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Great Cause, Great Women, Great Food! (September 24, 2007)

Great women do great things, and sometimes the great things are also a very great deal of fun! Laugh Lines is just that and, after five hugely successful years, is one of the best and most popular breast cancer fundraising events. A non-stop evening with wickedly funny female stand-up comedians, fabulous door and raffle prizes, your best friends alongside you enjoying the show, and the main purpose: raising a lot of money for the Rapid Diagnostic Breast Clinic at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto! You live here, you be there at Yuk Yuk's on October 3! (

But... not everyone can be so geographically lucky, so wherever you are, put on your own event and gather your best friends around for the cause. Rent the funniest shows and howl away over some great food and drinks. Pass the basket and donate your evening's take. You'll have a ball for a cause... Your very own personal Laugh Lines!

Great women are in the kitchen too, and one of our favourites is Seattle-based Kathy Casey. In her latest hot cookbook, Northwest Table, Chef Casey, a well-known expert on Northwest cuisine, shares 100 it-doesn't-get-more-delicious-than-this recipes from cocktails to desserts.

Kathy Casey is celebrated for her ability to dazzle the palate and is widely recognized for her role in bringing women chefs and Northwest cuisine to national prominence. She owns Kathy Casey Food Studios, a food, beverage and restaurant consulting venue in Seattle, and Dish D'Lish, featuring fresh-made Food T' Go Go and a line of specialty products.

Here at home in Toronto is another great food writer, editor and cookbook author, Julia Aitken, whose best-seller, 125 Best Entertaining Recipes, has just been re-issued! Not a moment too soon, as our original copy was so well loved and spattered it was falling apart! Julia is also currently the food editor for OWL and Canadian Family Magazine, and is the person I turn to for up-to-date information on food trends, chefs, and story ideas! No wonder her book is such a gold mine... so's Julia Aitken! She's a fabulous hostess; we understand why her guests never cancel when she entertains!

We love Julia's recipe for Tandoori Chicken with Mango Dip; it's a perfect party dish and makes a fine light supper as well. She's got 124 other perfect recipes plus tips for the best and most entertaining events!

So now you've got the food and drink... make your own Laugh Lines evening with your best friends, a stack of DVDs of your most loved women comedians... Lily Tomlin comes to my mind along with Judy Croon, Paula Poundstone and the much missed Gilda Radner... and start with Kathy Casey's Cherry Mojitos served with Sesame Roasted Shrimp Sticks. Move on to Smoked Salmon and Little Cornmeal Pancake Bites and Kathy's Cheddar Ale Spread with Overnight Rosemary Semolina Flat bread while Julia Aitken's Tandoori Chicken comes out of the oven; you and your friends will have a great evening, and all for such a good cause!

Thanks, Kathy and Julia for helping Laugh Lines!

On today's menu:

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Sesame Roasted Shrimp Sticks with Zippy Apricot Dipping Sauce

Better make a triple batch no matter the numbers coming! These go perfectly with the Mojitos and slide down sooooo easily! Just don't have one ready to pop in your mouth when Lily Tomlin comes on the screen!

Makes 16 to 20 pieces

  • 1 Tbsp dry English mustard, or more if you want it extra zippy
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • ¾ cup apricot jam
  • 1 Tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 large or 2 small green onions, very thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 egg white
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 Tbsp Asian sesame oil
  • 2½ to 3 Tbsp sesame seed (Karen says "I like to use a mixture of 3 parts white and 1 part black seeds")
  • 1 pound large shrimp (16 to 20)
  • 16 to 20 four-to-six-inch bamboo skewers, soaked in water for one hour

Make the sauce first, up to 3 days ahead. In a small bowl, mix the mustard and water and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients until well mixed. If made ahead, refrigerate the sauce until shortly before serving. Serve the sauce warmed or at room temperature.

To prepare the shrimp, preheat an oven to 475°F. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white, salt, five spice, and oil. Put the sesame seed in a small bowl. Lightly oil a baking sheet or spray with vegetable-oil cooking spray. Peel, devein and remove tails from the shrimp. Drop the shrimp into the egg white mixture and toss to coat thoroughly.

Skewer a shrimp, curled into a circle, on the tip of a skewer, so that it looks like a shrimp "lollipop." (Be sure to thread both head and tail ends of shrimp onto the skewer.) Sprinkle each side of shrimp with sesame seed. Repeat with the remaining shrimp. As each skewer is done, lay it on the baking sheet, spacing the skewers apart, not touching.

Roast the shrimp for about 5 minutes, or until just cooked though and pink.

Serve the shrimp skewers on a platter and the sauce in a small bowl with a tiny spoon for drizzling, or plate them with a small puddle of sauce.

Tony's wine recommendation:
An off-dry white wine – Riesling Spätlese from the Rheingau or Mosel, off-dry Ontario Riesling, Alsace Gewürztraminer


Cheddar Ale Spread with Overnight Rosemary Semolina Flat Bread

What a combo; tangy cheddar cheese, hazelnuts and a craft-brewed beer... all together making a full-bodied spread, just right to smear over a crisp flat bead or crostini. Yessssssssss!

Makes 6–8 servings

Cheddar Ale Spread

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2½ cups (10 ounces) shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tbsp half-and-half
  • ¼ tsp Tabasco sauce
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup flavourful beer
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted, skinned and coarsely chopped
  • Overnight Rosemary Semolina Flat Bread (recipe follows)
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnishing

Combine the cream cheese, mustard, Cheddar, half-and-half, Tabasco, and salt in a food processor. Process for about 30 seconds, add the beer, and continue processing until very smooth. Pulse in the parsley and hazelnuts until just dispersed.

Serve in a nice-looking container with the flat bread attractively broken up around it. Garnish with rosemary sprigs.

