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A Tasty New Year (December 30, 2004)

To introduce A Matter of Taste, the beautiful new book by Lucy Waverman and James Chatto, the publisher Harper Collins threw the best and most glamorous, fun and truly delicious party of the year. Your intrepid reporters Sheila Swerling-Puritt and Helen Hatton rose to the occasion, found appropriate cocktail outfits and happily swept through the bash!

Mirroring A Matter of Taste, the myriad food stations at the party featured inspired seasonal menus with wines and spirits to match.

A delicious sampling might have included the Grilled Bombay Lamb with Mint Salsa accompanied by a good, serious Californian red Zinfandel or a Rhône-style blend from California or Australia. Your chance to try, your choice to decide!

Or the substantial French Salade Landaise loaded with chicken livers, bacon, pine nuts and croutons besides the greens that was matched up with a dry Alsatian Gewürztraminer which has, to paraphrase James Chatto, "the textural cojones and exotic aromatics that can engage in dialogue with the smoky flavors and fatty richness of the chicken livers." Oh James... don't stop!

We loved pairing a crisp-skinned Salmon with Citrus Sauce with both a big, buttery Chardonnay and a gorgeous Pinot Noir, and are still debating the winner!

There's all this and much, much more in A Matter of Taste; you'll find complete menus for each season that go from a Summer Gardening Party and Cottage Retreat to an Autumn Dessert Buffet and an Alternative Christmas Dinner.

With style, wit and candor, two of North America's top wine and food experts have combined their talents in this collection that is more than a great cookbook, and we feel that the CBC's Jurgen Gothe – who is also Food and Wine Editor of NUVO Magazine – said it better than we could:

"A Matter of Taste is a dazzling 'Four Seasons' of food and drink, a labor of love, assembled with finicky care for facts but also the artists' eye for sensual pleasures. Waverman and Chatto have nothing but appreciation for their subject. And Passion. It shows."

Jurgen, we completely agree.

They should know; Lucy Waverman is the author of seven cookbooks, a food columnist for The Globe and Mail and the food editor of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario's magazine Food and Drink. She's a Cordon Bleu trained chef, cooking school owner, and is on the board of the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

James Chatto is no slouch either; author of four books about food, he is the restaurant columnist and food writer for Toronto Life Magazine, editor of Harry magazine and senior editor and wine-and-spirits columnist for the LCBO's Food and Drink. He's the long-time host of the popular Toronto Life's wine-and-food-matching evenings in the city's leading restaurants. James, a former British stage actor and Royal Family relative, is an exquisite lyrical writer, and he, like Lucy, lives in Toronto.

Your New Year's Resolution? Owning your own copy of A Matter of Taste.

Happy 2005 everyone, may love and great food abound in your lives! We're celebrating with A Matter of Taste's New Year's Eve Menu, featured below!

"Oh, darling, please pass the oysters..."

Matter of Taste New Year's Eve Menu:

All recipes serve 6.

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (83 KB)


Scallop Ravioli with Blood Orange Sauce

Lucy Waverman said, "We chose the ingredients for our exquisite cover photograph for their beauty and their superb tastes. Then it was my job to come up with a recipe worthy of those ingredients. Grind star anise in a coffee grinder or spice mill; if you can't find it, use ground fennel seeds. These ravioli can be made ahead. Immerse in boiling water for 1 minute to reheat."

Oh, Lucy, what a recipe! Talk about good taste...

  • 8 oz. scallops
  • 4 oz oyster mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped shallots
  • 2 Tbsp chopped Thai basil
  • 2 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp chopped green chilies
  • 1 tsp chopped gingerroot
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • ½ tsp ground star anise
  • 1 egg white
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 40 wonton wrappers or dumpling skins, approx.
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
    Blood Orange Sauce
  • 1 cup red wine
  • ½ cup blood orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, diced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped chives
  • Thai basil sprigs
  • 6 whole star anise

Place scallops, mushrooms, shallots, basil, orange zest, chilies, ginger, garlic and star anise in a food processor and combine. With the machine running, add egg white through feed tube and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. (Cook a small amount of mixture in a skillet to check seasonings.) Lay a wonton wrapper on counter. Brush egg yolk around edges. Place 1 Tbsp scallop mixture in center. Place second skin on top and press together, being sure to eliminate any air pockets. Continue until all ingredients are used.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add ravioli and boil for about 2 minutes or until ravioli float and scallop mixture is cooked through.

Combine wine, orange juice and sugar in a pot. Boil over high heat for 6 to 8 minutes, or until syrupy. Remove from heat and whisk in abutter until emulsified. Stir in chives.

Pour sauce on plates and top with 3 ravioli per person. Garnish with Thai basil and star anise.

And to drink...

