Antipasti Platter

“There are two kinds of people in the world, those who are Italian and those who wish they were.”

I don’t know who said it but, I am definitely in the “wish I was” category. I love the country, the food, the people,  the language…..the shoes!

Big Pete laughs at me because I will watch cooking shows on the Italian, Latino Channel even when they are in Italian. I watch Lidia Bastianich just so I can watch her eat at the end of each show and hear her say “Tutti a tavola a mangiare” (Everyone come to the table and eat!) My latest favourite show is Two Greedy Italians.

 I know…I am extremely weird.

Last week, for no special reason my sweet husband went to the Gourmet Warehouse in Vancouver. He bought me some beautiful olive oils, a 12 year old balsamic vinegar and some wonderful  Fran’s Grey Salted Caramels. I just had to make him one of his favourite dinners to tell him I loved him for being so thoughtful!

Antipasti means before the meal and is intended to be an appetizer to get your taste buds going before the main meal. We always make the killer spread and make it the entire meal. I can’t even show you everything in a single picture. This is great idea for a casual get together or cocktail party. Everything is all prepared and spread out so your guests can choose what they like and graze for ages. I like to do some cold things, a few hot items like dips or grilled meats, some fruits and veggies and something sweet.

It’s easy and fun for a change.

Step 1: get out some large plates/platters. Start arranging “like” things together.  There are no rules here, put what you like out and arrange things in a manner that is pleasing to you. I have made several different plates.

Step 2: I have a selection of deli meats and cheeses on my main platter. I have used some hot soppresata, some dry cured salami, some honey ham, chunks of Parmesano Reggiano (always get the good stuff) a jar of artichokes in oil and vinegar, some tiny bocconcini cheeses with cherry tomatoes (I have added some oil and herbs, salt and pepper to them. I also had some jalapeno Havarti and some Fontina cheese. Use the things you like. If you don’t eat pork use a turkey or chicken selection or some lightly grilled tuna or salmon that has been cooked and is served in a vinaigrette. 
Step 3: I have added some slices of fresh bread along with a variety of crackers to a basket lined with a napkin.
Step 4: this is my new bottle of 12 year old balsamic and some small bottles of good Olive oil. I put out bowls of each of the oils so people can dip their bread in them and drizzle some of the thick syrupy balsamic vinegar on top. I have a nice tin of Merula oil from Spain and a limited edition oil from Italy called Dominica Fiore. It’s fun to taste the differences. A bottle of good balsamic will last you forever and although its expensive you use it in small amounts. I told you it was a present.(I guess he loves me too!) Enjoy some luxury in life from time to time. A good cheat is to buy a balsamic reduction for a much cheaper alternative, it will still give you a thick syrup consistency and also tastes wonderful on a piece of Parmesan. Try a piece of Parmesan with some honey and a few grains of ground coffee (Jamie Oliver told me that one!)
Step 5: I have a plate with some 4 year old prosciutto wrapped in a ripe melon and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. I have also put some fruit likes grapes and strawberries on this plate. You could use also use some fresh figs when you can find them. Whatever looks good when you are at the store or market.
Step 6: I have some small plates, one with hot chili jam that tastes great on a chunk of cheese or under a slice of meat. I have a variety of stuffed olives (some with garlic in the middle, some with chilies, some with lemon etc.) A nice idea is to get a selection of olives from the olive cart in the grocery store. Dress them at home with some fresh herbs, add some lemon zest , more olive oil and all of a sudden you have made them fancy. I have a small dish of pickled hot peppers and I have a small dish of roasted peppers (they come in a jar or make your own) that I have topped with goat cheese and melted briefly under the broiler.
Step 7 : a plate of vegetables in slices or chunks or both.
Step 8: I have added a few things that are served warm like my peppers and goat cheese and my grilled chevap(sausages- that I had frozen from another meal)  I have topped my sausages with lemon and olive oil for this meal.
Step 9: I toasted some toasted bread slices that have been rubbed with garlic a few times when they are hot. These little toasts (crostini) can be dipped in oil and sprinkled with some sea salt or used as an open faced sandwich. I like to serve a sparkling Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) as a nice cocktail and you can get good Prosecco everywhere now at affordable prices.
Step 10: you can prepare a make ahead dessert like a Tiramisu or I have prepared a simple apple strudel 
(I know its not very Italian!) but its something sweet (Dolce) to end this smorgasbord!
So… if you want to prepare one plate and use it as a starter to a meal or create a table covered as the entire meal, try it! You can stand up or sit down and graze for hours. Add some nice Dean Martin music  and it’s an instant party even if it’s just the two of you!!! wink wink.
That’s Amore!

