Vegetarian Cheese and Nut Loaf

This recipe makes a great substitute for a meat loaf if you are vegetarian, vegan, on a KETO diet or just feel like something different.

Vegetarian Cheese and Nut Loaf

This vegetarian cheese and nut loaf (or pâté) is a great substitute for when a regular meat loaf is out of the question. It’s easy to make, tastes great and get’s you all kinds of healthy nutrients. It has the veggies, fibre, Omega-3, protein and plenty of flavour.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Vegetarian
Servings 6
Calories 385 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) olive oil
  • 250 ml (1 cup) cooked brown rice
  • 125 ml (1/2) cup wheat germ
  • 125 ml (1/2) cup chopped walnuts or cashews
  • 125 ml (1/2) cup thinly sliced mushrooms preferably Cremini
  • 125 ml (1/2) cup shredded carrots
  • 1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt
  • 1 ml (1/4 tsp) pepper
  • 225 g (1/2 lb) Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs beaten

Instructions
 

  • Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil
  • In a large bowl, combine sautéd onion and garlic with rice, wheatgerm, nuts, mushrooms, carrots, salt, pepper and 1/2 of the grated cheese
  • Mix well, add eggs and mix again
  • Transfer to a well greased loaf pan
  • Bake in a pre-heated 175 °C (350 °F) oven for 50 minutes
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese after 30 minutes
  • Optionally, broil for a few minutes to finish
  • Serve with a salad, gravy or mayo, and a glass of white wine. All optional of course.
Keyword gratin, loaf, vegan, vegetarian
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Classy Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington is one of those dishes that is hard to beat as a classy dinner such as Christmas, New Years, Anniversaries or other special occasions. It’s got the wow factor. It looks great, tastes great and is loved by all. It may be expensive because we are using one of the most expensive cuts of beef and it may not be the easiest to make but when the occasion calls for it, it’s all worth it. So let’s get to it. A few things to note. You may need to order the meat ahead from your butcher. If you can’t find ready made cooked walnuts, skip them or substitute with cashews or pine nuts. If anyone in the dinner party is allergic to nuts, skip them altogether or substitute with shallots. For the mushroom Duxelles, I use cremini. You also can use portobello mushrooms or then white button mushrooms if you prefer a more subtle taste.

Classy Beef Wellington

Bruno
Classic Beef Wellington Recipe
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine British, International
Servings 6
Calories 365 kcal

Ingredients
  

Duxelles:

  • 450 g (1 lb) cremini mushrooms
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) cooked chestnuts
  • 2-4 garlic cloves peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves only

Beef:

  • 900 g (2 lb) piece beef tenderloin fillet, centre cut, trimmed
  • Salt coarse, kosher, sea
  • Pepper fresh, ground
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 8-12 slices of prosciutto
  • 500 g (1 lb) puff pastry, all butter, ready made
  • flour to dust
  • 2 egg yolks lightly beaten with 1tbsp water (egg wash)

