All posts by Darina Kopcok

8-Minute Garlic and Parmesan Pan-Fried Shrimp

This dish embodies the spirit and heart of Italian cuisine; fresh, simple ingredients with a few key flavours like garlic and oregano. Pan-frying the shrimp with lots of Parmesan gives this dish wonderful contrasting texture.

Perfect for a light summer lunch, finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and serve with chunk of toasted ciabatta bread slightly dipped in a good quality olive oil.

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Garlic and Parmesan Pan-Fried Shrimp

Prep Time: 4 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 dozen shrimp, deveined, head removed and tail on
1/4 cup olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper
Handful finely chopped basil leaves
Zest of one lemon + juice
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, divided

Directions:
1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic, lemon zest and chopped basil to combine.
2. Add shrimp and 1/2 Parmesan, and toss well with hands to coat.
3. Heat pan on maximum heat, add shrimp and cook each side until pink, about 3 to 4 minutes total.
4. Remove from heat and squeeze lemon juice on top; cover with the rest of the Parmesan and serve immediately with slices of toasted ciabatta or baguette.

Chicken, Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

This creamy chicken, spinach and ricotta-filled pasta is packed with a flavourful tomato sauce and walnut pieces for some crunch. With its cheesy, crisp crust on top and moist and tender interior,  you can’t go wrong with this satisfying baked pasta dish.

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Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
28 oven-ready cannelloni shells
1 pound ground chicken
1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
6 cups fresh spinach
1 small onion, finely diced
2 large cloves garlic
3 Tbsp olive oil
pinch nutmeg
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 cup grated 4-cheese blend, divided
½ cup walnut pieces

For the Cream Sauce:
2 cups whole milk
1 cup cream
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Pinch nutmeg
¾ cups grated Asiago cheese

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Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large skillet, brown the ground chicken until cooked through and drain any water or extra fat. Add browned meat to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
2. In the same skillet, heat olive oil on medium high and sauté onion until golden brown. Add garlic to skillet and sauté for 1 minute. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Season with the salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.
3. Add onions, garlic and spinach to bowl and allow to cool slightly before mixing ricotta through to incorporate. Mix in walnut pieces.
4. Make cream sauce by melting butter over medium-low heat in a saucepan. Take off the heat and whisk in flour. Heat milk and cream in a separate saucepan or in the microwave, and slowly whisk into butter and flour mixture. Raise heat to medium-high and bring to a light boil, whisking occasionally. Incorporate salt, pepper and Asiago cheese, and set aside.
5. Pour ⅓ of the sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 9” casserole or oven-proof dish.
6. Stuff half the cannelloni shells using an icing bag or a spoon and place in 2 rows on the bottom of the casserole. Cover with ½ of remaining sauce and ½ of 4-cheese blend. Repeat with the rest of the cannelloni, sauce and 4-cheese blend.
7. Cover with tin foil and place on a pan to catch any possible drips. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes, until cheese is golden brown and bubbling.
8. Let cannelloni cool for about 15 minutes before cutting into 6 sections and serving.

Breakfast Tostadas with Egg, Chorizo & Bean Mash

These breakfast tostadas make no pretence of being truly authentic but they’re full of flavour and a mélange of textures, which is homage to this great and inimitable cuisine. They’re definitely a step up from the typical bacon and eggs combo that I’ve always looked forward to on weekends, and they really don’t take much more effort than that if you have the ingredients on hand.

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Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 7 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
8 eggs
2 chorizo sausages
8 tostadas
5½ ounces (150 grams) black beans
2 avocados
2 green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp salt
3 Tbsp water
4 Tbsp feta or other soft, crumbly cheese
¼ tsp spanish paprika
½ tsp coriander
¼ tsp salt
? tsp pepper
Handful of cilantro, stems removed, chopped
¼ cup sour cream, to garnish
1 lime, cut into wedges

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Directions:
1. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan on medium heat and chop the chorizo into small pieces. Add chorizo and cook until it begins to crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towel.
2. Blend the beans, water, paprika, coriander, salt and pepper in a food processor until thick and creamy. Add more water if necessary to achieve the consistency of cream cheese. Stir in green onion.
3. Beat together the eggs seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper. Scramble over medium-low heat, tossing in the chorizo when just about done.
4. Spread some of the black bean mash onto the tostadas and top with the scrambled egg, feta, and avocado. Garnish with sour cream and lots of cilantro and serve with wedges of lime.