Mediterranean Lemon Chicken Pizza

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore”

This is a surprising pizza made with ground chicken, the bright taste of lemon and fresh herbs.

You will need:


  • 1 1/2 tsp regular yeast (not instant)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water from tap
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt


  • pizza sauce – take some crushed canned tomatoes, mix in some chili flakes, fresh garlic salt, pepper, some fresh basil  and parsley. Mix and use. Do not cook. 

*  or cook 1-2 fresh chopped tomatoes with garlic and chili flakes, salt and pepper for a few minutes -then process in a food processor.

  • 1/2 lb. ground chicken 
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped  fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3 cloves garlic -chopped fine
  • lemon zest 2 tbsp
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • chili flakes

Step 1: put warm water, honey and yeast in a bowl, stir and leave 10 minutes.
Step 2: add the flour and mix. Once it is too difficult, pour mix out on the counter, add salt and knead the dough until all the flour has been incorporated or the mix is no longer sticky to the touch. There is a point when the dough will no longer take any more flour. It can take 5 -8 minutes to get a smooth dough.
Step 3: put dough in a large bowl with some olive oil to avoid sticking. Roll the dough in oil so it is coated. Cover with plastic wrap.
 I  like to leave in fridge for at least 24 hours (up to 48 hours) it makes a better crust in my opinion. I find it makes a crust that is crusty on the outside and has a nice chewy interior. If you don’t have time, you can make this a few hours before using. Let come to room temperature before using.
Step 4: when the dough is ready I remove from the bowl and divide into 2 balls
Step 5: on a large piece of parchment roll out a rough circle using flour as necessary.
Step 6: in some olive oil fry the chicken until lightly browned. Add balsamic vinegar, honey and Italian seasoning. Cook 2-3 minutes. Remove to a bowl and add chopped herbs, lemon zest, salt, pepper and additional chili flakes if you like.

Step 7: fry some finely chopped onion in olive oil

Step 8: add a thin layer of pizza sauce , then some mozzarella , then the chicken and cooked onions.
Step 9: bake at 500 degrees for approx 5 minutes , remove and let rest for 5 minutes. 

Pumpkin Doggy Biscotti

In the middle of one night, last summer…I heard a noise, like a scratch on the window downstairs.

Big Pete thinks I have bionic hearing like Jamie Sommers. (If you grew up in the 70’s you watched the Bionic Woman and The Six Million Dollar Man every week )

 Jamie would put her hair behind her ear and then she would listen…….De,de,de,de,de,de,de,de,de (it made that sound too!!)

So, ……I go downstairs thinking something is fishy. I notice the motion sensor light is on and my hanging plant is swaying in the window outside . I look to the tree outside and notice no breeze. Either someone is trying to break into my house or…..I open the back door and look out and see a BLACK BEAR standing up at my fence eating out of my bird feeder!! “What the……I start clapping my hands loudly and running outside, chasing the bear. I am yelling to Big Pete who manages to look out the window as the bear is hopping the fence. He sits on top of my fence and stares at me for a few seconds before deciding to leave.

I think I heard him say ” Hey Lady could you leave me a nice PIC-A-NIC basket next time!”

This is a sign we see when we drive to Whistler. When you live in BC you live in bear country. I learned last summer that you do not leave bird feeders up or else you are feeding the bears.

You can however, feed your favorite POOCH!!

