Duck breasts are available in most grocery stores, and they are easy to make. Score the skin so the fat renders, quickly sear and then finish roasting in the oven. This recipe from Chatelaine also features a Szechuan sauce, braised napa cabbage and shiitake mushrooms.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use an all-natural stock such as Imagine Organic brand. Heinz ketchup is additive free and I used honey instead of molasses. Use a balsamic vinegar with only naturally occurring sulfites and tamari instead of soy sauce.

Cross-hatch skin and fat in a diamond pattern

Sear and roast the duck

Meanwhile, saute the shiitakes

Crispy Szechuan Duck with Braised Napa Cabbage and Shiitakes

Ingredients:

1 cup (250 ml) low-sodium chicken broth, divided

4 garlic cloves, minced, divided

2 tbsp (30 ml) ketchup

2 tbsp (30 ml) fancy molasses

1 tbsp (15 ml) minced ginger

2 tsp (10 ml) balsamic vinegar

2 tsp (10 ml) low-sodium soy sauce

½ tsp (2.5 ml) dark sesame oil

½ tsp (2.5 ml) hot-red-chili flakes

2 duck breasts, 14 oz each (400 g each)

¼ tsp (1.25 ml) salt

2 8 oz. (227 g) pkgs fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed

1 small napa cabbage, cut into eighths lengthwise with core intact

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400F (204C) Line a baking sheet with foil.

Whisk ¼ cup (60 ml) broth with half of garlic, ketchup, molasses, ginger, vinegar, soy, sesame oil and chili flakes in a small saucepan and set over medium-high. Boil until sauce thickens and reduces to ½ cup (125 ml), 3 to 5 min. Set aside and cover to keep warm.

Place duck breasts, skin-side up, on cutting board. Using a sharp knife tip, cross-hatch skin and fat in a diamond pattern. Sprinkle with salt. Season with fresh pepper.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium. Place duck, skin-side down, in pan. Cook until skin is golden and crisp, 8 to 10 min. Reduce heat if browning too quickly. Transfer duck, skin-side up, to prepared sheet. Roast until medium-rare, 8 to 10 min. Let stand 10 min before slicing.

Reserve fat from pan in a small bowl. Add 1 tbsp (15 mml) fat to pan over medium-high. Add mushrooms and sauté until soft, 3 to 4 min. Stir into warm sauce in saucepan. Add 1 tbsp (5 ml) of remaining fat to pan, then cabbage. Sauté for 2 min. Add remaining ¾ cup (180 ml) broth and garlic, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, turning cabbage often, until tender, 5 to 7 min. Divide cabbage among 4 plates. Top with mushroom sauce and sliced duck. Serves 4.

From Chatelaine

This recipe from the April 2015 issue of Food and Wine is definitely dinner party-worthy. You can use chicken drumsticks or drums and thighs. Brown the chicken, sauté bacon, vegetables and mushrooms, add wine and thyme and simmer for about 90 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes or egg noodles

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Canola oil can contain artificial ingredients, so check the label. Use bacon preserved with celery salt, not nitrites. I used a red wine from Frogpond Farm that has a sulfite level lower than 10 parts per million. Imagine organic brand chicken stock is additive free.

Brown the chicken legs

Saute the bacon and vegetables

Remove the chicken while you thicken the sauce

Add the chicken back in to reheat

Chicken Legs Coq au Vin

Ingredients:

8 chicken drumsticks (2 pounds/1 kg)

Kosher salt

Pepper

3 tablespoons (45 ml) all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons (30 ml) canola oil

1 slice of bacon, chopped (optional)

½ cup (125 ml) finely chopped carrot

½ cup (125 ml) finely chopped onion

½ cup (125 ml) finely chopped celery

1½ cups (375 ml) chopped mushrooms (3 ounces)

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

½ cup (125 ml) brandy

1 tablespoon (15 ml) tomato paste

1 bottle dry red wine

1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock

2 thyme sprigs, plus chopped thyme for garnish

Preparation:

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust all over with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the flour. In a large cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Add the chicken and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the bacon to the casserole and cook until crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the carrot, onion, celery, mushrooms and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the brandy and cook until reduced by half, 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste and the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of flour until incorporated. Add the wine, stock and thyme sprigs; bring to a boil. Return the chicken to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat, turning the chicken occasionally, until very tender, about 1 ½ hours. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Simmer the sauce until thickened and reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and discard the thyme sprigs. Return the chicken to the sauce and heat through. Garnish with chopped thyme and serve. Serves 4. Make ahead: The coq au vin can be refrigerated for 3 days.

