Root Vegetable Terrine

Root Vegetable Terrine

Photo by Caroline West

Potato pave, terrine, gratin — it’s all the same: layers of thinly sliced potato laced with cream, butter, a hint of cheese and baked until fork tender. In this recipe, I’ve alternated new potatoes with sweet potato for a striking presentation. Simple, decadent and well worth the splurge.

The process is perfectly straight forward but best suited to those blessed with patience in the kitchen — and a mandoline or vegetable slicer. If you enjoy the challenge of tile work or jigsaw puzzles, you’re going to enjoy assembling this terrine.

Once the terrine is made, it can be baked, cooled and kept in the refrigerator for days. The terrine can be reheated in its container or sliced as needed and placed in a hot pan until the edges are crisp and the center warm.

This recipe was inspired by a picture of Pommes Anna (a layered potato pie) found in the beautiful book, The Food of France: A Journey for Food Lovers.

Serves 10 – 12


  • 3 lb new or Yukon Gold potatoes, about 6 potatoes, peeled, rinsed, and held in cold water
  • 12 ounces of sweet potato, about 1 large, peeled and rinsed
  • ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
sweet potato and potatoes

Photo by Caroline West

  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup 35% whipping cream
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • Earthenware terrine mould approximately 11” x 3 ½”
  • Parchment paper, cut to fit the mould

Preheat oven to 350°F

Brush the mould with melted butter (this helps the parchment stick to the mould). Line the mould with the parchment, leaving an overhang of a few inches. The excess parchment will help you remove the potatoes from the mould in one perfect piece.

Thinly slice one potato and one sweet potato approximately 1/16” thick using a mandoline, vegetable cutter or sharp knife. Slice more potatoes as you work or, if you wish to slice them all at once, keep them covered with water to prevent them from oxidizing and turning dark. Pat them dry before assembling the terrine.

To make sure the potatoes fit snuggly along the terrine edges, cut some of the sliced potatoes in half and place the straight sides against the terrine’s edge. This will help keep the layers uniform.

layering the terrine

Photo by Caroline West

Brush the potatoes with a thin layer of melted butter. (You will need to re-heat the butter now and then to keep it from firming.)

Layer the terrine (as follows), pressing on the terrine now and then to ensure the layers are firm, otherwise it will not hold its shape. Note: only the sweet potato layer is seasoned with salt to prevent the terrine from becoming over-salted.

Place 3 layers of potato slices, each brushed with a thin layer of melted butter, into the bottom of the terrine.
Drizzle third potato layer with 1 Tbsp cream and sprinkle evenly with 1 ½ teaspoons of Parmesan cheese.
Add 1 layer of sweet potato, brush with a thin layer of melted butter and sprinkle evenly with a pinch of Kosher salt.
Repeat until the terrine is filled.

Bake the terrine, covered, in the oven for one hour. Remove the cover and continue baking until the potatoes are tender when tested with a knife.

pouring cream over terrine

Photo by Caroline West

Allow the terrine to cool slightly and pour off the excess butter and cream before removing the potatoes from the mould. Carefully lift the parchment and potatoes from the mould and transfer to a platter, discarding the parchment. The terrine can be served immediately or cooled, wrapped and refrigerated for up to five days.

The terrine can be reheated in a warm oven or sliced and seared in a hot non-stick skillet until the edges are crisp and the centre warmed through.



Minestrone with Pistou

Minestrone Soup

Photo by Caroline West

I love Minestrone soup but ordering it in a restaurant is dicey. Often the broth is too weak or tomato-y for my taste and if pasta is added, it’s soggy beyond recognition.

I prefer a robust broth made from tomatoes and roasted chicken stock. I’ve infused mine with Kielbasa sausage and a generous chunk of Parmesan rind. The rind has loads of flavour and the sausage imparts a smoky, garlicky punch that’s anything but timid.

Pasta is cooked separately and added to each bowl just before the hot soup is ladled over it.

I like lots of last-minute, fresh garnishes on my soup: chopped basil or raw spinach, shaved or grated Parmesan cheese and a generous dollop of “pistou,” a pesto-like sauce updated with piquant jalapeño peppers, shallots, lime and cilantro.

This soup packs a lot of flavour and gets even better over a day or two. It’s worth making a big batch.

Originally published in Eat Magazine’s Sept/Oct 2011 issue.