What you will need:

  • 1 cup canned pumpkim puree (not pie filling-plain puree)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla (never use the artificial -it’s made from wood!)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup quick cook oats
Step 1: in a bowl whisk wet ingredients: pumpkin puree (any leftover can be frozen) honey, water, olive oil, egg, vanilla.
Step 2: add dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, rolled oats. Stir with a wooden spoon until becomes too stiff. Dump mixture onto counter and knead until becomes a smooth dough and it no longer sticky. You may have a bit of flour leftover or you might need some more depending on the day/humidity.
Step 3: roll into log that is 2 inches wide. This recipe will make a 2 foot log so if you find it easier to work with a smaller piece cut in half. Press to flatten log.
Step 4: slice into thin biscotti
Step 5: bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Then remove from oven and flip over. Return for additional 15-20 minutes until brown. Let cool completely and store in an air tight container for a softer cookie or let dry exposed for a rock hard cookie.
 Your favorite pooch will love you!!

Bruscetta Al Tonno- from Sara Moulton

I was watching Sara Moulton’s weeknight meals and she made a simple tuna and bean bruscetta on some big slices of toasted Italian bread. This is my version which made a wonderful light lunch on a lazy Saturday afternoon. It’s all the things I love with fish, lemon and olive oil and fresh herbs. I made mine on some baguette crostinis. and this is showing another great idea if you choose to eat it on a whole wheat pita.

You Will Need:

  • can of tuna in olive oil
  • 14 oz can of cannellini beans 
  • 2 tbsp chopped capers
  • 1/4 red onion sliced
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 tomato
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • garlic clove for toasted bread
  • slices of toasted bread

Step 1: start with a good quality tuna in olive oil. Estevan is a local British Columbia company that fishes in sustainable ways. There are some excellent Italian canned  tuna in olive oils as well. I also used a small can (14 oz) of Cannellini beans which for some reason I can only ever find in the organic section of my grocery stores.

Step 2: rinse the beans and drain the oil and flake the tuna (I like to add my own olive oil to the salad)

Step3: chop tomato, parsley, capers and red onions.

Step 4: gently mix all ingredients to avoid completely crushing the tuna.

Step 5: squeeze lemon, add olive oil, salt and pepper. Taste it! if you need to adjust do it now.

Step 6: slice and toast bread. Rub a piece of garlic 2 or 3 times over the hot toasted bread. Then top with tuna mix and enjoy!
terrible picture I was having a problem with my camera and used my phone.
Bought a new camera and I am back in business again!

Halibut Nuggets and Chopped Salad

When I was a kid it was a real treat to have fish and chips for dinner. We went to the Parkside Fish and Chips shop ( named because it was on the same side of the street as the park!) You got a huge chunk of battered halibut for 75 cents and a big order of chips for 25 cents. Your order came all wrapped up in newspaper and you had to run home (which was exactly 3 minutes away) so that your fish and chips were still crunchy. We ate them with salt and malt vinegar and  occasionally a blob of ketchup to dip the fries. Prices have certainly changed ! Halibut is no longer cheap but, it is still a great treat to have it.
 Ahhh..I can smell the vinegar in my nose right now, pure heaven.
In this recipe the chunks of Halibut are breaded and served over a finely chopped salad with a pineapple chutney as a dipping/topping. Halibut is freshly caught where I live but still crazy expensive. 

What you will need:


  • halibut (If frozen thaw in fridge)
  • 1/2 cup flour( more if necessary)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp zest of orange
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp Old Bay seafood seasoning 


  • 2-3 cups romaine lettuce finely sliced
  • 1-2 tomatoes chopped to fine dice
  • 1 English cucumbers (aka hot house) chopped fine
  • 2 green onions/scallions chopped
  • 1 small zucchini grated
  • 3 radishes grated

Salad Dressing

  • 1/2  orange- juiced
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • salt/pepper


  • 2 cups pineapple chopped 
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 orange- juiced
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice

oil for frying (grapeseed or canola)

