Wednesday, December 22, 2010

dreaming of spending the holidays in italy - recipe: veal tenderloin stuffed with leeks, sausage & chevre

Winter in Italy. That simple three-word phrase sounds just divine. I wish I could say that I was about to fly off to Europe for an extended winter holiday but sadly, this is not so.

However, I can at least try to pretend that I’m in Italy through my culinary adventures. Winter in Italy was the name of a cooking class taught by the very talented Pam McDonald several years ago at Dish Cooking Studio in Toronto.

I was an employee at Dish while working my way through chef’s school and I was fortunate enough to work alongside Chef Pam as her assistant in many classes.

One of my favourite classes featured a delectable Italian menu which included a radicchio & chicory salad with sautéed mushrooms & shaved parmesan; scalloped fennel & potatoes, sautéed rapini with pine nuts & raisins, veal tenderloin stuffed with leek, sausage & chevre and pears with sweet mascarpone cheese.

In addition to sharing valuable tips and tricks for the kitchen, Pam suggested a unique entertaining idea involving fresh rosemary: extra sprigs can be tossed into a wood burning fireplace for a delicious, natural, yet oh-so-frugal aroma!

This veal tenderloin would make for a stunning entrée on Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Buon Appetito!

veal tenderloin stuffed with leeks, sausage & chevre
recipe courtesy of Chef Pam McDonald,
owner of “more than food” cooking school in Toronto
(serves 8)


  • 2 (two) tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ (one-and-one-half) lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 3 (three) leeks (white parts and ? green), quartered lengthwise, well-rinsed, dried and sliced
  • 6 (six) oz. soft mild chevre
  • 1 (one) tbsp fresh thyme, washed and chopped
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3-4 (three to four) lb. veal tenderloin
  • 3 (three) cloves garlic
  • 1 (one) zest of lemon
  • 1 (one) cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 (two) tbsp olive oil


  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sausage and sauté, breaking up the meat with a fork, until the meat begins to lose its pink colour. Add the leeks and cook until the leeks are tender and the meat begins to brown, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low and stir in the chevre, breaking it into small pieces. Cook until the chevre melts. Season the stuffing with thyme, salt and pepper.
  • Remove the silverskin and any excess fat from the tenderloin. Slice the tenderloin down the middle and open as you would a book. Place the tenderloin between two pieces of plastic wrap. Pound the meat gently until approximately ¾ (three-quarters) to 1 (one) inch in thickness. Place stuffing on one tenderloin and cover with another tenderloin. Secure by tying with kitchen string. Repeat with remaining tenderloin.
  • Mince the parsley, garlic and lemon zest in a food processor. Drizzle in olive oil. Pat this mixture over the top of the veal. Place on lined pan and roast uncovered for 40 minutes at 450° F.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

brussel sprouts for the holidays - recipe 1: red & green salad - recipe 2: shredded brussels sprouts with bacon and nuts

Tis the season for potlucks, parties and paunches. I’m kidding about the paunches but seriously, if a girl isn’t careful… Which brings me to my point: as much as I love cheese, chocolate and cheese (I love cheese so much that I had to mention it twice), I think that most of us appreciate a few healthy yet delicious menu items, especially at this time of the year.

My Mom has been making this delicious salad for years and its red and green appearance is perfect for holiday entertaining. I didn’t care for it as a kid – Brussels sprouts, cabbage and blue cheese just didn’t appeal to me, but I have certainly grown to love it. This recipe doubles and/or triples easily if you’re feeding a crowd.

red & green salad
from “Pure and Simple” by Marian Burros, 1978
(serves 6)


  • 3 (three) tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 (two) tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1½ (one-and-one-half) tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (one) large clove garlic, pressed
  • ¼ (one-quarter) small head red cabbage, coarsely shredded
  • 10 (ten) raw Brussels sprouts, very thinly sliced
  • 1/3 (one-third) cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2 (two) tablespoons chopped green onion


  • Mix together oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper and garlic.
    Beat or shake to blend well (dressing can be made ahead).
  • Gently stir dressing into cabbage and Brussels sprouts just before serving, along with cheese and green onion.

dana’s tip

If you’re not a fan of blue cheese or cabbage but are willing to give Brussels sprouts a try, consider making this delicious shredded Brussels sprouts recipe which was featured in the LCBO “Food and Drink” magazine a number of years ago. Shredding the Brussels sprouts and cooking them for a short amount of time disguises them – not only in appearance but in taste (they aren’t nearly as strong in flavour as traditional steamed sprouts). I often substitute the pine nuts for whatever I have in my cupboard – think almonds, pecans or walnuts, and I leave out the bacon and nuts altogether if I want to save some calories. As will be the case in January!

shredded brussels sprouts with bacon and nuts
(serves 8)


  • 1½ lbs. (750 g) Brussels sprouts
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) olive oil
  • 6 slices prosciutto or pancetta or regular bacon, chopped
  • ¾ cup (175 mL) pine nuts
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


  • Remove root end and core from Brussels sprouts, cut in half and thinly slice.
  • Heat oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Add bacon. Sauté until beginning to crisp. Add sprouts and sauté for 3 minutes. Cover pan and cook 2 minutes longer or until sprouts are crisp-tender and bright green.
  • Toss in pine nuts, sauté 1 minute and season with salt and pepper.

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