James tells us: "Here's one of those fascinating dishes that lies close to the cusp where white wine merges into red. Lining up most of the principal flavors – plump scallops, blood orange juice, star anise – suggest one of the zingier Californian or Chilean Sauvignon Blancs. The best of them sometimes deliver hints of orange and fennel in their smoothly tailored profiles. But Lucy has taken the sauce a step or two further, bringing in red wine, and that pushes our wine choice in the same direction. A red wine is required, but a red from the lightest end of the spectrum that won't overwhelm the scallops with heavy fruit or disrupt their flavour with tannins. Pinot Noir from one of the world's cooler regions fits the bill – from Alsace, perhaps, where a handful of producers are currently making some delicately complex Pintos. If that proves too hard to find (and the limited production does make rarities of these treats), look to Oregon: good Pinot Noir from the Pacific Northwest is full of character and elegance. Pinot from B.C.s Okanagan Valley, Niagara, Tasmania or New Zealand could also work well. A final suggestion might be a Chinon from the Loire – as suave and lightweight an example of the Cabernet Franc grape as one could hope to find. But even that might be too red a red.

The final verdict? An elegant, cool-climate Pinto Noir.


Prosciutto-wrapped Veal Tenderloin

Oh, my... not only is this dish beautiful, it's also a stunning main dish bursting with flavours, sweet veal with salty prosciutto and herbal sage leaves. Lucy reminds us that veal tenderloin comes in different sizes, so you may need two or three for this recipe.

  • 8 to 12 thin slices prosciutto
  • 24 to 36 fresh sage leaves, torn
  • 2½ lbs veal tenderloin
  • 2 tsp cracked peppercorns
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • ¼ cup Marsala
  • 2 cups chicken or veal stock
  • 2 Tbsp butter, diced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Lay 4 slices prosciutto overlapping on a sheet of parchment paper. Scatter prosciutto with sage leaves (amount will depend on how many tenderloins you use). Place tenderloin across prosciutto slices at one end and season with cracked pepper and lemon zest. Using paper as a guide, roll prosciutto and sage leaves around tenderloin. Tie in three places with string. Repeat with remaining tenderloin.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until beginning to turn golden. Remove garlic from skillet.

Add tenderloins to a skillet in batches. Cook for about 1 minute per side to crisp prosciutto. Transfer to a roasting pan. Scatter garlic over veal.

Roast veal for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tenderloins are just pink. Remove to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes.

Add Marsala to skillet while veal is resting. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil until Marsala has reduced to 1 Tbsp. Add stock and boil for 5 minutes, or until beginning to thicken – mixture should lightly coat back of a spoon. Reduce heat to low and whisk in butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice tenderloins and serve with sauce.


Ricotta and Olive Mashed Potatoes

These mashed potatoes go perfectly with the veal. Use Kalamata olives if you can find them. We adore potatoes of any kind, and this variation will quickly find its way into your top ten as it did for us.

  • 2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved
  • ½ cup hot milk
  • ¾ cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup black olives, pitted and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Place potatoes in a pot of cold salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and boil for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender.

Drain potatoes well, return to pot and shake pot over turned-off burner to dry potatoes.

Mash potatoes with a potato masher, potato ricer or food mill. Beat in milk and ricotta with a wooden spoon. Fold in olives. Season with salt and pepper.

And to drink...

James Chatto says, "Lucy loves to serve burgundy with this delectably upgraded version of saltimbocca, and there's no doubt that it works beautifully. Following a lighter Pinot with a mature Côte de Beaune carries its own satisfying logic and offers interesting opportunities for comparison. But many other middle weight reds will also perform well with this course. The veal itself is almost irrelevant in the decision, politely retreating behind the stronger flavours on the plate. The herby personality of a good quality wine from Provence's Côtes du Ventoux or Côtes du Lubéron will pick up the sage as well as the olives in the mashed potatoes. A well made Valpolicella Classico Superiore comes a the dish from another direction, it's cheery – like fruit reaching for the sweetness in the prosciutto and canoodling with the roasted tomatoes. A cru Beaujolais or one of Ontario's top-flight Gamay Noirs will behave in a similar way."

James goes on to say: "It's almost easier to list the reds that won't show their best, either because they threaten to overwhelm the delicate taste of the veal with an inky whack of fruit or because they have too much tannin that might be embittered by the salt in the prosciutto. Lucy is still recommending her Burgundy, pointing out that the wine need not always defer to the dish and that a gorgeous mature Côte de Beaune brings its own treasure trove of aromas and attributes to the table."


Coffee Pots de Crème

These delicate custards can be made in oven-proof espresso cups, topped with whipped cream and shaved chocolate or a solitary coffee bean. They should really be served with freshly fried beignets, but that is too much to do at the last minute, so buy some doughnuts and heat them in the oven if you feel the need. Ramekin sizes vary – this recipe will fill six large ramekins or eight small ones.

  • 1½ cups milk
  • 1 cups whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp ground coffee (not instant)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Combine milk, cream and coffee in a small pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Cool slightly.

Whisk egg yolks with sugar and cream mixture. Strain through a coffee filter into a large measuring cup to remove coffee granules.

Place ramekins in a large pan. Pour strained custard into remekins, filling them three-quarters full. Pour hot water into pan until it reaches halfway upsides of ramekins.

Place a sheet of parchment paper over the ramekins. Transfer pan to oven and bake for 35 to 50 minutes, depending on ramekin size or until custards have just a slight wobble in center.

Remove ramekins from water and cool.

We wish to thank Harper Collins, Publishers Ltd. for permission to publish material and photographs from A Matter of Taste, © 2004 by Lucy Waverman and James Chatto. All rights reserved.

Jacket photographs by Rob Fiocca. Author photograph by Evan Dion.


Happily tested by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (83 KB)




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