Step 1: buy Halibut  from a reputable fish monger. You can use frozen fish that has thawed in the fridge  I have used a piece that is 0.324 kg which is 324 grams or 11.4 oz or 0.714 lbs. I told you it was expensive!
Step 2: chop into large chunks
Step 3: set up the standard 3 dish method for breading something. In one bowl have flour and old bay seasoning, in the second bowl 1 or 2 eggs whisked and in the third bowl some breadcrumbs and orange zest.
Step 4: pat fish with paper towel to dry. Toss chunks in flour until coated, then toss all chunks into the egg mixture, then finally coat in breadcrumbs and set aside on plate.
Step 5: Prepare chopped salad. I Iike that all the ingredients are finely grated or chopped. You can use whatever you like in your salad. I have used finely sliced romaine lettuce, chopped cucumber. chopped tomato, green onion, grated zucchini (just on a box grater) and grated radishes.
Step 6: prepare salad dressing in a small bowl with a lid (or a clean jar) so you can shake to emulsify. Add olive oil, apple cider vinegar, squeeze half an orange add a bit of honey, salt and pepper. Reserve until right before serving.
Step 7: to prepare pineapple chutney sauce. Chop fresh pineapple (I had some leftover from a few days earlier when I made a ham and pineapple pizza) into small chunks, add red onion, fresh cilantro, soy sauce, orange juice, lime juice and cook few minutes until soft. Then puree in food processor until still has some texture. put in a small bowl and reserve.
Step 8: fry fish in grapeseed or canola oil. Use an oil with a higher smoke point than my normal olive oil. It doesn’t have to be too much oil. You can use a deep heavy pot and just enough oil to almost cover the chunks. Allow the oil to be hot before adding fish I use a thermometer and fry at 350. If you don’t have a thermometer you can toss in a tiny piece of fish to see if it instantly sizzles. If  it is hot enough it will sizzle, if not wait. Fry until the chunks are browned. Remove and put on paper to cool slightly. Add salt to fish immediately after coming out of oil. 
I like this as an alternative to fish and chips. Halibut is such a meaty fish and the subtle orange in the batter as well as the brightness of the pineapple chutney really play well on this mild fish.

Chocolate Raspberry Torte- Cook’s Illustrated

I remember when the only cooking shows on TV were shown on Saturday morning on PBS.

Originally there were only two shows. Graham Kerr’s Galloping Gourmet and Julia Child’s The French Chef

The Galloping Gourmet tv show photo

 My mother and I watched every show religiously. They were very entertaining and you can sometimes still catch them on PBS. Today, we have so many options. We have access to such a good variety on TV,  in  magazines,  the Internet and the wonderful selection of cookbooks available.

My husband is still pissed at me because I have burned the food network logo into the bottom left hand corner of our plasma TV.

This is a rich, dense and “chocolatey” torte. A torte is a European cake that is typically made with nut flour. This is a cake from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe that was developed in the style of the famous Viennese Sacher Torte. I have actually had the pleasure to sit in the Cafe Sacher in Vienna and eat the original from the place it was invented. The Sacher torte is normally made with an Apricot filing and has less of a “chocolatey” taste to it. Cook’s Illustrated created this recipe and I find it to be very very good. It is rich and velvety in texture with lots of chocolate flavour and the raspberry/chocolate mix is a natural combination. America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country are wonderful shows on PBS and they publish exceptional magazines. I have been watching them for years, I subscribe to both their magazines (Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country) and I am occasionally a recipe tester for them.

I will definitely make this cake again! There are many steps however, the end product is well worth the effort. if you have any cake that is left and has been refrigerated for longer than the recommended hour at the end of this recipe. Take it out of the fridge and let come to room temperature to let the chocolate ganache frosting and the cake become soft  again before serving.

You will need:

  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 8 oz (227grams) best bittersweet chocolate- chopped
  • 2 tsp real vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup almond slices (ground into flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup almond slices
  • 5 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 16 whole raspberries
  • 1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 5 oz(142 grams) bittersweet chocolate- chopped
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp whipping cream

Grease and flour 2 x 9inch round baking pans with parchment insert. This is a delicate cake and you do not want it to stick to the pans.
Step 1: weigh and chop 8oz/227grams of good quality bittersweet chocolate. I find a knife with a serrated edge works best.
Step 2: over a pot of barely boiling water melt chopped chocolate and butter. Stir until incorporated. Make sure the bowl is large enough so you do not to allow any steam to get to your chocolate or it will seize up.

