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A Holiday Tour (December 14, 2007)

We've gone on a grand tour for the holidays: recipes and dishes from some of our favourite places around the globe, and all from glorious cookbooks that you'll want to have! Each has its own flavour and personality, and each is an exciting trip on its own!

We've started in Alberta with the latest ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen cookbook, and this year's Holiday Collection is the best one yet! Sensibly organized into such categories as Great Beginnings, Morning Food, In the Christmas Tradition and The Day After, to name a few, this well-tested spiral-bound book gives you a glossary, tips and cook's notes plus a comprehensive recipe key (a.k.a. "Tips for Success") as well as 100+ sensational recipe and food ideas that all work beautifully, thanks to the home economists who author the book! Order yours at!

Then off we go: World Food Café Easy Vegetarian Recipes from Around the Globe intrigued us from the start. Chris and Carolyn Caldicott, who run London's World Food Café, take every opportunity to travel the world in search of new vegetarian recipes. Their latest trip yielded a bountiful crop, from Southeast Asia to the islands of the Caribbean, North Africa to South America. The flavours are exquisite, the photographs a five-star travelogue. Can't get to the Seychelles or India this year? Go via World Food Café!

We should eat more complex carbs and grains, but how? The New Whole Grains Cookbook and author Robin Asbell have told us in dozens of great international recipes using every nubbin from farro, quinoa and brown rice to amaranth, barley and buckwheat! You won't need your feedbag... the book features foods like dumplings, quick breads, salads, mains and desserts. Healthy was never so easy and so international.

No matter how far-reaching and exotic our own menus have become, we still return to the French for many dishes. The perfect tour guide for this fascinating journey into the heart of French culture and cuisine is the doyenne of French cooking, Anne Willan, who has just produced her most beautiful cookbook yet, The Country Cooking of France. This so-called rustic cuisine is so compelling, and it evokes such fascination and respect... for good reason: the terroir of the regions and the fresh produce and speciality foods that are unique to each area are transformed into such traditional favourites as Soupe au Pistou and Choucroute Alsacienne! Willan, an award-winning cooking teacher, food writer and author of more than 30 cookbooks, has been honoured as a Grande Dame of Les Dames d'Escoffier International and given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Bon Appétit magazine named Willan "Cooking Teacher of the Year"! Get this instantly classic volume for your shelves!

We love every recipe in Trattoria Grappolo: Simple Recipes for Traditional Italian Cuisine; the book captures what is surely the best in authentic Italian cooking, yet with readily available ingredients. Authors are Calabrian Leonardo Curti, executive chef and co-proprietor at the eponymous Trattoria Grappolo bistro in Santa Ynez, California, and James O. Fraioli, a food enthusiast and world traveler as well as a professional writer, photographer and filmmaker by trade. The talents of these two are monumental, and the resulting cookbook is one that you'll go back to again and again! We'll be featuring a lot of their recipes in the coming year…if we can only narrow them down!

Happy Holidays!

On today's menu:

Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (109 KB)


Zesty Ginger Cashews

From the talented Home Economists in the ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen comes this "gotta have it" recipe that is so perfect with an apéritif before the big meal, or with drinks at your holiday cocktail party. Also makes a delightful small gift for everyone... if you can get any out of your own kitchen!

Makes 2 cups

  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) sugar
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) hot water
  • 1Tbsp (15 mL) grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) soy sauce
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) grated lime peel
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) garlic powder
  • 2 cups (500 mL) salted roasted cashews
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) golden granulated sugar crystals

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick foil. Combine first 7 ingredients (sugar through garlic powder) in a bowl, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add cashews and stir to coat with sugar mixture. Add sugar crystals and sir gently to coat cashews. Spread cashew mixture in a single layer in prepared pan. Bake at 325°F (160°C), stirring twice, for 20 minutes or until cashews are richly glazed; cool. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.

Tony's wine recommendation:
A sweetish white wine – Asti Spumante or Late Harvest Riesling


Fennel and Orange Salad with Orange Flower Water Dressing

A perfect start to the rich meal to follow, this Moroccan-inspired salad will refresh the palate and intrigue your taste buds. You'll find many uses for the orange flower water beyond this recipe! From World Food Café Easy Vegetarian Recipes from Around the Globe.

