Archive for November, 2023

This recipe from Food and Drink magazine is labour-intensive, but the results are worth the effort. Roast squash cubes and unpeeled garlic until tender. Meanwhile, combine the cheeses, egg yolks, basil and seasoning. Cook the pasta shells and drain. Puree the cooked squash and peeled cooked garlic with cream, vodka, tomato paste and seasoning. Pour half the squash sauce into a baking dish and top with shells stuffed with cheese mixture. Pour remaining sauce overtop, sprinkle with more cheese and bake.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Tre Stelle ricotta, No Name pizza mozzarella, No Name tomato paste and genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano (look for the name stamped on the rind) are additive-free.

Place stuffed shells over half of sauce, top with the rest of the sauce and sprinkle with cheese before baking

Broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese

Stuffed shells with vodka butternut squash sauce


1 medium-size butternut squash, peeled, cut into large cubes

6 garlic cloves, trimmed with peel on

2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil

1 tub (475 g) traditional ricotta

2 cups (500 ml) shredded mozzarella, divided

1 ½ cups (375 ml) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino, divided

2 egg yolks

¼ cup (60 ml) finely chopped basil, plus 1 to 2 tbsp (15 to 30 ml) small basil leaves to garnish

1 tsp + ¼ tsp (5 ml + 1 ml) kosher salt

1/8 tsp (0.5 ml) freshly ground black pepper, plus generous pinches

½ lb (225 g) jumbo shells, about 35

1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream (35%)

¼ cup (60 ml) vodka

1 tube or can (156 ml) tomato paste


Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).

Spread out squash cubes and garlic on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Roast in centre of preheated oven until very tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. Stir and shake pan a couple of times during roasting to prevent any sticking.

Meanwhile, add ricotta and half of mozzarella and Parmigiano to a bowl. Set remaining grated cheeses aside. Whisk yolks, ¼ cup (60 ml) chopped basil, ¼ tsp (1 ml) salt and generous pinches of pepper into ricotta mixture. Set aside.

Bring a large pasta pot of water to a boil. When boiling, salt the water then tumble in shells, separating as you add. Cook, stirring occasionally, until almost al dente, about 8 to 9 minutes. You’ll likely need to knock a couple of minutes off the cooking time listed on the package. Carefully scoop out 1 cup (250 ml) pasta water and set aside in case you need to thin the sauce later. Drain and cold-rinse pasta.

When squash is done, let cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F (177°C).

Turn slightly cooled squash into a food processor. Squeeze garlic out of its papery skins into food processor. Whirl until chopped. Add cream, vodka, tomato paste, remaining 1 tsp (5 ml) salt and 1/8 tsp (0.5 ml) pepper. Whirl until puréed. If very thick, whirl in reserved pasta water until thinned to a tomato paste consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

Pour half of sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 32-cm) baking dish. Fill each pasta shell with about 1 tbsp (15 ml) ricotta filling before adding to the sauced pan. Pour remaining sauce overtop. Sprinkle with reserved cheese. Seal dish with foil. Bake until lightly bubbling and cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and broil until lightly golden, about 5 more minutes. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with basil leaves. Serve warm. Serves 6-8.

From Food and Drink

This tasty recipe from NYT Cooking puts dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes. Combine oil, yogurt, spices, ginger and garlic and coat the fish with the mixture. Put the fish on top of spinach on a sheet pan and roast until the fish is almost done. Broil for a few minutes to brown the fish and serve.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Check the spices to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents. I used Oikos Greek yogurt, which is additive-free.

Make the spicy yogurt marinade

Coat the fish in the marinade and place on top of spinach before roasting


1 ½ pounds (680 g) firm, white-fleshed fish (such as cod, bass or halibut, cut into chunks)

¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil or any neutral oil

2 tablespoons (30 ml) full-fat Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon (15 ml) garam masala

1 teaspoon (5 ml) red chile powder

1 teaspoon (5 ml) ginger paste or freshly grated ginger

1 teaspoon (5 ml) garlic paste or freshly grated garlic

1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground coriander

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) ground turmeric

Fine sea salt

1 pound (454 g) baby spinach (about 14 packed cups/3.5L)

Rice or roti, for serving


Heat the oven to 425 degrees F (218 C). Pat the fish dry and set aside.

Combine the oil, yogurt, garam masala, chile powder, ginger, garlic, coriander, turmeric and 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt in a large bowl and stir until the marinade is smooth. Add the fish and coat evenly.

Arrange the spinach in an even layer on a large sheet pan. Place the fish on the spinach, dispersing it evenly. Bake on the top rack for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the fish starts to turn golden.

Set the oven to broil and broil on high just until the fish turns golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt. Serve with rice or roti, if desired. Serves 4.