Step 3: Remove from heat and add vanilla and espresso powder.Allow to cool for 30 minutes.
Step 4: in a food processor add 1 cup of sliced almonds and grind  approx. 45 seconds into a fine flour.  Do not grind so far as to make the nuts turn into a paste, you are looking for a fine powder.
Add 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 tsp salt, pulse few times to mix. Pour into a bowl and reserve for later.
Step 5: For the decorative almonds around the finished cake add 3/4 cup almond slices to food processor and pulse 6-8 pulses. You can use with or without skins. I have used the sliced almonds without skins just because I like the contrast against the dark chocolate. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
Step 6: add 5 eggs to the food processor and blend for 3 minutes until it will lighten up in colour and doubles in size. Add 3/4 sugar pouring through the top of the processor and blend until mixed through.
Step 7: pour egg mixture into cooled chocolate and with a whisk gently fold over as if using a spatula to fold egg whites. Folding with the whisk will avoid deflating the eggs you have whipped. When it looks as though it is almost incorporated you can add the nut flour mixture in the same manner.
Step 8: Add half the flour mixture and gently fold in. Add remaining half and continue until  just incorporated.
Step 9: pour equally into two prepared baking pans. Gently smooth out.
Step 10: Bake at 325 degrees 14-16 minutes. Cake should be firm and a toothpick inserted in the middle will have moist crumbs. Let cool completely in pans 30 minutes.
Step 11: cut out two cardboard rounds that will fit into the pans and allows you to invert the pans and allow the cake to fall on the cardboard . These are delicate at this stage. 
Step 12: prepare the raspberry filling in a bowl. Add 1/2 cup fresh raspberries with 1/4 seedless raspberry jam (I used my homemade full of seeds raspberry jam and it was still great!) and squish the fresh berries and mix the jam in. 
Step 13: Top this mix over the first layer and gently slide the second layer on top.

Step 14: to prepare chocolate ganache for the icing. In a bowl over gently simmering water melt 5 oz/142 grams bittersweet chocolate and 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp whipping cream. Once melted and mixed you can pour over top of the cake.
Step 15:  place cake over a cookie rack with a cookie sheet covered in foil underneath (for easy clean up) then with a small off set spatula gently allow the chocolate to go over the edges and then smooth and cover the sides with ganache. Once the cake has been frosted. Hold the cake under the bottom in one hand and with the other put the chopped nuts in your palm and gently press into sides until covered. You allow the excess nuts to fall onto the cookie sheet.  Top with 16 fresh raspberries. You place them equally by putting a berry at 12 oclock and 6 pm, then 3 pm and 9 pm. Then fill in the rest equally.
Let chill in fridge for 1 hour before serving.
Gorgeous! luxurious, velvety and moist.
I know you want to eat this! Will you try to bake this? that is the question.

Spanakopita- Spinach and Feta Pie

“I’m strong to the finish, cause I eats my spinach. I’m Popeye the sailor man!” TOOT TOOT

Spanakopita is a delicious Greek savoury pie. It is made in a large tray or as individual triangles.
 Greek lesson…’s pronounced SPANA-KO-PEE-TA- emphasis on the KO, not SPANA-KOPITA  said quickly with the emphasis on the PITA. 
This is for my husband who is the only person with Greek on his father’s side and can’t pronounce anything properly in should hear him say SOUVLAKI! 
The spinach and feta is sandwiched between layers of flaky Phyllo pastry. (I just have to say it…I go crazy when people call it FY-LOW pastry, it just drives me nuts for some reason. It’s pronounced FEE- LO)
OPA! Now that I have that off my chest lets move on!
What you need:
  • 15 oz of fresh spinach
  • 1/2 onion chopped fine
  • 15 oz of Greek Feta (get the imported- for me there is no comparison)
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 3 chopped green onions/scallions
  • fresh nutmeg (5-6 scrapes on the grater)
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1 egg
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper
  • Box of Phyllo pastry -thawed (or if you can get fresh from a Greek bakery even better)
  • butter/olive oil for brushing pastry