Instructions
 

  • If tenderloin is tied, leave tied. If not, tie with butcher string in 4 places to hold its shape while searing.
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Heat olive oil in large frying pan to high heat, add fillet and quickly sear on all sides including ends until evenly browned. Transfer to a plate and while still hot, brush with Dijon mustard all over, then set aside to rest.
  • To make the Duxelles, put the washed and trimmed mushrooms in a food processor. Add chestnuts, garlic and a bit of salt and pepper. Pulse processor until you obtain a finely chopped mixture.
  • Heat up a large dry frying pan and add the mushrooms. Add the thyme leaves and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, driving off the moisture until most of it has evaporated. Spread out on a tray to cool off.
  • On a clean surface, roll out a good 50 cm (18 in.) of cling wrap. Place prosciutto on wrap, overlapping each piece in such a way as to form a rectangle that will completely wrap the fillet with the Duxelles and the prosciutto. As an example, a fillet of 8 cm in diameter and of 16 cm in length would need a rectangle of about 20 cm wide by 25 cm long. Don’t skimp here. Make good overlaps in both axis and give a couple of extra cm in both directions and ensure there are no gaps. 2 rows of 4 pieces is usually perfect for a fillet this size.
  • Season the prosciutto with fresh ground pepper, then spread the Duxelles evenly on top leaving a gap of about 2 – 2.5 cm along the edges.
  • Place the fillet in the middle of the rectangle.
  • Grab the cling wrap at the edge in front and slowly start to pull up and wrap it and the prosciutto layer over top of the fillet and keep rolling until you have a nice tight barrel shape making sure no cling wrap gets trapped between the fillet and the prosciutto. Grab the ends of the cling wrap and twist them really tight and secure. Place in refrigerator for 20 min. to let it set up.
  • Now roll out the pastry dough on a lightly flour dusted surface. Again, make a rectangle large enough to wrap the beef and keeping it about 5 mm thick. Brush lightly with egg wash, unwrap the fillet and place it in the middle of the rectangle. Use your judgement to trim off any extra dough but making sure you have enough. Wrap the pastry around the beef, overlapping the edge along the length of the fillet and pressing to seal. Pinch the dough at the ends to seal and trim as necessary.
  • Wrap the log tightly in cling wrap, again twisting the end to make a firm log and refrigerate for 10 min. (overnight if making ahead.
  • Preheat the oven to 190°C (180 convection). Remove the cling wrap from the filet and brush with egg wash. With the back of a small knife, score the pastry lightly in a decorative pattern if you wish (see the image above for an example) and place it on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt, the bake for about 40 min. If the pastry is browning up to quickly, reduce the temperature 5 or 10°C. You should end up with the meat at medium rare. If you or your guests like the meat well done, cook longer.
  • When done, rest the Wellington for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
  • Cut into thick slices (4 – 5 cm) and serve with your sides of choice.
Keyword beef, mushrooms, pastry dough
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Dried Cherry, Hazelnut and Pecan Biscotti

Dried Cherry, Hazelnut and Pecan Biscotti

Bruno
The flavour sensations of dried cherries, lightly toasted hazelnuts and pecans and with the added zing of lemon zest, make this biscotti an all-time and perennial favourite. Visually appealing with the dried cherries looking like glistening rubies, serve them with your choice of coffee, or just eat them by themselves. Note that while ordinary lemons will do the job, use Meyer Lemons for that special extra if you can find them. You can also just use only hazelnuts or filberts in this recipe, substituting equal quantities for the pecans.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Course Baked Goods
Cuisine International, Italian
Servings 48 Biscotti

Ingredients
  

  • 1000 ml (4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) baking powder
  • 2 ml (½ tsp) salt
  • 125 ml (½ cup) of hazelnuts cut in half, lightly toasted
  • 125 ml (½ cup) pecans coarsly chopped, lightly toasted
  • 250 ml (1 cup) dried cherries
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 eggs large
  • 225 ml (1⅓ cups) sugar granulated
  • 125 ml (½ cup) canola oil
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F)
  • Prepare large baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Take a large bowl and combine flower, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, hazelnuts and pecans
  • In a medium bowl and using a hand mixer, beat eggs until fluffy and lightly coloured. Now slowly add the sugar, followed by the oil, lemon juice and vanilla.
  • Make a cavity in the flower mix and pour in the liquid
  • Fold in the flower and mix until liquid is mostly absorbed, then add the cherries and stir until well combined
  • Moisten hands and divide dough in half
  • Pick up first half and on a clean surface quickly form into a log about 30 cm long
  • Place log on parchment paper lined baking sheet and shape into a flattened loaf about 10 cm (4 in.) wide by 35 cm (14 in.) long, moistening hands as necessary.
  • Repeat with second half of dough, keeping loafs about 5 cm (2 in.) appart
  • Bake for 35 – 40 min. or until the loafs start start to show cracks and tops take on a golden colour
  • Remove from stove and let cool until loafs are safe to handle
  • Using a bread knife, cut loafs at an angle into slices about 15 – 20 mm (1/2 – 3/4 in) thick wiping knife with a damp cloth if it becomes sticky
  • Put slices back on the baking sheet, standing them up and spacing them about 5 mm (1/4 in) apart
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C (300°F) and bake biscotti for an additional 30 -35 minutes until dry to touch
  • Remove from stove, cool completely and enjoy. Store airtight in a dry place.
Keyword biscotti, dried cherries, hazelnuts
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Lemon, Vanilla and Almond Biscotti

