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What does it take?

People often ask what it takes to be a great cook. There are many different thoughts on this topic but what comes to mind is a strange phrase that cooks and chefs have utilized in the kitchen for centuries. Mise en Place (pronounced: meez on plahss) translated, "Mise en Place" means "To Put in Place." In other words, organize yourself and your workspace. If you can recall some of your kitchen disasters, they most likely resulted from disorganization and rushing around. All it takes is a little practice to avoid unnecessary stress in the kitchen.

Here's a short list of guidelines to help you:

Put this technique to work for you, and your kitchen experiences will all be a pleasure.

Candied Walnut & Gorgonzola Salad

This salad is elegant and impressive without a lot of work. The sweet and crunchy candied walnuts pair perfectly with the creamy and salty gorgonzola cheese. The raspberry vinaigrette adds some colour and sweet flavour to the dish.

Candied walnuts just take a couple of minutes to make and add a fancy element to the salad that will have people thinking you’re a gourmet cook. Just cook some walnuts with some sugar over medium heat for a couple of minutes until the sugar turns into this beautiful caramel colour.

Pour the coated walnuts onto some aluminum foil to cool. Crumble over mixed garden greens, some raisins, craisins, and crumbled gorgonzola cheese!

Chef's Tip: Place roughly chopped pieces of cheese in freezer. Once good and cold you will be able to break into smaller pieces.

Grilled Stuff Portabella Mushrooms



Preheat your grill to medium high 350-400F.

Remove the stem and brown gills from the undersides of mushroom caps using a spoon and discard (the gills are very bitter).

Combine the tomato, cheese, 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, rosemary, basil, pepper and garlic in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, sesame oil, lemon juice and soy sauce; brush over both sides of mushroom caps.

Place the mushroom caps, stem sides down on grill rack coated with cooking spray and grill for 5 minutes turning to create criss-cross marks; then flip over and add tomato and cheese mixture to each mushroom dividing evenly and continue to grill with lid down for another 3 minutes or until the cheese melts.

Sprinkle with parsley.

Turkey Stock



Put oven rack in lowest position of oven and preheat oven to 400°F Convection Roast. Roast turkey parts, skin sides down, in dry roasting pan for 25 minutes, turn carcass over and add onion, celery and carrots to the fat in the pan. Cook another 20-25 minutes, stirring the vegetables once. Remove from oven and transfer the turkey carcass and vegetables to an 8 to 10 quart stockpot with tongs. Leave the fat in the roasting pan.

Straddle the roasting pan across 2 burners, add 2 cups water and deglaze by boiling, stirring and scraping up the brown bits

Turning over once, until well browned, about 45 minutes. Transfer to an 8- to 10-quart stockpot with tongs, reserving fat in roasting pan.

Add onions (cut sides down), celery, and carrots to fat in pan and roast, stirring halfway through roasting, until golden, about 20 minutes total. Add vegetables to turkey in stockpot.

Straddle pan across 2 burners, then add 2 cups water and deglaze by boiling, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Add deglazing liquid to turkey and vegetables in stockpot, then add seasonings – thyme, basil, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, salt, and remaining 4 1/2 quarts water. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and gently simmer, partially covered, 3 hours.

Pour stock through a large fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, discarding solids.. If using immediately, let stand until fat rises to top, 1 to 2 minutes, then skim off fat. If not, cool completely, uncovered, then chill, covered, remove fat (it will be easier to remove when cool or cold).and reserve in freezer bag to use to make roux for gravy.

Yield: Makes about 3 litres


Stock and fat can be chilled in an airtight container 1 week or frozen 3 months

To make "base gravy" melt fat and add equal parts by weight of flour to make roux then cook over low heat to you reach consistency of wet sand(about 5 min). Bring stock to boil and then add roux a bit at time whipping to avoid lumps until desired thickness is reached. Gravy will need to come to a boil to realize how thick it will be.

Another tip - day before your big turkey dinner you can prepare the above gravy and then the day you cook your turkey once cooking is complete remove turkey from roasting pan and wrap with foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving. Drain off the liquid that is left in roasting pan leaving behind any caramelized bits and then add your gravy from above and deglaze your pan with it imparting all the flavour and coloring from all that caramelized goodness that is left!

Build a repertoire of easy dependable recipes

Learn five or ten recipes really well, so you can make them easily without thinking.  Then add a new recipe to this collection every month or so.  Before you know it you'll have a collection of meals you can turn to when the 5:00 hour hits. Don’t forget to keep the ingredients for those recipes on hand!

Flame Glazed Rotisserie Style Roasted Anaheim Duck

Roasted rotisserie duck is a succulent and crispy dish that can be served to your friends and family for almost any occasion – especially on game day! It’s also one of the best ways to cook a duck as the process allows the generally fatty bird to render off most of the fat and leave a delicious crispy skin.