From NYT Cooking

I recently bought Canadian chef Mary Berg’s new cookbook, In Mary’s Kitchen. It contains lots of good recipes, including this onion soup. Caramelize onions and add butter, garlic and maple syrup. Deglaze the pan with brandy and balsamic vinegar. Add stout and stock and simmer for about 30 minutes. Ladle the soup into oven-proof bowls, top with bread and cheese and broil until browned. Cook’s note: I used regular beer and chicken stock

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use pure maple syrup and fresh herbs. I used Acetaia La Bonissima Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, Steam Whistle beer and Imagine Organic chicken stock. Check to be sure the cheddar does not contain colour.

Caramelize the onions

Add beer and stock after deglazing the pan

Top soup with bread and cheese and broil until lightly browned


3 tablespoons (45 ml) unsalted butter, divided

4 medium yellow cooking onions, thinly sliced

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon (15 ml) maple syrup

2 teaspoons (10 ml) finely chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon (15 ml) finely chopped fresh sage

1 fresh bay leaf, optional

2 tablespoons (30 ml) brandy

1 tablespoon (15 ml) balsamic vinegar

1 cup (250 ml) Irish stout

4 cups (1 L) beef stock

4 x ½-inch (1.27-centimeter slices country bread, toasted

1–1 ½  cups (250-375 ml) grated cheddar cheese


In a large saucepot over medium-low heat, melt two tablespoons (30 ml) of butter, add in the onions, and season with kosher salt and pepper. Give the onions a stir and allow them to cook, stirring frequently, until softened and starting to brown slightly, about 15 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium/medium-high, add in the remaining butter, garlic, and maple syrup, and allow the onions to cook and caramelize for ten more minutes, stirring frequently. Turn the heat down to low, add in the herbs, and deglaze the pan with the brandy and balsamic vinegar, stirring very well and scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate any of the golden bits that have developed.

Add in the Irish stout and allow it to bubble until reduced by half then stir in the beef stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pot and allow it to cook for 25 to 30 minutes to allow the flavours to meld.

Season the soup with more salt and pepper to taste then ladle it into four oven-safe soup ramekins or French onions soup dishes. Turn the broiler on to high and top each ramekin of soup with a piece of country bread and a good scattering of Irish cheddar. Broil until lightly browned, about three to five minutes, making sure to keep your eye on it so that the cheese and toast don’t burn.

Allow to cool slightly before serving. Serves 4.

From In Mary’s Kitchen

This sheet-pan meal from NYT Cooking combines cubed chicken breast with zucchini, bell pepper and salad. Marinate the chicken briefly and then arrange on a sheet pan with chunks of zucchini and sliced red pepper. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and set the chicken and vegetables aside. Strain the pan juices and add oil and parsley. Divide romaine lettuce and cherry tomatoes among the serving plates, top with the chicken mixture, feta and dressing.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use freshly squeezed lemon juice. Check the oregano to make sure it does not contain colour or anti-caking agents. Krinos or Tre Stelle feta cheese is additive-free.

Place the cubed chicken, zucchini and red pepper on sheet pan

Set cooked chicken and vegetables aside, strain the pan juices and use them for the vinaigrette

Place romaine and tomatoes on plates and top with chicken, vegetables, cheese and the pan-juice vinaigrette


½ cup (125 ml) plus 1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice

1 teaspoon (5 ml) minced garlic

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) dried oregano

Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal) and pepper

1 ½ pounds (680 g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch (2.54-cm) pieces

1 large zucchini, cut into 1-inch (2.54-cm) pieces

1 medium red bell pepper, halved, cored, seeded and sliced ½-inch- (1.25-cm-) thick

2 tablespoons (30 ml) chopped fresh parsley

1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped (8 cups/2 L)

8 ounces (227 g) cherry tomatoes, halved (about 2 ½ cups/625 ml)

3 ounces (85 g) feta cheese, sliced or crumbled


Heat oven to 450 degrees F (232 C). In a large bowl, combine 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of the oil with the lemon juice, garlic and oregano; season with salt and pepper then whisk to combine. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper, then toss to coat, massaging the marinade into the chicken.

On a large rimmed sheet pan, combine zucchini, bell pepper and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the oil. Season with salt and pepper, toss to coat, then spread in an even layer. Arrange chicken on top in an even layer. Roast until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender but still have texture, 15 minutes.

Transfer chicken and vegetables to a large plate. Strain the pan juices through a fine sieve into a small bowl; add the remaining ¼ cup (60 ml) oil and the parsley and whisk until well blended.

Divide romaine and tomatoes among plates. Top each with some of the chicken, vegetables, cheese and a drizzle of the pan-juice dressing. Serve warm. Serves 4.

From NYT Cooking