Serves 6

  • 3 lettuces, broken into separate leaves and washed
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, very finely sliced
  • 2 large oranges, finely sliced
  • 2 carrots grated
  • Large handful of fine chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnishing
    For the dressing:
  • Juice of ½ a small orange
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tsp orange flower water (available at specialty grocers)
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

Layer the lettuce, fennel, orange and grated carrot on a large plate. Combine the dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing over the salad and garnish with the chopped parsley. Chill in the fridge until really cold before serving.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Sauvignon Blanc – either Pouilly-Fumé from the Loire or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc


L'Oie Rôtie de Noël
Roast Goose with Apples and Vegetables

So French, so perfect. This has become our favourite goose recipe in the world, the one that says Christmas! It also says "Yes, please, another serving!" In her Country Cooking of France, Anne Willan says, "Roast Goose is a reason to celebrate, and here is a splendid Alsatian recipe in which the bird is basted with beer so the skin darkens and the gravy toasts to a deep caramel. Whole apples cooked in the cavity add unexpected flavour and emerge tasty and hot, ready to serve with the accompanying rutabagas and Brussels sprouts.... Look for a goose with creamy white skin and plump breast meat that almost conceals the breastbone. Even then, a bird weighing ten pounds (4.5kg) serves only six people. In compensation, a goose renders quantities of superb fat for frying potatoes."

Oh, yes! And to paraphrase Charles Dickens, "...there ever was such a goose." Thanks, Charles, here it is!

  • One 9 to 10 pound/4.5 kg goose
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 tart apples (about 2 pounds/900 g total)
  • 1 cup/250 mL dark beer
  • 1½ pounds/ 675 g rutabagas, cut into ¾ inch/2 cm chunks
  • 1½ pounds/675 g Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved if large
  • 2 Tbsp/30 g butter
  • 1 cup/250 mL medium dry white wine
  • 2 lcups/500 mL chicken broth
  • Large roasting pan

Heat the oven to 450°F/230°C. Wipe the goose inside and out with paper towels and season it inside and out with salt and pepper. Peel and core the apples, leaving them whole. Put them inside the bird and truss it. Put the goose on a rack in the roasting pan and pour over the beer, rubbing it well into the skin.

Roast the goose it until it starts to brown, about 40 minutes. Prick the skin to release the fat underneath it, then turn the bird breast down and baste it. Lower the heat to 350°F/180°C and continue roasting, basting often, for 1 hour. Generous amounts of fat will accumulate in the bottom of the pan, so drain and reserve it. Finally, turn the goose once more, breast up. Continue roasting and basting until the bird is very brown, the meat pulls away from the drumstick and the juices run clear when you prick the thigh with a skewer, 1 to 1¼ hours longer. A thermometer inserted in the thigh away from bone should register 165°F/74°C. If the skin starts to brown too much during cooking, cover the goose loosely with aluminum foil.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetable garnish. Put the rutabagas in a saucepan with cold salted water to cover, bring to a boil, cover and simmer until tender but still firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. Put the Brussels sprouts in a saucepan with cold salted water to cover, bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, just until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.

When the goose is cooked, remove it from the oven. Turn the oven heat back up to 450°F/230°C. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set the bird, breast side up, on the foil, setting the roasting pan aside. Rub the goose with the butter and return it to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to crisp the skin. Transfer the goose to a large platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Set it aside while heating the vegetables and making the gravy.

To heat the vegetables, heat about 4 Tbsp/60 g of the reserved goose fat in a large frying pan. Add the vegetables with salt and pepper and sauté briskly until lightly browned. Spoon them around the goose and continue keeping it warm.

For the gravy, pour off all but 2 Tbsp fat from the roasting pan (keep the fat for another use). Add the wine to the pan; bring to a boil on the stove top, and simmer, stirring constantly to dissolve the pan juices, until reduced by at least half. Add the broth and simmer the gravy until well flavoured and concentrated, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste it, adjust the seasoning and strain into a bowl.

Carve the bird at the table, spooning the apples from inside like stuffing. Pass the gravy at the table.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Pinot Noir – a fine red Burgundy or Oregon or New Zealand Pinot Noir; or Moulin-a-Vent or Morgon from Beaujolais (at room temperature)


Pecan- and Wild Rice-Stuffed Squash

No, it's not too much to serve this classic side dish. These tiny, one-serving squashes are good containers for savoury flavours and while the wild rice is more traditional, buckwheat and quinoa would also be delicious. Pecans perfectly match up and enhance the nutty taste of the rice; you'll also want to have this as a supper dish on a cold Sunday night! This recipe from the New Whole Grains Cookbook is so easy to put together and will go perfectly with the goose.