Lemon, Vanilla and Almond Biscotti

Zen Chef
This biscotti recipe is probably the most basic one found on my ZenGourmand site. One of the perennial favourites, it is however super delish on its crunchy own or as a dipper with your coffee or tea.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Cooling between bakes 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Baked Goods
Cuisine International, Italian
Servings 36 Biscotti

Ingredients
  

Dough

  • 90 ml Butter softened
  • 150 ml Sugar granulated
  • 150 ml Sugar brown
  • 10 ml Vanilla extract
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 Eggs large
  • 700 ml Flour all-purpose
  • 15 ml Baking powder
  • 5 ml Salt
  • 150 ml Almonds sliced

Icing

  • 150 ml Icing sugar
  • 10 ml Lemon Juice
  • 20 ml Water

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper

Dough

  • In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugars, vanilla, lemon zest and juice to a soft an creamy consistency
  • Add eggs, one at a time, while continuing to mix at medium speed
  • Add flour, baking powder and salt
  • Mix using a wooden spoon until smooth
  • Fold in the almonds using your hands (dough will be sticky)

Bake

  • Moisten your hands slightly and scoop up half the dough
  • Form dough into a roll about 30 cm long and place on one long side of the baking sheet
  • Moisten hands as necessary and form the roll into a log about 33 cm long and 12 cm wide, flattening it down a bit on the process to get a nice biscotti profile
  • Repeat with the other half of the dough placing it on the other side of the baking sheet leaving a gap of about 5 cm between the two
  • Bake for 25 minutes or to a stage where the dough develops some crack and appears firm when gently pressed on
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes
  • Reduce oven temperature to 150°C
  • Place loaf on a cutting board and, using a bread knife, cut crosswise into slices of about 10 to 15 mm cutting at a slight angle
  • Remove parchment paper from baking sheet and carefully place slices standing up on baking sheet maintaining a gap of 5 – 10 mm
  • Bake for an additional 20 – 25 minutes or until biscotti feel dry when touched on the sides
  • Cool completely and move slices back together

Icing

  • Combine icing sugar, water and lemon juice stirring until you get a thick creamy texture*
  • Drizzle the icing over the biscotti forming several lines along the length of the loafs
  • Let icing harden overnight before storing in a tight container

Notes

* Add more sugar if the glaze is too thin. It should just barely be able to flow slowly from a spoon dipped in the icing
Keyword almonds, lemon, vanilla
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Lamb Shanks Braised In Red Wine And Juniper

Slowly braised lamb shanks, particularly as in this recipe, are among my favorite cool weather foods. This recipe has incredible depth of flavour. A key ingredient are the dried juniper berries.These may be hard to find but worth the effort. I used to collect juniper berries at the same time I was collecting blue berries on many a canoeing trip in the Kawartha’s of Ontario (Google it).I would occasionally also buy them at a Pharmacy in Switzerland where they are commonly sold for medicinal purposes or in one of the super markets as of course they are also used in many wild game recipes.

Lamb Shanks Braised In Red Wine And Juniper

Zen Chef
Slowly braised lamb shanks that leverage the flavours of rosemary, juniper and red wine.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Canadian
Servings 4
Calories 450 kcal

Equipment

  • Duch Oven (see bottom of post)

Ingredients
  

  • 4 lamb shanks
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 stalk celery chopped
  • 1 bottle of red wine e.g Rhone, Grenache
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) juniper berries
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) black pepper corns
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 garlic bulb sliced in half radially
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) salt
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) port ruby