Chef's note: You can keep the spread, refrigerated, for up to 4 days. Bring it to room temperature about 1 hour before serving.

Overnight Rosemary Semolina Flat Bread

Worth the effort…this bread is so crisp and tasty and perfect with the Cheddar Ale Spread. What are the rest of you having?......

  • 1 package active dry yeast (2¼ tsp)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110°F), plus more if needed
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2½ cups flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 tsp very finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • ½ cup semolina
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for topping

In a large bowl, combine the yeast, the sugar and the 1 cup of water. Add the oil and let sit for 10 minutes until foamy.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, rosemary, semolina and 1 tsp salt. Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture, stirring with a large spoon to combine. Then, using clean hands and working in the bowl, mix until the dough comes together. If needed, add another 2 Tbsp warm water and continue mixing dough into a ball.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 4 to 5 minutes.

Drizzle the bowl with ½ tsp oil and return the dough ball to the bowl, turning the dough to coat well with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 24 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat an oven to 425°F. Meanwhile, cut the dough into 8 wedges, then cover with a damp towel and let sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before rolling.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out each wedge into a 5×10-inch rectangle. Brush or drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt to taste. Arrange on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden and crispy not but overbrowned.

Chef's note: For more even baking, rotate the pans in the oven and switch them from upper to lower racks midway through baking.

Tony's wine recommendation:
New World Chardonnay – California, Australia, Chile


Tandoori Chicken with Mango Dip

You love it at the restaurant; now make your own at home as Julia Aitken gives you all the spices and steps! Serve with her Mango Dip and watch the hands come back for more. We also like serving the chicken in chunks over crispy chicory greens!

Makes about 48 pieces

  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger root, chopped
  • 1 small hot pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp ground mace
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground loves
  • 1½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Optional: wooden skewers
    Mango dip
  • ¼ cup mango chutney
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • Lettuce leaves, lemon or lime wedges and coriander sprigs
  1. In a food processor or blender, combine onion, garlic, ginger and hot pepper. Process until finely chopped and well combined. In the baking dish, stir together onion mixture, yogurt, coriander, cumin, cardamom, mace, nutmeg and cloves. Add chicken; toss to coat thoroughly. Refrigerated, covered for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°F. Remove chicken from marinade, shaking off any excess (discard marinade). On baking sheets, arrange chicken pieces in a single layer. Bake, turning once, for 10–12 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and no longer pink inside.
  3. Mango dip: If chutney has any large pieces of mango, mince them finely. In a serving bowl, stir together mango chutney and yogurt until smooth. Discard any dip that's left over after serving.
  4. Arrange chicken on a lettuce-lined platter, or thread onto wooden skewers for serving. Garnish with lemon or lime wedges and coriander sprigs. Serve with mango dip alongside.

Tony's wine recommendation:
A spicy, dry white with some residual sweetness – California or Pays d'Oc Viognier; Alsace Pinot Gris


Poached Pears in Spiced Red Wine

This luscious version is from Julia Aitken!

Oh, pears are abundant now, and few foods are sexier or more luscious. What a perfect ending to a party, especially served up with a slice of gorgonzola or chunks of Parmesan cheese! Or if you're really feeling decadent (and who isn't?), do whipped cream on the side. A true swoon...

Serves 6

  • 1 orange
  • 1 cup water
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 firm ripe pears with stems
  • 2 cups full bodied red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon (or more if needed)
  • Orange zest, cut into thin strips
  1. With a sharp knife, cut two 2-inch strips of zest from orange, avoiding white pith. Squeeze juice from orange into a saucepan just large enough to hold pears standing side by side on their wide wends. Add orange zest, water, sugar and bay leaves; heat stirring occasionally over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
  2. With a melon baler or small teaspoon, remove cores from pears by hollowing them out from their wide ends. Peel pears, leaving stems intact. If necessary, cut a small slice from wide end of each pear so it stands upright.
  3. Stand pears in orange mixture in saucepan; pour in enough wine to cover pears. If they float, place a small saucer directly on top of pears and weigh it down with a small heavy can. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; cook, covered, for 15 to 30 minutes or until pears are tender but not broken up. (The time will vary depending on size and ripeness of pears, so check every 10 minutes.)
  4. With a slotted spoon, remove pears from poaching liquid; drain well, reserving poaching liquid in saucepan. Arrange pears upright in a deep serving dish. Set aside. Over high heat, bring poaching liquid to a boil; boil, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes or until it is reduced to about 1 cup and forms a syrupy sauce. Watch carefully towards end of cooking time to make sure sauce doesn't scorch.
  5. Strain sauce through a sieve into a small pitcher, discarding orange zest and bay leaves. Spoon sauce over pears, let cool completely, basting pears occasionally with sauce as they cool.
  6. To serve, spoon some sauce onto each of 6 dessert plates. Place a pear on each plate, drizzle with remaining sauce. Serve garnished with orange zest.

Note: Poached pears in sauce can be refrigerated, covered for 24 hours; let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Banyuls, Cabernet Franc Icewine


For more information on Laugh Lines, go to

We wish to thank:

Raincoast Books, Vancouver and Chronicle Books, San Francisco for permission to publish material and photographs from Kathy Casey's Northwest Table, by Kathy Casey. Text © 2006 by Kathy Casey. Food photographs © 2006 by E. Jane Armstrong. Photograph of Kathy Casey © 2006 by Mike Hipple.


Robert Rose, Inc. for permission to publish material and photographs from 125 Best Entertaining Recipes by Julia Aitken. Text © 1999, 2007, Julia Aitken. Photographs and illustrations © 1999, 2007 Robert Rose Inc. Tandoori chicken photograph by Colin Ericson.


Happily enjoyed by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (101 KB)




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