Step 1:  In a large pot fry onions with salt, pepper and a few tbsp of olive oil until softened and slightly browned.
Step 2: add spinach 1 bag at a time (I have used 2 bags of baby spinach they came in a 9oz and a 6 oz size) and continue cooking for approx 5-7 minutes until spinach has all wilted and cooked down to a little pile
Step 3: remove from pan and allow to cool in a colander. Once cooled you can start to squeeze out as much water as possible from the spinach with your hands. At this point I add to paper towels to continue to squeeze and dry spinach as much as possible. Then chop finely. You could also do this with frozen spinach.
Step 4: in a bowl add crumbled feta, dried spinach, egg, lemon juice, green onions, parsley, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix until combined.
Step 5: mix some melted butter or what I normally do is add  a half a stick of melted butter to 1/2 the amount of olive oil. I use a small glass dish (this one is 8 x10) and start by buttering the bottom and sides of the dish with butter/oil. Layer a sheet of Phyllo and brush on more butter/oil. I continue the same way until I have 6-7 sheets layered and buttered. This is a small recipe by most Greek standards.
 I think its perfect for 6 servings.
Step 6: add my filling
Step 7: start to fold up each layer individually and brush on more butter/oil between each later.  Once all layers are folded add a final layer of melted butter/oil to the top.
Step 8: slice into the portion size you like with a sharp knife. I like to use a glass dish so that I don’t damage 
the pan . Glass can handle me cutting it in the pan while a metal baking pan would get damaged.
Step 9: Bake at 350 until golden brown and bubbling. Serve warm or room temp. 
If you have leftovers then you can cover and refrigerate however, the phyllo will get soggy in the fridge. To refresh/reheat the Spanakopita you can easily put in the oven at 350 for a few minutes and the top will crisp up again.  
Don’t you want to cook that!?

Croatian Chevapcici and Sopova Salad

Chevapcici (pronounced Che-vap- chi-chi or Chevap) are small sausages (without casings) from the countries that were the former Yugoslavia, Czech republic, Slovakia and some parts of Italy. They are street food you can get  from grill stands near the beaches and of course everyone makes them at home. I grew up eating them at Teta Mitcica’s house (Teta means Aunt and it’s pronounced Meet-seat-sa) She would have to make tons of them since there was always an army of people when this was on the menu. Everyone eats  6 or 7  and if you are a boy you will eat way more. You can never stop once you start. They were always grilled over charcoal and everyone stood waiting to get hem as soon as they came off the flame. They were served with onions and pita bread. Mitcica  made hers with beef, pork and  veal and never added grated onion or paprika  but, this is how I make mine. I hope she will like them! I have served them with a salad (salata) that is topped with Feta cheese and some potatoes.   Everyone loves these, you have to make them.

                                       “You know the way you smell when you first come home from the beach? Well, I want to make a cologne that captures the essence of that smell”
-Cosmo Kramer     

 Mitcica and Ivica all tanned from being at the beach all day. Now they want some Chevapcici and Salata!
You will need:
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork (or equal veal,pork and beef…..or just beef!)
  • 5 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp hot paprika 
  • 1 grated onion
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • salt & pepper

  • tomatoes
  • cucumber
  • red onion
  • red/green peppers (sweet)
  • feta cheese
  • 1 crushed garlic (small)
  • red wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper

  • boiled potatoes (cooled & chopped)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • parsley
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper
  • lemon zest
Step 1:  Put beef and pork into a bowl and add crushed garlic, hot paprika, grated onion, chopped parsley, salt and pepper. If you prefer to leave out the paprika or make it mild instead of hot go ahead. This is the kind of thing that everyone makes slightly different. Mix gently but thoroughly to prevent a tough chevap.
Step 2: roll into equal sized logs they should be like a fat finger. I use a small ice cream scoop to get them all the same size then shape into chevap and I like to wet my hands to form them.
(for some reason I didn’t take many pictures for this recipe! sorry, my bad.)
Step 3: make salad in a large bowl. I have not added exact amounts for ingredients because it’s really based on your preference or the size of your crowd. The salad dressing is made by pouring the ingredients directly on the vegetables and then mixing all together (as compared to making the dressing in a container & pouring over) I take some olive oil, some  red wine vinegar and pour onto vegetables. I add the crushed garlic and some salt and pepper. Toss the salad and taste. If it needs more vinegar, add it etc.. I normally plate the salad and crumble the feta on top but, if you prefer to serve family style with a big bowl then just add the crumbled feta to the top of the salad in the bowl. This is similar to a Greek salad just no lemon juice and dried oregano. I also sometimes add a tsp of sugar if it needs something. 
I never have store bought salad dressing in my house. I have always just bought  lots of different good vinegars and  oils and I make my own. 
Step 4: Grill the Chevapcici- few minutes on each side-do not over cook.
Step 5: while the Chevapcici are grilling make the fried potatoes. In a large pan fry onions until they start to brown (medium heat) then add potatoes (turn up heat and add more olive oil if necessary) add parsley, garlic, a bit of lemon zest, salt and pepper. I fry in enough olive oil to get the potatoes crunchy. This takes a few minutes since they are already cooked you are just getting them browned and crunchy. Taste them and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