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 160 °C (325 °F)
  • Liberally season the shanks with salt and pepper
  • In a large, heavy bottom roasting or frying pan, heat oil on medium high and brown the shanks on all sides.
  • Put aside the shanks on a plate in a warming drawer
  • Transfer oil and juices from pan to a large dutch oven, adding more oil if needed
  • Add onions and cook until translucent
  • Add carrots and celery and cook for a couple more minutes
  • Add wine, bay leaves, juniper berries, pepper corns, rosemary, garlic and salt
  • Place the shanks into this braising mixture, cover and cook in the pre-heated oven for 3 hours
  • When cooked, gently remove shanks to a platter, tent with aluminum foil and keep warm in a warming drawer
  • Strain the braising liquid into a sauce pan
  • Bring to a boil and add the port
  • Reduce to 250 ml (1 cup)
  • Serve along side, pour over shanks or use as garlic mashed potato gravy
Keyword braised, fall, juniper berries, lamb, lamb shanks, winter
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Pear Crostata

This tart appeals to me because of its fee form and organic shape. It has the look of freedom and spontaneity. It looks artistic and has a certain wow factor.

Pear Crostata

Zen Chef
A Crostata is an Italian baked tart or pie. More specifically, it is a rustic, free-form version of an open fruit tart. It can be made with a variety of fruits. Here we use bosc pears, one of my favourite pears.
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Canadian, Italian
Servings 8
Calories 424 kcal

Ingredients
  

Pastry

  • 425 ml (1 3/4 cups) All purpose flour
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) sugar
  • 2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 150 g (6 oz) butter room temperature, cut in small pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) water, cold

Filling

  • 6 pears bosc, ripe, peeled and cored
  • 25 ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) sugar, granulated
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) butter

Glaze

  • 1 egg white slightly beaten
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) sugar, Turbinado

Instructions
 

  • Place flour, sugar and salt into a food processor and add the butter pieces
  • Pulse on and off until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
  • Mix egg yolk and water and with food processor running, add to the mixture
  • Turn off after a few seconds and turn mixture out onto a floured board
  • Gently knead dough into a ball, flatten into a half dome and refrigerate for 1 hour
  • Preheat oven to 200 °C (400 °F)
  • Slice pears into 8 sections, place into a baking dish, sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar and dot with butter
  • Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until crispy tender
  • Let cool off
  • Remove dough from fridge and roll out on a floured surface to a circle of about 33 cm (13 in)
  • Carefully transfer onto the back of a floured baking sheet
  • Using a fork, pick up pear slices and arrange on the pastry dough in a circular fashion starting in the middle, leaving a clear border of about 7-8 cm (3 in)
  • Reserve remaining pear juices
  • Fold the border over the fruit in a loose fashion, leaving the centre open
  • Glaze the pastry with the egg white and sprinkle Turbinado sugar over pastry and fruit
  • Bake on middle rack for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is a nice golden brown
  • Boil the pear juices down to a lightly syrupy consistency, about 5 min., and pour into the centre of the tart.
  • Serve warm or cold
Keyword fruit, pears, tart
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Apple Torte Normandie

The actual French name for this torte is “Tarte normande aux pommes”. This has to be one of my all-time favourite recipes for making “Apple Pie”.Of course the people of the Normany would know how to do this really well because apples is one of the main agricultural products they produce. Think Calvados while you’re at it.

Apple Torte Normandie

Zen Chef
An exquisite apple torte using finely sliced apples, ground almond and honey.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings 8
Calories 280 kcal

Equipment

  • Spring Form (see bottom of post)

Ingredients
  

  • 250 g Pastry dough preferably all butter pastry dough
  • Butter for the mold spring form
  • 60 g Butter liquified
  • 60 g Sugar
  • 60 g Almond ground
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp Heavy cream whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp Honey lavender if you can get it
  • 3-4 Apples ripe and firm cooking, e.g. Mac’s, Gala, Imperial etc.
  • 1 tbsp Turbinado sugar
  • 1 tbsp Apricot jam or puré