Preparing the Bird 

  1. Remove duck from packaging and remove any of the giblets, neck and liver.
  2. Remove all the excess fat from the duck. Wash the duck and dry it thoroughly both inside and out with paper towels.
  3. Score the skin in a criss-cross pattern by carefully cutting through the skin but not into the meat so the fat will render off better during cooking. This also helps to acquire that beautiful crispy skin.
  4. Using a sharp metal skewer poke the duck all over the skin but not so deep that it goes into the meat.
  5. Sprinkle the cavity with some kosher salt and cut one orange and one lemon into quarters and place in the cavity of the bird along with a bunch of fresh thyme and a few sprigs of rosemary.
  6. Tie the legs together and tuck the wings in behind them.
  7. Put rotisserie rod through the centre and secure duck on with clamps.


1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons Sriracha Sauce (adjust to taste)
4  garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
One 5 pound young duck
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Preheat oven on convection roast to 450F with rotisserie.

In a small saucepan combine the marmalade, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, honey, soya sauce, Sriracha sauce and rosemary and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Remove sauce from the heat and let cool.

Pour 1/4 cup of the sauce into a small bowl to use for basting the duck. Pour the rest into a small serving bowl for passing at the table.

Place duck on rotisserie and brush skin with a bit of olive oil. Then brush a small amount of the glaze on the skin and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and place in oven.

Leave at high temperature for about 15 minutes then turn oven down to 325F and slow cook for the remainder of the time (approximately 1.5 hours to 2 hours).

During the last 30 minutes baste the duck with the sauce a few times.

Remove duck from oven when internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh reaches 160F.

There will be a large amount of duck fat that renders off of the bird during the cooking process, when finished save this fat to use in other applications such as roasted potatoes, coating poultry for even browning, a substitute for fat in any base for sauces and roasting vegetables.

Turkey Tips

Selecting a Bird – Fresh or Frozen?

A Safe Way to Thaw Your Turkey

Stuffing Your Turkey

If you are going to stuff your bird, do not densely stuff it. In fact you may want to do your stuffing in separate pan and loosely fill the cavity with aromatic ingredients such a chopped onion, garlic, halved lemon, fresh herbs (sage, thyme, basil). 

Click here to watch how Chef Neil from Calgary stuffs a turkey!

Cooking Your Turkey

Approximate Turkey Cooking Times

**A fresh turkey will cook slightly faster than a thawed frozen turkey.

8 to 12 lbs................2.5 to 3 hrs
12 to 14 lbs..............3 to 3.5 hrs
14 to 18 lbs..............3.5 to 4 hrs
18 to 20 lbs...............4 to 4.5hrs
20 to 24 lbs..............4.5 to 5 hrs 

8 to 12 lbs................3 to 3.5 hrs
12 to 14 lbs..............3.5 to 4 hrs
14 to 18 lbs.............4 to 4.25 hrs
18 to 20 lbs........4.25 to 4.75 hrs
20 to 24 lbs........4.75 to 5.25 hrs 

Carving Your Turkey

What can we say....no one carves a turkey like Martha Stewart!  Click here to see how she does it:

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Beer BBQ Sauce



Depending on what type of meat you are grilling you can add things like apple sauce for pork or a few drops of liquid smoke for chicken or maybe apricot puree. Use your own tastes to come up with ingredients that may or may not work. Keep in mind sugars will burn faster and make your sauce taste bitter. The strength and flavour of the beer will be a factor on the finished taste as well.

Braised Pork Side Ribs


2 Racks St. Louis Style Pork Ribs
1 cup water
1 cup apple juice


1½ tablespoons canola oil
½ white onion, diced
½ tablespoon fresh ginger, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
½ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup water
3 ounces tomato paste
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 cup pure maple syrup
1½ tablespoons dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
½ tablespoon kosher salt

In a medium sauce pan heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger, cayenne and black pepper.  Cook until the onion is translucent; add the vinegar, water, tomato paste, soy sauce, sesame oil and maple syrup.  Whisk well, add the thyme, mustard and half of the salt. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

Purée the sauce with a hand blender or run it through an upright blender.  Taste for seasoning and add the rest of the salt if desired.  Use right away, or place in a large covered jar and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Dry rub

¼ cup sweet paprika
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon oregano

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, set aside.


Trim the ribs of any thick slabs of fat and remove the membrane from the underside of the ribs.  The best way to do this is to start cutting with a sharp paring knife. Then using a paper towel to help with your grip, gently peel the membrane from the rib bones.

Generously coat both sides of the racks of ribs with the dry rub and rub it in well.  You may not use all the rub, but you should use most of it. Place the ribs (meaty side up) in a large roasting pan or braising pan, and place in the fridge to marinate for 5-6 hours.

Heat the oven on convection roast to 350F. Place the pan with the ribs in the oven on the middle rack and cook for 30 mins. Then add 1 cup apple juice and 1 cup water to the pan. Cover with tinfoil and allow ribs to braise for about 3 hours or until tender.

Pull the ribs from the oven and set the oven to convection BROIL.

Slather the ribs on both sides with sauce, then place back in the oven and broil until the ribs are bubbling and the sauce is set, about 4-5 minutes.

Pull from the oven and transfer to a cutting board.  Cut into individual ribs and serve, passing extra sauce at the table.