At Teta Mitcica’s house they would eat these with onions and bread and salad. I take the onions out of my salad that are soaked in the vinegar and oil and eat them together with my meat. I like the oil and vinegar along with the onions that have kind of quickly pickled by this point. 

Yoy!!! these are really good!!

Burgers and Meatballs…Oh My!

Vincent:  I do love the taste of a good burger. Mm-mm-mm. You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in France? 

Brett: No. 

Jules: Tell ’em, Vincent. 

Vincent:  A Royale with cheese. 

Jules: A Royale with cheese! You know why they call it that? 

Brett: Because of the metric system? 

Pulp Fiction – 1994

I said it before a good burger is my favourite thing in the world to eat!

 I will show you here that you can make three things with the same mix.

You will need:


  • ground beef (regular or 80/20 mix)
  • ground pork (1/2 as much as the beef)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 slice bread
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp bar-b-q- sauce


  • everything listed above plus
  • 4 large basil leaves
  • 1 inch piece of Parmesan (larger if you like)

Spaghetti sauce

  • 28 ox can of crushed or whole tomatoes
  • fresh basil
  • fresh parsley
  • onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • couple shakes of Worcestershire

Start with the best quality meat. I use a beef and pork mixture. If you prefer to just use beef then make sure it has enough fat in it so your burgers are not dry. I love the way the U.S labels the percentage of fat on their packages. In Canada I would recommend using a regular ground beef  not a lean. I mix the ground beef with a ground pork because the pork adds another dimension of flavour and the ground pork has the needed fat.
Step 1: put both meats in a large bowl.

Step 2: in a food processor pulse 1 white onion, 1 slice whole wheat bread, 1 tbsp Italian seasoning, 1 tbsp Bar-b-q sauce.
Step 3: mix the bread and spices with the meat. Be gentle and not over mix the meat. Jamie Oliver would say “use your fairy fingers”
Step 4: once mixed form the exact amount of burgers to the amount of buns in your package or make the exact amount you are cooking up to eat. I place them in between wax paper for easy transport to the grill.
These were cooked on a hot grill. I add salt and pepper as well as any of my favourite bar-b-q seasoning mix.  As soon as I flip them I normally put on the cheese, which in this case was jalapeno Havarti. Cook a few minutes until the cheese is melted and you are done. I also think you can make an amazing burger in a cast iron pan on the stove. These were little sliders so remember they are thin and cook quickly. Don’t overcook them or they will be dry.
Next………….I take the same mixture of meat that is leftover and turn them into meatballs.
Step 1: take meat and add some fresh basil and Parmesan cheese that I have pulsed in the food processor. Add salt and pepper. Mix gently with your hands to combine.
Step 2: I use a small ice cream scoop to create meatballs that are the same size. I form balls in my hands. Continue until all meat is used.
Step 3: at this stage I place on a sheet pan and freeze. Once they are frozen I place into Ziploc bags and leave them frozen until I want to make Spaghetti and meatballs or a meatball sub sandwich.
How do I do that?
Step 1: take out frozen meatballs and place on a baking pan with parchment paper. heat oven to 375 degrees and bake 10 minutes until they release most of their water and fat and they just start to get browned.
Step 2: in a saute pan I fry a shredded carrot, chopped basil, chopped parsley, finely diced celery (you could do all of this in a food processor) Italian seasoning, salt/pepper and chili flakes.
Step 3: add can of crushed tomatoes and blend. I also add a bit of balsamic vinegar and some sugar to offset the acidity of the tomatoes.
Step 4: remove partially cooked meatballs from baking sheet (see how much water and fat has come out) and add them to sauce. Cook on low for an hour. It can stay on the stove for longer. Once most of the water evaporates I like to add the starchy water from the cooking pasta noodles to make it smooth and silky.
I cook the spaghetti until they are al dente (still a bit hard to the tooth) and then I take the pasta and either put in into the pot with the sauce or I strain the noodles and then return back to the pot with some pasta water I have kept and then add some of the sauce to coat noodles, Once the noodles are coated with sauce I then place on plate and add more sauce,  meatballs and grated Parmesan to top.
If I have any meatballs leftover. You can make some meatballs sub sandwiches. You warm up meatballs, take a nice fresh crusty roll add, balls, sauce and some cheese- melt under broiler for a few minutes TADA!!
3 things from a package of beef and a package of pork