Serves 12 – 14


  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more as needed
  • ½ small green cabbage, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 10 cups roasted chicken or beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 – 1½ lb smoky Kielbasa sausage
  • 4 ripe tomatoes or one can (14.5 ounces) plum tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups dry navy beans, soaked and precooked or one can (9 ounces)
  • 1 bundle of fresh thyme and parsley stems, tied with kitchen string
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Parmesan rind, optional but strongly recommended


  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 – 2 jalapeño peppers, sliced in half (no need to remove seeds)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large bunch cilantro, washed, stems removed
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
  • juice from 1 lemon or lime
  • salt to taste


  • 1 ½ cups small pasta shells, cooked
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach or basil, chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper, optional

In a large pot, sauté onions and bacon in oil until the onions are translucent and the bacon is cooked through. Add the cabbage and sauté it at medium-high heat until the cabbage takes on a bit of colour. (The browning of the cabbage adds to the flavor.) Add the garlic, carrots and celery and mix well. If your pan is dry, add additional oil to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Alternatively, if there appears to be excess oil or rendered bacon fat in the pan, remove it with a spoon. Once the vegetables are sautéed lightly, add the stock, Kielbasa, tomatoes, cooked beans, herbs, bay leaves and Parmesan rind (if using).
Simmer the soup until the cabbage and the carrots are just tender, but not overcooked. Adjust the seasoning with additional salt, if required. Remove the herb bundle and bay leaves.


In a food processor, purée the raw shallot, hot peppers, cherry tomatoes, lemon or lime juice and cilantro. Add the oil in a slow steady stream. The sauce should be quite piquant; add additional lime juice and salt to taste.

Just before serving the soup, remove the sausage and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Add a few pieces of sausage and a spoonful of freshly cooked pasta to heated soup bowls. Ladle the hot soup over the sausage and pasta, and to each serving, add a generous spoonful of pistou, shaved Parmesan and freshly chopped raw spinach or basil. Add freshly ground pepper, if desired.



Shiitake Dumpling Soup

Consommé with Shiitake dumpling

My friend, chef Akemi Akutsu, taught Japanese cooking classes at French Mint. While rolling sushi and pleating gyoza dumplings, she shared stories of her life in Japan. Her family grew Shiitake mushrooms so school breaks were spent planting hundreds of Shiitake stems. She recalled neighbourhood parties where freshly picked Shiitakes were pan-fried over an open fire and served with soy sauce and butter. Akemi’s childhood was entirely food-centered; she was taught to brandish a cleaver and chop chickens before learning to write and has the scars from a reattached finger to prove it.

This dumpling recipe comes from Akemi’s family who own a restaurant in Tochigi, the dumpling capital of Japan.  They serve these dumplings in traditional gyoza fashion, pan-fried and steamed with a dipping sauce of soy sauce and rice vinegar.

I love these dumplings in soup, specifically a sparking consommé.

6 cups chicken consommé or very clear stock
2 pieces of ginger, about 1″ each
1 stalk lemongrass, bottom 4 inches only, bruised with the back of a knife
2 cloves garlic, peeled, bruised with the side of a knife and left whole
12 pork and shrimp dumplings (recipe below)
1 green onion, sliced

In a saucepan simmer the consommé with the ginger, lemongrass and garlic for about 30 minutes.  Check the seasoning; if you prefer a more pronounced ginger or garlic flavour, leave the aromatics in the consommé for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the ginger, lemongrass and garlic.

Just before serving, plunge the dumplings into simmering water* until cooked through, about two minutes. Transfer the cooked dumplings to the warm consommé and garnish with spring onions.

*If you’re wondering why I cook the dumplings in water, rather than the consommé, it’s because I don’t want to risk a rogue dumpling bursting and sabotaging my efforts. Once you’ve made homemade consommé, you’ll understand how crazy you can get about keeping your soup clear.

Shiitake Dumplings

There’s no way to make just a few dumplings; this recipe makes about 3 dozen (!) and yes, they freeze beautifully.

5 oz of ground pork
5 oz peeled and chopped shrimp
1 cup finely chopped Napa cabbage
8 chopped Shittake  mushrooms, stems removed
1 spring onion, finely chopped, including green part
1 tsp each finely grated ginger and garlic
1 tsp each salt and white pepper
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp sesame oil
36 gyoza wrappers

Combine all but the gyoza wrappers in a bowl and mix together.

Place a small spoonful of the mixture in the middle of a gyoza wrapper.  Dab a little water around the wrapper’s edge then fold the wrapper in two to encase the filling and create a semi-circle. Pinch or pleat the sides together and repeat with the balance of the dumplings.

Place the dumplings on a floured-dusted baking sheet.  Set aside enough for the consommé and freeze what you’re not using. (Freeze on a tray until firm, then transfer to freezer bags.)