From the April 2015 issue of Food and Wine

This easy rib recipe from the March 2015 issue of Bon Appetit yields delicious results. Pulse chiles, garlic, oil, vinegar, rosemary and hot pepper flakes together in your food processor, smear all over the ribs, wrap up tightly in foil and bake at a low temperature for three hours. Then just run them under the broiler until browned. The meat falls off the bones, and the spicy marinade is delicious. Cook’s note: Fresno chiles look like red jalapenos. If you can’t find them, use green jalapenos instead.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Make sure the rice vinegar has no preservatives. I use Marukan brand.

Coat the ribs with the sauce and wrap tightly in foil

After three hours, the ribs are very tender

Brown the ribs under the broiler

Ingredients:

1 rack St. Louis–style pork ribs (2–3 lb./900 g to 1.36 kg)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 Fresno chiles, seeded if desired

10 garlic cloves

½ cup (125 ml) olive oil

1 tablespoon (15 ml) unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh rosemary leaves

½ teaspoon (5 ml) crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons (30 ml) chopped fresh parsley

Lemon wedges (for serving)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 250° F (120° C. Place a double layer of foil large enough to wrap ribs on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any drips). Set ribs on top and generously season with salt and pepper.

Pulse chiles, garlic, oil, vinegar, rosemary, and red pepper flakes in a food processor until mixture is almost smooth (a few larger pieces should still be visible). Rub ribs all over with marinade and pour any excess over top. Wrap up tightly in foil.

Roast ribs until meat is tender but not quite falling off the bone, 2½–3 hours. To check doneness, run a paring knife through 2 or 3 ribs; it should slide easily into flesh.

Heat broiler. Once ribs are cool enough to handle, remove foil and reserve juices. Place ribs on a clean rimmed baking sheet and broil until charred in spots and marinade has formed a golden-brown crust, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest at least 10 minutes.

Slice meat into individual ribs. Drizzle with reserved juices and top with parsley. Serve with lemon wedges. Serves 4.

From the March 2015 issue of Bon Appetit

This recipe from the January 2015 issue of Bon Appetit is a little unusual, but it is very good. It also introduced me to an ingredient I had never tried before — nutritional yeast. These yellow flakes, a form of deactivated yeast, add a cheesy, nutty flavour to foods and are popular with vegans and vegetarians. A little Google research indicated that a good brand was Purely Bulk, so we picked some up at the health food store. They did add a depth of flavour and umami (savoury taste) to the broccoli. I used a combination of chopped cashews and almonds instead of peanuts.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I use Marukan seasoned rice vinegar, which has no preservatives. Check the label of the nuts, as they can contain additives and preservatives.

Nutritional yeast adds savoury flavour

Cook the florets in a dry skillet until they start to brown

Roasted and charred broccoli with nuts

Ingredients:

1 bunch broccoli (about 1½ lb./680 g), ends trimmed, stems peeled

3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons (30 ml) unseasoned rice vinegar

¼ cup (60 ml) unsalted, roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) sugar

2 tablespoons (30 ml) nutritional yeast, plus more

4 scallions, thinly sliced

Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450° F (232° C). Slice broccoli stems on a diagonal ¼” (0.6 cm) thick. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, toss with oil, and season with kosher salt and pepper. Gather up loose pieces of left-behind florets and finely chop. Roast stems until browned around edges, 15–20 minutes. Add vinegar; toss to coat.

Meanwhile, heat a dry medium skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Add florets. Season with kosher salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until bright green and lightly charred in spots, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add peanuts and sugar. Cook, stirring, until nuts are golden brown. Stir in 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) nutritional yeast; season again.

Serve broccoli stems and florets topped with scallions, sea salt, and more yeast. Serves 4.

From the January 2015 issue of Bon Appetit

Spring may be just around the corner, but while there is still a chill in the air try this delicious baked pasta from Lucy Waverman. This is comfort food at its best – Italian sausages, a creamy sauce and five kinds of cheese. Enjoy it with a salad and a glass of wine.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Look for sausages without fillers or preservatives and for wine with a sulfite count lower than 10 parts per million. Cheese may contain colour, so read the label carefully. Use butter that contains only cream.

After browning sausage, mix ingredients in a bowl

Place pasta in glass baking dish and top with cheese

Bake until bubbling and brown on top

Ingredients:

12 oz (375 g) rigatoni

2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil

3 mild Italian sausages, meat removed from casings (14 oz or 400 g)

½ tsp (5 ml) chili flakes

½ cup (125 ml) white wine

1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream

1 cup (250 ml) milk

8 oz (250 g) ricotta

1 4-oz (125 g) ball buffalo mozzarella, sliced

8 oz (250 g) grated fontina

4 oz (125 g) grated ricotta salata (or feta)

1 cup (250 ml) green peas, defrosted if frozen

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp (15 ml) butter

½ (125 ml) cup grated Parmesan

Preparation:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add rigatoni and cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until pasta is slightly undercooked (it will continue to cook as it bakes). Drain and reserve, reserving 1 cup (250 ml) cooking water separately.

Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble in sausage meat and cook, breaking up with a fork, until it loses its pinkness, 4 to 5 minutes. Add chili flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Add wine and bring to boil. Boil until wine is reduced by half, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in reserved cooking water. Return to a boil then remove from heat.

Transfer contents of skillet to a bowl and allow to cool. Stir in cream, milk, ricotta, buffalo mozzarella, fontina, ricotta salata and green peas. Stir in pasta. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.

Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Butter a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) baking dish. Pour pasta mixture into dish and dot with butter. Cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer or until mixture is bubbling and cheese is golden on top. Serves 6-8.

From Lucy Waverman

This comforting and nutritious soup from Anne Lindsay is very easy to make and ready in less than 45 minutes. Saute onion and garlic, add cumin, red lentils and stock and simmer for a half-hour. Finish with some lemon juice and top with cilantro or parsley.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I use Imagine brand chicken stock, which is additive-free. Use freshly squeezed lemon juice, as the concentrates are bitter and contain preservatives.

Rinse the lentils well before using

Saute lentils with cumin, onion and garlic

Add stock and simmer for a half-hour

Lemony lentil soup

Ingredients:

2 tsp (10 ml) olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

A pinch or two red hot peper flakes

1 tsp (5 ml) ground cumin

1½ cups (375 ml) red lentils, rinsed

6 cups (1.5 L) chicken stock

2 tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice

2 tbsp (30 ml) finely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

Preparation:

Heat oil in Dutch oven. Add onion, garlic and hot pepper flakes and cook on low heat for three to five minutes, until fragrant.

Add cumin and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in lentils and combine well.

Add stock, salt and pepper and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tender and soup is beginning to thicken, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Soup can be pureed, partially pureed or left thick. Add extra stock or water to thin if necessary. Add lemon juice and taste, adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve sprinkled with cilantro or parsley. Serves 6.

From Anne Lindsay

This recipe from Martha Stewart Living is perfect for entertaining. You can use a whole chicken, cut up, or chicken pieces. Roast the chicken with lemon and orange juice, wine, dates and thyme, adding olives partway through. Once the chicken is done, boil the sauce to reduce it and serve over the chicken.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use fresh fruit and their juices. Dates may contain sulfites, so read the label carefully. I used a white wine from Frogpond Farm with no sulfites added and President’s Choice garlic-stuffed green olives.

Squeeze juice over chicken and nestle citrus wedges into chicken

The chicken takes about 40 minutes to cook

Roasted chicken with dates, citrus and olives

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken (about 5 pounds/2.25 kg), cut into 10 pieces

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

1 lemon, quartered

1 orange, quartered, plus ½ cup (125 ml) fresh juice (from 2 to 3 oranges)

¼ cup (60 ml) dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc

12 large soft dates, such as medjool or khadrawi, halved and pitted

3 sprigs thyme

1 cup (250 ml) large green olives

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (232 degrees C). In a large roasting pan, season chicken with salt and pepper; drizzle with oil. Squeeze lemon and orange over chicken, then add fruit to pan. Add wine, orange juice, half of dates, and thyme. Roast 25 minutes.

Remove pan from oven; rotate chicken pieces if browning unevenly. Add olives and remaining dates. Roast until a thermometer inserted in chicken breast (avoiding bone) registers 160 degrees F (71 degrees C), about 15 minutes more. Transfer chicken and citrus to a platter.

Place roasting pan over high heat, mashing some of dates with the back of a wooden spoon, until sauce is reduced and thickened, about 3 minutes. Pour over chicken; serve. Serves 6.

From Martha Stewart Living

This is another recipe from the Barefoot Contessa’s new cookbook, Make It Ahead. It is very easy, nutritious and, of course, you can make it ahead. If you aren’t adept at making a good seal with the parchment paper packets, use a stapler!

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use fresh lemon juice because the concentrates contain sodium benzoate. I use President’s Choice garlic-stuffed olives.

Place fish on parchment and add seasonings and olives

The fish will steam inside the parchment and be done in about 15 minutes

Herb-roasted fish

Ingredients:

4 12 x 16-inch (30 x 40 cm) pieces of parchment paper

4 8-ounce (250 g) boneless fish fillets, such as snapper or cod

2 teaspoons (10 ml) kosher salt

1 teaspoon (5 ml) freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 tablespoons (60 ml) good olive oil

8 large sprigs fresh thyme

8 large green olives with pits

2 egg whites, lightly beaten

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 C).