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 200 °C
  • Grease the spring form with butter
  • Roll out dough and line the spring form
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes
  • In a glass mixing bowl, melt the butter and then beat in the sugar with a hand mixer until you get a nice creamy mixture
  • Add the egg yolk and keep mixing vigorously
  • Add the almonds and the cream, continuing to mix until well combined
  • Remove the spring form from the fridge and using a fork, evenly puncture the bottom of the dough
  • Spread the honey over the bottom
  • Add the almond mixture and spread evenly over bottom
  • Peel, quarter and core the apples
  • Slice the apple quarters into very thin wedges, about 3 mm on the outside
  • Arrange apple slices in 2 concentric circles starting on the outside and overlapping sliced about 5 mm.
  • For the middle, you can place a half an apple scored to look like it’s sliced or use any remaining slices to fill in the middle as you wish
  • Sprinkle top with Turbinado and slide into the oven
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180°C and continue baking for another 40 – 45 minutes or until you achieve a lovely colour
  • Remove the torte from the oven and let cool off a bit
  • Remove the torte from the form finish off by carefully brushing the torte all over with the apricot puré or jam
    Apple Torte Normandie
Keyword almonds, apples, honey, torte
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In pursuit of Vialone

The other day I happened to be in Quebec City. As I was wandering the streets of the old Quebec, I dropped in on one of the better known culinary specialty shops on rue Saint-Jean (more on that in another post).

I was hoping to find one or the other of one of my preferred varieties of rice for making Risottos, i.e. Vialone or Carnaroli. Amazingly, not only did they have both of these but they also had one I called “Baldo”. I found that quite intriguing as I had never actually seen it in any store before and so I bought some. Needless to say, I will have to let you know how my next Risotto based on this variety will turn out. Let’s just say, it’s another one of the Italian short grain varieties that will cook up in about 18 minutes without going mushy on you.
Well, that’s not actually accurate. You can make any variety of rice go mushy or creamy on you if you are of the restless type and have the need to keep stirring the bloody thing on a regular basis!

That said, did you know that there are some 100,000 plus varieties of rice in the world today?

And more on that later too 🙂

 

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Le Riopelle – Artist or Cheese?

A wedge of Riopelle cheese

The cheese, actually. But…

“Le Riopelle de l’Isle” is a triple cream cheese from Quebec. More specifically, from l’Isle-aux-Grues, which is part of an archipelago of islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence river east of Quebec somewhere between the Île d’Orléans and l’Île-aux-Coudre.
It is an artisinal cheese made by the dairy cooperative “La fromagerie de l’Île-aux-Grues”.

The Riopelle de l’Isle is a “blooming rind” cheese with a thin downy white mould rind. The “melt-in-your-mouth” center is creamy and smooth, reminiscent of rustic triple cream cheeses, with a salty and slightly acidic taste. It delivers delicious flavour and seductive texture, tasting of fresh milk and cream, a hint of soft butter and faint notes of mushroom. This cheese is positively “Zen Gourmand Approved”.

This cheese does borrow its name from the famous Canadian abstract impressionist painter Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923 – 2002) who was also the island’s most famous resident.
Just months before his death, the artist agreed to lend his name to the cheese and to allow the use of one of his masterpieces on its label stipulating that one dollar from every wheel sold is donated to an education fund for the islands youth.

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I love cheese…

Anyone who knows me also knows I love cheese. Soft ones, hard ones, mouldy ones, stinky ones, blue veined ones… I love them all.
We don’t have any really great cheese shops where I live so it usually means a treck to Downtown Toronto where we have several excellent shops.
The one I frequent most, simply as a matter of convenience, not as an endorsement, is located in the St. Lawrence Market.
Extensive selection, reasonable prices and good service.
Now, I’m not a guru on cheese and will admit I often have to look up a cheese I’m not familiar with. This means I have to reach for the “World Encyclopedia of Cheese“, prominently featured on of my bookshelves.
This is a fantastic book and has a ton of information on pretty much any cheese ever made anywhere in the world. It’s beautifully illustrated and even has some decent recipes along with some essential chapters on general cheese making, cheese types and how they are made, wine and cheese pairing considerations and how to assemble the perfect cheeseboard.
This is definitely a “Zen Gourmand Approved” book any cheese lover should have on the bookshelf.

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