Carrot & Orange Soup

Carrot & Orange Soup

You know your soup is good when you’re enjoying it cold from the refrigerator in the Tupperware container you stored it in.  It’s even better served warm.

Carrot soup is pretty tame, some might say boring, until it’s cheered up with freshly grated spicy ginger, freshly squeezed orange juice and acidic tomatoes.  Now, that’s a soup with personality!

If you prefer a silky smooth-textured soup, as I do, pour the finished soup through a fine-mesh strainer.  It’s a simple technique that gives puréed soups a luxurious texture, especially when finished with a bit of cream.

Serves 4 – 6

  • 1 tablespoon butter or mild-tasting oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 pounds carrots, about 7 medium, chopped
  • 1 cup diced ripe tomatoes or, if not in season, canned
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice, plus zest from half an orange
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely grated ginger (a microplane is ideal for this)
  • 3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cream

Melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Add the onions and cook over low heat until translucent and tender.  Add the carrots, tomatoes, orange juice, ginger and only 2 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender, approx. 30 minutes.

Pour the vegetables and liquid into a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Process until smooth.

Photo by Caroline West

If you prefer a very smooth-textured soup, pour the finished soup through a fine-mesh strainer (pictured), pressing any remaining solids against the strainer with the back of a spoon.

Return the soup to the pot and reheat. Add only enough chicken stock to reach the desired consistency — you may not need it all.  Add the salt and taste the soup — you may need more salt, depending on your chicken stock.

Add the cream, but be careful not to boil the soup once the cream has been added.

Serve in heated bowls with a dollop of sour cream, yogurt or creme fraise, if desired.

Pita Chips

Using a knife or scissors, split open a pita pocket and cut into wedges. Place the wedges onto a baking sheet, and brush the coarse side of each piece with a little vegetable oil and sprinkle with a bit of Kosher salt.  Bake at 360 F until golden around the edges.


Spicy Thai Noodle Soup

Spicy Thai Noodle Soup

When the weather’s at odds with the season, this light, yet comforting, soup hits the spot.

The aromatic Thai-flavoured broth is made of fish stock and coconut milk steeped with ginger, garlic, and lemongrass. Sidestripe shrimp, rice noodles, and broccoli make for a soup that’s so heartening, you might even forget it’s raining.

I prepare the vegetables and rice noodles separately so there’s no risk of overcooked vegetables or mushy noodles. Everything but the shrimp can be cooked in advance, making this an ideal company dish, rain or shine.

Note – If your grocer doesn’t carry a full selection of Thai ingredients (lemongrass, lime leaves, fish sauce, etc), you’ll be sure to find them at your favourite Asian market.

Serves 4

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound of raw shrimp, shells reserved for the stock
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves minced garlic, about 1 1/2 tsp
2 Tbsp minced ginger, about 1 1/2” chunk
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
2 Tbsp red curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen)
2 – 12 oz [400 ml] cans coconut milk (regular, not “light”)
2 pieces lemongrass, lower three inches, sliced in half and bruised with the dull-side of a knife
4 kaffir lime leaves, each torn in half
2 cups fish (vegetable or chicken) stock
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
4 ounces rice noodles
3/4 cup blanched vegetables* (broccoli, carrots, or bok choy)
Bunch fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
lime slices, for finishing the soup

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add the prawn shells, shallots, garlic, ginger, jalapeño pepper, and curry paste. Stir for about two minutes, being mindful not to burn the mixture. If your coconut milk has separated (with thick cream rising to the top), add only the thick cream to the curry paste mixture. If the coconut milk has not separated, use about ½ cup of the the liquid. Simmer until the oil starts to separate and pools on the surface of the spice mixture.

Add the remaining coconut milk, lemongrass, lime leaves, stock, fish sauce, lime juice, and brown sugar. Simmer for about 20 minutes, then strain the mixture into a clean pot. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional lime or fish sauce, if desired.

Place the rice noodles in boiling water until just softened, about 2-3 minutes.  Drain and rinse in cold water to prevent overcooking.

Just before serving, bring the soup to a simmer.  Add the prawns and cook just until they’re no longer translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the blanched vegetables and rice noodles to reheat.

Transfer to warmed soup bowls and garnish each serving with cilantro leaves. Serve with fresh lime wedges for guests to add as they wish.

* To blanch vegetables, place them in rapidly boiling, heavily salted water until crisp-tender. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice cold water to retain the colour and prevent overcooking.