Makes 4 servings

Vegetarian Chili



In large soup pot or dutch oven style pot heat oil over medium high heat; add onions, celery, mushrooms, carrot, zucchini, green pepper, garlic and tomatoes and sauté until soft.  Mix in chilli powder, cumin and onion powder, cook a few more minutes then add frozen corn, black beans, kidney beans, brown beans, chick peas, stewed tomatoes, tomato paste and rice. 

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Check after an hour to make sure the moisture level is okay, if needed add water or tomato juice.  Add Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

For a hotter chili add a chopped jalapeño pepper at the same time as the vegetables.

This will freeze very well so don’t worry if it looks like you are making a lot.

This is a great way to use up stuff in your fridge that has to be used soon.  Go ahead and empty bits of this and that; 3 tbsp of leftover salsa that no one has touched in 2 weeks or the few green onions in the drawer.  There are no rules so experiment and enjoy!

Yield: 8-10 servings

1917 Coconut Sugar Cookies


½ pound butter
½ pound sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound flour  
1 ¼ tablespoons baking powder
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut


Preheat oven to 325F on convection bake. 

Cream together the butter and sugar mixing well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Add in eggs one at a time, incorporating each one before adding the next. Once mixed add the vanilla.

Add flour, baking powder and coconut and just mix together. Scrape down the dough on the sides and mix a little bit more.

Scoop dough on to greased cookie sheet, flatten slightly, and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for approximately 11 minutes to ever so light golden brown.

Avacado Hummus



Place all ingredients in blender and process till smooth. Taste and then add salt and pepper to adjust flavour. If mixture is too thick add a touch of water to thin.

Serve with toast rounds or pita chips.

Chef Pierre's Pina Colada Sorbet

This one is super duper simple but it requires some prep ahead of time.



Peel your pineapple and cut it into chunks.

Place the chunks of pineapple spread out on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer for at least 3-4 hours to freeze solid. For convenience sake you can transfer the solid frozen chunks of pineapple to a Ziploc baggie where they will keep for months and be ready to use for those last minute cravings.

To make the Pina Colada, fill the blender half way with frozen pineapple chunks.

Shake your coconut milk really well as it tends to separate fats from liquids in the can. Pour the can of coconut milk into the blender with the pineapple and put the lid on.

Remove the centre of the cap and stick in the plunger. You need the plunger to move everything around while it is blending. It’s important to put the least amount of water in to keep it thick and to do that you need the plunger to keep everything moving smoothly.

Start on manual setting on low speed and slowly build up the speed to full while moving the plunger around. When everything is smooth you can scoop out the sorbet and serve it in a chilled glass with a cherry on top.

Blueberry Lime Smoothie



Blend all ingredients together on the smoothie program until smooth and emulsified! Pour into cups and garnish with a mint leaf and lime zest.

Recipes for a Mixed Grill


The following items will all cook for about the same amount of time.

4 pieces of 2 inch thick medallions of Beef Filet Mignon

Mix the ingredients below together and marinade beef for 2½ hours

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in half from end to end so they are thinner and now 4 pieces

Marinate in the following for 2½ hours

4 lamb chops cut to 1½-2 inches

Marinate in the following for 2½ hours

12 large peeled and de-veined shrimp

Marinate in the following for 2 hour then thread onto 6 inch skewers. You can use steel skewers or oak
bamboo if they’ve been soaked in water overnight.


If you have 3 burners then leave one on high, one on medium and
one on low.Preheat your barbecue on high for about 20 minutes.

Start the beef on high to get markings on one side then move to medium burner for the other side.

In the meantime start your chicken and lamb on the high burner and then just keep moving them over to the cooler spots as they finish cooking.

Finally, place shrimp on the high burner last and when they are done everything will be ready to go to the plate!

Rotisserie Style Roast Sirloin


Seasoning rub, store bought rub or you can make your own. Here’s what you need:


Preheat your barbecue using the rear burner to medium high for 15-20 minutes.

Mix all above ingredients in a bowl. Roll the whole roast in the rub in the bowl using your hands. Rub in the ingredients really well so it begins to absorb into the meat.

For rotisserie cooking remove the grates from the barbecue and place a pan under where the roast will be. Place the meat on the rotisserie spit after oiling the spit well. Then place the spit on the barbecue connecting it to the rotisserie motor and allow roast to slowly cook with the rear burner at the same heat or turn down to medium.

Once the optimum internal temperature is reached, remove roast and wrap with foil leaving the spit in. Let rest for 10 mins then remove the spit, carve and serve.

Internal Temperature Guide:

Strawberry Almond Trail Mix Bars



Mix date and cherry purees with vanilla and honey. Set aside. In large bowl, mix all remaining ingredients. Mix puree into dry mix thoroughly (by hand works best). Press mixture firmly into a 21 x 13 inch pan, cover with parchment paper, wrap tightly, and refrigerate 1 hour before cutting.

Tropical Trail Mix Bars



Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. 

In a heavy saucepot over melt medium heat, melt butter with corn syrup and maple syrup.  When hot, add marshmallows and stir over medium heat until marshmallows are completely melted. 

Carefully pour hot marshmallow mix over dry mix and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon. 

Press into a greased 21” x 13” pan and refrigerate 1 hour before cutting.

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