Place one fish fillet on a piece of parchment paper and sprinkle it with ¼ of the salt and ¼ of the pepper. Drizzle 1 tablespoon (15 ml) each of the lemon juice and olive oil over the top of the fillet. Lay two sprigs of thyme on top and place 2 olives next to the fillet. Repeat with the other three fish fillets.

Brush the egg whites around the edges of the parchment paper and fold in half. Carefully fold the edge of the parchment paper under and around the fish to make a package. Repeat for the other three packages. You can prepare the packages and refrigerate for up to one day. When ready to cook, place the package on a sheet pan and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Serve hot in the parchment paper. Serves 4.

From the Barefoot Contessa’s Make It Ahead


The Barefoot Contessa’s latest cookbook, Make It Ahead, contains make-ahead instructions for every recipe it contains. This garlic and herb roasted shrimp is a terrific dish and so easy. Melt some butter, add olive oil, seasonings and lemon zest. Pour over the shrimp and pop the dish in the fridge. When you are ready to eat, roast the shrimp for about 15 minutes. Serve with crusty bread or rice, and a salad or green vegetable.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use butter that contains only cream and look for shrimp with no additives.

Mix butter, oil and seasonings

Pour mixture over shrimp and top with lemon slices

Garlic & Herb Roasted Shrimp

Ingredients:

¼ pound (125 g/1 stick) unsalted butter

2 tablespoons (30 ml) good olive oil

2 tablespoons (30 ml) minced garlic (6 cloves)

2 teaspoons (10 ml) minced fresh rosemary leaves

¼ teaspoon (1 ml) crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large lemons

2 pounds (1 kg) shrimp, peeled with the tails on

1 teaspoon (5 ml) coarse sea salt

4 slices country bread, toasted

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 C).

Melt the butter over low heat in a medium (10-inch/25-cm) sauté pan. Add the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon (2 ml) black pepper and cook over low heat for one minute. Off the heat, zest one of the lemons directly into the butter mixture.

Meanwhile, arrange the shrimp snugly in one layer in a large (12-inch/30-cm) round ovenproof sauté pan (or 10 x 13-inch/25 x  33-cm baking dish) with only the tails overlapping. Pour the butter mixture over the shrimp. Sprinkle with the sea salt and ½ teaspoon (2ml) black pepper.

Slice the ends off the zested lemon, cut five (¼-inch/6-cm-thick) slices, and tuck them among the shrimp. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes, just until the shrimp are firm, pink, and cooked through. Cut the remaining lemon in half and squeeze the juice onto the shrimp.

Serve hot with the toasted bread for dipping into the garlic butter. To make ahead, prep the dish and refrigerate it in the pan. Roast before serving. Serves 4.

From Make it Ahead by the Barefoot Contessa

If you want to impress your valentine, cook a lovely dinner at home. And to really pull out the stops, make your true love Yorkshire pudding. Traditionally served with roast beef, Yorkshire pudding can also be a dessert, often served with cream and syrup. I had always been intimidated by the thought of making Yorkshire pudding, and any I had eaten were often heavy and greasy. But I tried this recipe a few years ago and the results were great. I like it for two reasons: First, you don’t need pan drippings to make this version, just butter; and second, you can keep the batter in the fridge for up to two hours in advance. You and your valentine will love these tall, light and crispy Yorkshire puddings.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use butter than contains only cream, no colour or preservatives.

You can keep the batter in the fridge for up to two hours

Put a teaspoon of butter into each section of a muffin pan and put in the oven

Add the batter, filling each 2/3 full

Yorkshire pudding

Ingredients:

1 cup (250 ml) flour

3 eggs

1 cup (250 ml) 2% milk

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt

fresh ground pepper

12 teaspoons (60 ml) butter

Preparation:

Add flour to large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl combine the milk, eggs and seasoning. Add half the liquid to the flour and whisk. Add the other half — you want the mixture to be smooth and the consistency of heavy cream.

If it is a bit thick add a little more milk (1 tablespoon/15 ml at a time). Put it in the fridge to rest the batter for 10 minutes or up to two hours. Meanwhile preheat oven to 425 F (218 C).

In a standard size muffin tray put 1 teaspoon (5 ml) butter in each mold. Put the tray in the preheated oven until butter is bubbling and tray is hot, 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the hot tray and fill the cups just under 2/3 full (or they will bubble over). Put the tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Do not open the oven during this time or the puddings will deflate. Bring temperature down to 350 F (177 C) and finish baking for 5 minutes or until tops are crisping and golden.

Remove from oven and pierce with a small knife to release steam. Serve immediately. Makes 12.

From the Globe and Mail

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