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Spice Up Your Kitchen (May 22, 2003)


You realize one day that you're always picking up the same cookbook first... the one that has just the recipe or dish you're looking for, the one that matches your taste buds and understands your busy lifestyle, and you're referring to the author on a first name basis.

Ron's favourite is Julia – she taught him to cook and he's been faithful ever since. A close second for both of us is The Gold and Fizdale Cookbook, published in 1984 by Random House. Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale were internationally known duo pianists, authors and popular contributors to The New Yorker and were the long-time food writers for Vogue magazine. Their eponymous book is dedicated to their good friend George Balanchine, "In whose kitchen we spent many happy hours..."

Gold and Fizdale knew everyone worth knowing, and could cook accordingly. Long out of print, this stylish collection contains more than 300 brilliant versions of dishes drawn from the cuisines of the world. Stories accompany the delightful recipes – it's a great read as well as a great cookbook! Look for it in good used bookstores! We only wish that Gold and Fizdale were still with us!

Happily, though, More than Salt and Pepper came into our kitchen a little while ago, and we find we're enjoying it thoroughly. Cordon Bleu graduate Caren McSherry opened her cooking school on East Georgia Street in Vancouver in 1978 with a handful of students and has never looked back. She's taught and worked with thousands of students and the world's best cooks, and out of all this has come her book, which she describes as "25 years of spicing up the kitchen." More than Salt and Pepper is full of excellent, readable information on just that... with pages from balsamic vinegar to chilies to preserved lemons to truffles, vanilla and, of course, salts and peppers. All that before the fabulous recipes, too!

You will find yourself cruising More than Salt and Pepper first, and we guarantee that you will find a recipe or two to fix for supper tonight... or the upcoming dinner party, or picnic, or simply lunch in a bag. You'll want a copy of Caren's book, which, happily, is still available.

On today's menu:

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (85 KB)


Sesame Crusted Tuna with Wasabi Sauce

Caren McSherry says about this recipe: "When something tastes this good, it's usually extremely difficult to believe that it's actually simple and quick. I often say, 'If you can read, you can cook!' This recipe exemplifies my statement perfectly."

Read on, we say, and eat!

Serves 6

    Wasabi Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp wasabi mustard (45 mL)
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce (45 mL)
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter (45 mL)
  • 2/3 cup black sesame seeds (160 mL)
  • 2½ lbs fresh ahi tuna steaks (1.2 kg)
  • 2–3 Tbsp grapeseed or peanut oil (30–45 mL)
    Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • 3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled (1.35 kg)
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter (45 mL)
  • ½ cup light cream (120 mL)
  • 2 heads roasted garlic
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper (2.5 mL)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (5 mL)

Wasabi Sauce
In a small pot combine the wasabi mustard, soy sauce and butter and simmer until the butter melts. Whisk the mixture until it is smooth and thick. Set aside.

'Place the sesame seeds in a shallow dish. Dip both sides of the tuna into the seeds and press so that the seeds adhere to the tuna. Heat a nonstick fry pan to medium high and add the oil. Sear the fish for about 2 minutes on each side, longer if you r preference is not rare.

To serve, scoop a portion of the potatoes on the side of the plate. Lean the piece of tuna against the mound of potato and puddle the sauce beside or drizzle it over, whichever you prefer. The taste is a knockout. Mixed vegetables are a perfect side garnish.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Boil the potatoes until tender. Rice or whip the potatoes. Add the butter e and cream and mix. Squeeze the cooked garlic pulp into the potatoes and finish with the pepper and kosher salt.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
Depending on your predilection, you can go light to medium-bodied red or white with this dish. The tang of wasabi mustard suggests a wine with a touch of residual sweetness and good acidity – (white) Riesling of Kabinett quality or off-dry, Alsace Pinot Gris; (red) Oregon Pinot Noir, named village Beaujolais (Moulin-a-Vent, Fleurie, etc.).


Prosciutto-Wrapped Prawns with Basil Dipping Sauce

McSherry first prepared this dish as a guest chef of Crystal Cruises, and assumed that only 1/3 of the diners would choose the Guest Chef menu; surprise surprise, during the first sitting, guests were requesting seconds and thirds of this dish, and the kitchen was completely wiped out by the second sitting.

We've served this tasty appetizer to friends, and trust us... the same thing happens, slightly guilty yet pleading faces gently inquiring about perhaps "another one of those fabulous prawns, please?"

Triple the recipe! It's worth it.

Makes 18 pieces (oh, and what are you having?)

  • 2 large shallots, roasted
  • 2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves (480 mL)
  • 2–3 peeled garlic cloves
  • 3 Tbsp pine nuts (45 mL)
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar (10 mL)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (120 mL)
  • To taste: sea salt
  • To taste: tellicherry pepper or black pepper
  • 18 large prawns, head off, tail on
  • 9 thin slices of proscuitto, preferably Italian

To roast the shallots, peel and rub lightly with olive oil. Place them in a garlic roaster or wrap in foil and bake at 325°F (165°C) for about 40 minutes or until they are soft and golden in colour.

Place the roasted shallots, basil, garlic, pine nuts and vinegar in a blender or Cuisinart and purée until the mixture is smooth, scraping slowly down the sides of the bowl once or twice. With the motor running slowly, pour in the olive oil. The sauce will thicken slightly. Season with the sea salt and the tellicherrry pepper.

Dry prawns thoroughly. Cut the proscuitto in half lengthwise and wrap one piece around the body of each prawn. Rub the wrapped prawn with a scant amount of olive oil. Heat a barbecue or grill to high. Cook the prawns until they are bright pink, turning only once. This should take about 3 to 4 minutes. Serve hot off the grill with the basil. Sauce.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
A full-bodied white wine with good acidity – Sonoma Chardonnay, Gavi (Piedmont), Anselmi or Inama Soave (Veneto), Ontario barrel-fermented Chardonnay.


Home Fries

Caren McSherry comments, "These are simply the tastiest fries you will ever eat. The come without guilt as they are not deep-fried, but instead are oven-fried in a minimal amount of oil. I always plan on at least 1 large potato per person and then thrown in 2 more for the potato lovers at the table. I like to serve them with Garlic Aioli. Brace yourself, these are truly as good as it gets!"

Serves 4

  • 6 large russet potatoes, skin on
  • 2–3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (30–40 mL)
  • To taste: sea salt
  • To taste: freshly ground pepper

Scrub the potatoes well and cut them into french fry sticks. Do not make them too big, as this increases cooking time. A good size is ¼ inch (.5 cm) by the length of the potato.

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Place the potato sticks on a cookie sheet, drizzle the oil over and toss with your hands to coat evenly with oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Make sure that they are not piled on top of each other while baking–they like to bask in their own space so that they become golden brown on all sides.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the friends are golden brown. You will have to turn them once during cooking. If you find them sticking a bit, add a little more oil.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
If Home Fries are a meal by themselves (as they can be for me), serve a Sauvignon Blanc from California or Chile or Ontario Chardonnay.


We wish to thank Whitecap Books for permission to publish recipes and photographs from More than Salt and Pepper, ©2002 by Caren McSherry. Food Photography: Ryan Sullivan, Purdy and Co., London, England.

We also wish to thank Random House New York for permission to mention one of our most favourite cookbooks, The Gold and Fizdale Cookbook, ©1984 by Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale.


Happily tested by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (85 KB)




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