

Stuffing and vegetables well in hand, I rolled out the pastry, lined the pie plate for the pumpkin and blind baked it, and prepared the brie. Very simple, just a large round of pastry, a wheel of brie or camembert inside, a thick layer of chutney, and then the pastry folded over to encase it all. I set it in the fridge for half an hour to chill, quickly made the pie filling (yes you can use good quality canned pumpkin), and brought the breast out of the brine.

The pie shell came out of the oven, in went the brie for 45 minutes, allowing the shell to cool somewhat, at which point I filled it and placed the pumpkin pie into the oven alongside the brie. The brie came out 15 minutes later or so, and figuring I had half an hour before the pumpkin pie would be ready and the oven free, I checked the confit. Nice and tender, I gently lifted it out and placed it on a rack to drain of excess fat and cool enough to handle. I set is aside, rubbed the breast down with olive oil and salt and pepper, and placed it on a rack in the roasting pan, ready to replace the pie in the oven. The last of my major chores finished, I removed skin, bone, and tendon from the confit and shredded it, placing the tender meat into a casserole dish. I strained the leftover fat for another future batch (to be stored in the fridge), taking care to set the last little bit aside, which is a small amount of very intensely reduced turkey juice, (it looks like caramel), and put that separately into the fridge in a small bowl. It sets very quickly, allowing you to skim the fat off the top and put the turkey essence into the confit for when it is reheated. (trust me on this, it’s magic)

Confident all I had to do was cook a few veggies, the rest of the evening turned to the real essence of the day: How fortunate for us that we have a beautiful environment, clean air and water, a standard of living and quality of life second to none, and people to share it with. No matter how many things go on in the course of one year, how many changes one goes through in a lifetime, when you stop and take a moment to look at the big picture, life in Canada’s pretty darn good.