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Darina Kopcok Darina Kopcok is a food writer and photographer based in Vancouver, BC. She writes the blog Gratinée, for which she also develops, styles and shoots each recipe. In addition to photographic training from Langara College, she holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia. She has a passion for Italian cuisine and French culinary technique. Darina Kopcok is part of the Lifestyle Blog Network  family.

Gluten-Free White Chocolate Cake with Coconut

This flourless, white chocolate cake is rich, moist and custardy — and the crunch of the coconut makes the perfect complement in terms of taste and texture. Perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth who’s avoiding gluten — or who just loves a deliciously decadent cake.

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Gluten-Free White Chocolate Cake with Toasted Coconut

Ingredients:

300 grams good quality white chocolate
8 eggs, whites and yolks separated
1/4 cup (60 ml) butter, melted
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
1/3 cup (40 grams) coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the icing:
1 1/2 cup (200 grams) icing sugar
1 can coconut milk, refrigerated
1/4 cup (60 ml) butter

For the topping:
2 1/2 cups large flake coconut

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Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325F°. Grease a 9-inch (22 cm) springform pan and line it with parchment paper. Mold aluminum foil on the bottom and up the sides to prevent possible leaks. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. Allow to cool.
2. Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Beat in sugar, one tablespoon at a time; continue to beat until thick and glossy.
3. Beat egg yolks in a large mixing bowl until creamy; add salt and vanilla extract. Slowly beat in the melted butter, followed by the melted chocolate.
4. Fold egg whites into the egg yolks and chocolate with a rubber spatula until incorporated; take care not to overblend.
5. Place springform pan in the middle of a roasting pan and fill the pan with boiling water until it reaches halfway up the side. Place in the oven and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick placed in the centre comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
6. To make the icing, separate the coconut cream from the water and beat it together with butter and icing sugar.
7. Toast coconut at 300°F for about 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden. Turn cake upside down onto a cake stand and peel off parchment. Spread icing over top and sides of cake and top with coconut.

Darina Kopcok Darina Kopcok is a food writer and photographer based in Vancouver, BC. She writes the blog Gratinée, for which she also develops, styles and shoots each recipe. In addition to photographic training from Langara College, she holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia. She has a passion for Italian cuisine and French culinary technique.

Darina Kopcok is part of the Lifestyle Blog Network  family.

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Gratinée’s Seared Lemon-Pepper Beef Carpaccio

This Seared Lemon-Pepper Beef Carpaccio served with a handful of baby arugula and slivers of Pecorino Romano with garlic aioli and slices of toasted Ciabatta bread, literally it took minutes to make.
The one caveat about simple food is that you really do need the best quality ingredients you can find. There is no hiding with elaborate sauces and cooking methods.

You will need a nice chunk of beef tenderloin (fillet). Don’t attempt it with an inferior cut of meat. Make sure you put it in the freezer for a couple of hours before searing; even though the heat will defrost the outside, it will be easier to slice in very thin pieces, which is what you want.

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Ingredients:
(Serves 2)
5-ounce piece of beef tenderloin
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon pepper*
1/2 Tablespoon salt
Handful of rosemary leaves
Pecorino Romano cheese (or Parmesan)
Baby arugula
1 Tablespoon capers

For the aioli:
1 large egg yolk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice, more to taste
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper

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Directions:

  1. Finely chop the rosemary leaves and spread on a clean cutting board to mix with the salt and lemon pepper. Rub the olive oil on the outside of the meat and press into the salt mixture.
  2. Heat a cast iron pan on the stove on maximum heat. Sear the tenderloin on each side for one minute–until just brown; immediately remove from pan and place back onto the cutting board. Holding the meat with tongs, slice very thinly with a sharp chef’s knife and press each piece with the backside of the knife to thin it down further. Arrange on a platter.
  3. To make the aioli, press garlic into the egg yolk with a fork to develop the flavour; add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Whisk a few drops of olive oil into the egg yolk until it starts to thicken and emulsify. Continuing to whisk, start pouring the rest of the oil in a very slow and thin stream until the aioli is completely thickened.
  4. Garnish carpaccio with capers, thinly grated slivers of cheese and a couple handfuls of arugula. Add small dollops of aioli and serve the rest on the side.

* lemon pepper is a seasoning of cracked black peppercorns and granulated lemon zest and can be found where you might buy better qualitiy spices

Darina Kopcok Darina Kopcok is a food writer and photographer based in Vancouver, BC. She writes the blog Gratinée, for which she also develops, styles and shoots each recipe. In addition to photographic training from Langara College, she holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia. She has a passion for Italian cuisine and French culinary technique.

Darina Kopcok is part of the Lifestyle Blog Network  family.

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