Granville Market Favorite Shops

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” 
― Roald Dahl

Granville Island is a unique little jewel right in the middle of downtown Vancouver. When we are on our way up to Whistler or just in Vancouver for the afternoon I always find a way to  visit some of my favourite purveyors. Growing up in Toronto I have similar fond memories of going to the St. Lawrence or Kensington Markets with my father on a Saturday morning. Granville Market has that same magic of colourful stalls, bustling action and glorious food from end to end. I walk in circles trying to find what I am looking for and then wondering if I am missing something even better around the next corner.

Look at the beautiful peppers
Strawberries piled high
Fruit spilling out like piles of gold in a pirate story.
Pastries and desserts – how can you choose just one?
Crusty loaves of warm there anything sexier than that smell!
Which steak will he choose for dinner tonight?
Local Honey
Granville is right on the water and of course there are many fresh seafood stalls with wild salmon of every kind. When I  first came to British Columbia I discovered  candied salmon. It’s like sweet maple syrup fish chunks. Salty, sweet and yummy. To be honest,  I would eat anything with maple syrup on it.
 I used to work with a guy named Cherif. I would catch him surfing the web at his desk and I would ask him what he was looking at. The guy was always looking  at fish markets from  all over the world! 
At that point I would have to ask him what was wrong with him and tell him to go surf some porn like all the rest of the guys.
  Cherif……..these pictures are for you buddy!! He would freak out if he tasted the candied salmon. 
The Oyama Sausage Company  has the very best charcuterie! a million kinds of Saucisson, salami, every kind of ham or cured meat you can imagine. I spend  at  least $100 every time. I love the saucisson with cognac, lemon or wine. You simply must go home after this and make the killer anti-pasta plate. Gobs of cheese and crusty bread, crackers, olives and fruit. 
If Big Pete saw these pictures he would ask me to make a giant  anti-pasta plate for dinner right now.
Duso’s Italia has beautiful fresh pastas, a shelf entirely filled with good olive oils, cases of olives and peppers and Italian cheeses. My mouth is watering just thinking about it
Is this a thing of beauty?! I feel the same way when I am in the shoe department in Nordstroms. 
Chocolatas is my favourite chocolate producer! Gorgeous chocolate that is created by a Belgian name Wim Tas. 
Their chocolate is so fresh and wonderful to eat that you will be ruined and never want anything else. It is truly unlike any other chocolate. I am so lucky because I live 10 minutes from their location in Abbotsford, BC where they make the chocolates. I  love to go there because you can buy wonderful quality baking chocolate as well as their filled chocolates. They are so helpful and will gladly share ideas on how to make your own homemade truffles.
   It really does not matter what you try, its all just so good.
Look what I got for Valentine’s day!
My last favourite shop is  Benton Brothers Fine Cheese
They have a phenomenal selection of handcrafted, small production artisanal cheeses. You have to try something new every time you go and they are only too happy to help you select. I spend way to much time staring and choosing at this case.
Granville Market is set in such a pretty city and even on a cloudy day in February Springtime is starting to emerge.
 Outside the market someone is waiting for you to drop a piece of something delicious by accident!!