Archives for December 2006


Reflecting back on 2006 as it is drawing to a close, I have to say that it’s been a great year!

In the food department, it has also been terrific.
We enjoyed fresh caught salmon from BC’s rivers, prepared in many ways, including homemade gravlax. We feasted in the Okanagan on local cheeses and cherries, plums and peaches picked right from the tree. Three weddings rounded out our fall and our quota for fine dining, and now we’re smack in the middle of holidays with tomorrow promising to be an afternoon of eating our way around downtown as we visit all our favorite spots.

Of course, one of the highlights of the year was jumping into the blogosphere with both feet and cooking up Under the High Chair. It’s been so much fun and I am just getting started. I have so many ideas for the future of this blog, it just a matter of finding the time and beefing up on my computer nerd skills.

Which reminds me….

I have to thank the very special someone in the photo above for all the love, encouragement, and the kick in the pants to start UtHC. Thanks, Danny, for your highly skilled technical support; for your gift of more camera equipment; for encouraging shopping sprees at Ares Cuisine; and for being such a loyal fan of my cooking! I love you.

Also, to all of YOU, my friends from Hungary to Hawaii, Guatemala to Georgia; thanks for reading!! If I have inspired, entertained, or uplifted one person, I have succeeded with UtHC. Stay tuned and keep reading!

Here’s to many more adventures in the culinary world in 2007!!

Granny’s Trifle

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I hope everyone’s Christmas was extra special and full of good times with friends and family! I’m exhausted, but content, and feel blessed to have such a sweet little family and a caring extended family. Thanks, Wimbushes, for all the calls, presents, and well wishes. Wish we could have been together. Next year!

Lots and lots of great food was enjoyed and pictured here is a trifle I made on Christmas day. My Grandma Edith from England would have been proud. Sherry soaked sponge cake, custard, raspberries, strawberries and cream. Mmm, it was even better on the second day!

Happy Holidays to all!

WFD? Not Your Granny’s Tourtiere

I have a confession. I have never made tourtiere. I mean, I’ve never had to in all my 8 years in Quebec. I’ve always been around people who have the best tourtiere recipe that was handed down from their grand, grand, grand-mere and are more than happy to make it for me. Everyone’s recipe is different, yet each boast that theirs is the true way to make tourtiere (meat pie, to those of you who are lost.)

Being half British and half Ukrainian, I never inherited such a recipe, but give me a bag of potatoes and some flour and I can whip up a mean batch of perogies. In all my past Christmases, I have either relied on the skills of others, or nipped over to my local marché that carries amazing beef, pork, chicken, duck, or elk tourtiere, because it’s just not possible to have a Joyeux Noel without tourtiere.

However, after eight years it’s time to come up with my own recipe, my own blend of spices, my own mixture of meat, and create that perfect recipe so that I can hand it down to my great, great grandchildren. From what I have gathered, pretty much anything goes inside as long as it’s rich and flavorful: duck, foie gras, Balsamic vinegar, mushrooms, venison, potatoes, rabbit, cranberries…

I chose a traditional mix of meats-veal, pork and beef- and added a few of my own favorites that I thought would complement the meat: apples, bacon, Dijon and the freshest blend of spices I could get my hands on. The result was pretty fabulous, not bad for a first time! Although I’m not 100% sure that this is THE recipe and I’d like to keep playing around a bit more in upcoming years, this one will definitely tide us over for these holidays!

We enjoyed it with a robust Les Cranilles cotes-du-rhone, Les Vines de Vienne 2004

and that about put us over the moon..

I hope you enjoy it too, and please, hold the ketchup, ok?
Not Your Granny’s Tourtiere

Make 4- 9inch tourtieres

2 kgs. ground meat: pork, beef and veal 2 tablespoons duck or bacon fat 3 medium onions, diced 3 apples, peeled and diced 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard ¼ cup white flour 6 thick slices slab bacon, cubed 3 branches celery, diced 6 whole cloves 10 peppercorns 2 inch stick of fresh cinnamon 5 whole allspice 2 bay leaves 4 cups beef stock salt to taste Four double pie crusts
In a spice grinder, grind cloves, peppercorn, cinnamon and allspice until fine. Reserve. In a large, heavy duty pot, melt the duck fat and brown all the meat, separating it into pea-sized chunks with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Strain into a colander and let the fat drain out while you return the pot to the stove. Add bacon and sauté lightly; add onions and celery; sauté until wilted. Return the browned meat to this mixture and to this add the ground spice mixture, the bay leaves and the beef stock. Mix well and cook on medium low heat until liquid is reduced by half; stir often. In a mixing bowl combine apples and flour until apples are well coated. Add Dijon mustard and mix well. Remove meat mixture from heat and add apples; stir to combine. Liquid should be all absorbed. Season with salt and cool.

Roll out tourtiere dough and fill pie shells with tourtiere filling. Top with another pie dough and seal edges. Cut a few slits or a design in the top to allow hot air to escape and brush with beaten egg. Bake at 375F until crust is nicely browned.

These freeze well, either before or after baking.

So proud

Here’s my buddy, Angus An, who recently opened his own restaurant in Vancouver and is getting rave reviews. I feel so proud!! Angus worked under me for a brief period at Toque!-I still remember his first day-then moved on to another station and eventually became the saucier. We had some great times together, went through a lot of crap and managed to keep in touch over the last few years. Now look at where he has gone!

Angus, hat’s off to you. I wish you all the best!!! I can’t wait to come eat.

Here’s a glowing review from last week in the Vancouver Sun: So smooth-that’s Gastropod

If anyone’s reading from the Vancover area, go eat at this restaurant.

1938 West Fourth Ave., 604-730-5579.
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 5:30 to 11p.m. Will open for lunch in late January.

Best of ’06: Food Website

Mincemeat Shortbread Bars from

I have to say, I rarely use the internet and food websites for recipes. There is so much chaff out there, it takes forever to find the wheat. I’’ll read food news, browse food forums, look at pictures, and loose myself in the foodie blogosphere, but almost never go looking for recipes, unless I have something wierd like a geoduck to cook


The last time I went looking for inspiration, I had some green beans I wanted to liven up and I came across this casserole recipe:

Ingredients: 2 cans green beans, drained
1 lb. cooked sausage, drained
2 cans Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup onions
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 bag Tator Tots Directions: Mix all together. Put in 9×13 casserole and bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or longer, until Tator Tots are browned. BLECH! That was enough to turn me off for a good long time.

I prefer to work from my own experience or experim

ent; however, I recently came across a baking site with such pretty pictures and so easy to navigate that I had to stay and surf. What I found was a thorough and helpful site, with actually original recipes. I couldn’t wait to try them!

Ta da!

is my pick for Best Food Website of 2006
I’m sure you’ll enjoy their ‘Comfort Food’ and ‘ English Tea’ sections, and did I mention there is a whole department dedicated to Christmas baking?

I ‘m sure you’ll find some inspiration there. Check out their recipe for Mincemeat Shortbread Bars. Sensational! My version is pictured above, but their picture is literally saliva inducing.


P.S. In case you were wondering, this is a picture of a geoduck, and yes, I have cooked and eaten this giant clam. Let’s just say that in the professionl kitchen it goes by another name.