  • 3 small Sweet Dumpling squash, or acorn squash 6 inches or less in diameter
  • ¾ cup wild rice
  • 2¼ cups water
  • 5 tsp fresh sage
  • ¾ cup fresh parsley
  • 4½ tsp olive oil
  • 3 stalks celery, minced
  • ¾ large onion, chopped (1½ cups)
  • 1½ tsp dried marjoram
  • 1½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • Generous pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 heaping cup pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Oil 2 baking sheets. Cut each squash in half from the stem to the tip. Scoop out the seeds and place cut side down on the baking sheets. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until easily pierced with a paring knife. Let cool. Reduce the oven heat to 375°F.

In a medium saucepan, cook the wild rice in the water, simmering until it is tender and starting to split. If there is any excess water, drain the rice in a strainer. Finely chop the sage and parsley. In a small sauté pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the celery, onion, and sage over the medium heat until just softened. Stir in the parsley, marjoram, pepper, nutmeg, and salt and take the pan off the heat.

When the squash halves are cool, use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, leaving a bit behind to keep the skins from tearing. In a large bowl, mash the flesh coarsely and reserve. Select 16 intact pecan halves for the garnish, then use a food processor to grind the remaining pecans to powder. Add the ground pecans, the sautéed mixture, and the wild rice to the squash in the bowl and mix thoroughly. Stuff the mixture into the squash shells and top with the reserved pecan halves. Place in a casserole or baking dish large enough to hold all of the squash halves. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the tops feel firm to the touch.


Pere alla Finanziera
Almond Cream Pear Tart with Apricot Glaze and Crème Chantilly

Beyond decadent. Just when you think you couldn't possibly eat another crumb, out comes this heavenly pear tart. It's easy to make, and the results are the perfect finish to a gorgeous holiday meal! Oh, Ron... Pass the Crème Chantilly, please! Thank you Chef Curti! From Trattoria Grappolo: Simple Recipes for Traditional Italian Cuisine.

Serves 8

  • 14 ounces almond paste
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Zest from 1/3 of a lemon
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 canned pears, cut in half lengthwise
  • Powdered sugar
  • Crème Chantilly
  • Strawberries for garnish
    Apricot Glaze
  • ½ cup apricot jam
  • 1 Tbsp water

Using a food processor, pulse almond paste, sugar and zest. Transfer to a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment. Slowly add butter a little at a time; stop and scrape down sides. Turn machine on again and add eggs, one at a time, and then add almond extract and flour.

Spray eight 4-ounce aluminum tin cups with nonstick spray and fill cups evenly. Pour in and smooth batter and place a slice of pear on top. Bake at 325°F for 45 minutes, or until medium golden-brown. After cakes have cooled, glaze the tops with the apricot Glaze. Dust with powdered sugar, fresh Crème Chantilly and a strawberry. Serve warm.

To make the glaze, melt the apricot jam and water in a small saucepan. Pour through a strainer and brush evenly over cooked tarts.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Ontario Vidal or Riesling Icewine; Rheingau Riesling Auslese.

We wish to thank:

The ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen, Edmonton, Alberta for permission to publish photographs and recipes from the 2007 Holiday Collection. For more recipe ideas and to order your copy of the 2007 ATCO Holiday Collection, go to

Raincoast Publishing, Vancouver, and Chronicle Books, San Francisco, for permission to publish photographs and recipes from The New Whole Grains Cookbook. Text © Robin Asbell; photographs © Caren Alpert.

Raincoast Publishing, Vancouver, and Chronicle Books, San Francisco, for permission to publish photographs and recipes from The Country Cooking of France. Text © 2007 by Anne Willan, Inc. Photographs © 2007 by France Ruffenach.

Raincoast Publishing, Vancouver, and Frances Lincoln Ltd., London, for permission to publish photographs and recipes from World Food Café Easy Vegetarian Recipes from Around the Globe. © Frances Lincoln, Ltd. 2006. Text and photographs © Chris and Carolyn Caldicott 2006.

Raincoast Publishing, Vancouver, and Gibbs Smith, Layton, Utah, for permission to publish photographs and recipes from Trattoria Grappolo: Simple Recipes for Traditional Italian Cuisine. Text © 2007 James O. Fraioli and Executive Chef Leonardo Curti. Food Photography © 2007 Luca Trovato. Restaurant Photography © 2007 Brian Hodges. Food Styling © 2007 Rori Trovato.

Happily enjoyed by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (109 KB)




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