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Christmas Turkey Enchiladas - spicy leftover delight · 5.01.16 by colin newell

I am a huge fan of authentic Mexican cuisine – can’t get enough of it but I am humble enough to admit that, apart from nachos, I have never learned to cook very much of it at home. Now admittedly, some of the cuisine is pretty complicated and filled with steps – but many, if not all, of the ingredients are readily available locally. So, get out there and give this one a whirl. You can use chicken, beef, pork, some kinds of fish I would imagine, or beans for a vegetarian approach. Let’s get busy.


2 cups cooked shredded Turkey (I have used leftover Christmas turkey breast meat)
1 large red onion, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup lo-fat sour cream
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 small (284ml) cans enchilada sauce (La Victoria is my go to)
3 cups shredded cheese (tex-mexican blend)
1 small tin mild green chiles (diced)
Tablespoon of Cumin
Tablespoon of Chile powder
10 flour tortillas

Prepping Turkey Enchiladas

Preparing your ingredients

Chop the onion and parsley, and shred the Turkey.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Step One Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, stirring all the while.

Step Two Add the turkey to the onions in the frying pan. Add Cumin and Chile powder and stir until combined.

Step Three Pour about 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce over the turkey and onion mixture.

Step Four Add sour cream and parsley. Add diced chiles – stir until combined.

Step Five Once all the ingredients are fully combined, turn off the heat. now add the shredded cheese. I usually add 2 heaping cups. Mix to combine.

Once the cheese is melted and combined with the Turkey sour cream mixture, taste it, and see if it needs anything else – like additionally seasoning or more sauce.

Step Six Now it is time to fill the tortillas and make the enchiladas. pour just enough sauce in a baking dish to cover the bottom of the dish.

Step Seven Take each tortilla and spoon some sauce on the tortilla coating the entire side that will hold the turkey mixture. Then spoon on some of the turkey mixture.

Step Eight Roll up the tortilla and place it in the baking dish.

Repeat steps to make enough tortillas to fill your baking dish, or until the Turkey mixture is all used up.

Step 9 Pour enchilada sauce over the completed enchiladas. spread it evenly over the top.

Step 10 Top with more shredded cheese and garnish with chopped parsley.

Hot out of the oven! Turkey enchiladas.

Now they are ready to place in the oven. cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Since the turkey is pre-cooked, you only need to bake them long enough for the sauce to start bubbling, tortilla edges are slightly crisp, and the cheese is melted.

We serve with homemade guacamole and a suitable salsa – you can make the salsa yourself if you are so inclined. These yummy enchiladas are great with your favourite strong beer!
This dish can make 10 to 12 single serve enchiladas. Plenty for leftovers!


Butternut squash soup with vegan option · 3.01.16 by colin newell

Hearty Butternut Squash Soup

Winter is the best time of the year for hearty vegetarian soup with the option of adding some animal protein if you are so inclined – either way, these are filling and healthy soups during the winter months – here is how we brew up one of our favourites.

Dice 1 medium butternut squash
Dice 1 red pepper
Dice 1 medium onion

Toss together and split between two baking sheets.
Cover each sheet with parchment paper. Divide the veg between the two equally.

Sprinkle tablespoon of Olive oil over each pan and then salt and pepper to your
own preferences.

Mix together elements on each pan.

Get 4 slices of double smoked bacon (optional) sliced into lardons
and then sprinkle over top of the mixture.

Take one garlic, break it into cloves, leaving in their own paper
and divide them equally between the two pans.

Put into 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, toss at half way point.

Get out a big dutch oven bringing it up to medium heat.

Take the two pans out of the oven, removing cloves of garlic and set aside.

Take both veg mixtures less the parchment paper and dump into dutch oven.
Put in a couple of tablespoons of fresh thyme.

Squeeze out the garlic from their bulb into the dutch oven.

Add 2 1/2 to 3 cup of Chicken or Vegetable broth – stirring occasionally
while bringing to boil. Once it reaches the boil, turn off heat and get out your
immersion blender and blend it to your desired consistency.

Add more stock if you want a thinner soup. Return to heat and
take to boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Serve with bread.


A great big slice of Italian passion in Victoria B.C. - Il Covo Trattoria · 18.09.15 by colin newell

Il Covo Trattoria James Bay - Italian spirit in Victoria B.C. Canada

My wife and I have a few go-to places for celebrating special occasions – like Fridays, or a Wedding Anniversary, a successful shopping trip or the first rainy day in September after a long drought.

And considering that Victoria B.C. is a city flush with imaginative restaurants, there are really only a handful (in my estimation) of food places that consistently deliver passion, authenticity, love and great taste in equal measure.

Il Covo Trattoria at 106 Superior Street in James Bay near Fishermans Wharf is one of those places. I have a soft spot for Italian cuisine (my mother grew up in an Italian enclave in Montreal in the 30’s and 40’s…) and I was raised on rustic interpretations of Northern Italian classics. So, it’s in my blood and in my memories. And if your momma cooked Italian, getting that experience in a restaurant is a tall order.

Il Covo Trattoria seems to make it effortless. Their location in historic James Bay – Victoria, not far from Fishermen’s Wharf and a short walk from the Inner Harbour and some of the cities finest hotels could be just as easily located in the heart of New York City, Rome or Montreal. Passing through the grand entrance into the care of the hostess, one is transformed into another time and place. A big part of a restaurants charm is unquestionably its ambiance and Il Covo has certainly nailed the European experience.

Ii Covo is large enough for expansive families and intimate enough for couples on an important or romantic date. Service is attentive, informed and engaged without being worrisome. What I love about the eating experience here is the dedication to authenticity and focus on regional ingredients – all impeccably fresh and balanced according to the season.

Andrea and I started our culinary adventure with a martini and one of Il Covo’s brilliant Northern Italian inspired cocktails.

Il Covo - James Bay - Victoria - click on IMAGE for large view

Our opener from Chef was a salad of rare tuna, chick peas and arugula – perfectly tart and balanced to set the palate up for our mains.

Click on Map Photo for the Big View

This evening my wife had the signature Lasagna – which she rates as the best in North America – and trust me, she has sampled this straight forward dish from coast to coast. I had the Papardelle pasta with Prawns and fresh asparagus in a Pernod sauce – delicious, fresh and so satisfying.

If you have room for any dessert, the cakes, creme brulee, panna cotta and tiramisu are amazing – I know. I have had them all. Coffee is great too!

Il Covo, for us, is a place filled with love of family, friends and dedication to the most positive food experience – it is as close to eating in an Italian village as you can get without actually being there. Top marks to the Il Covo team! Bravo!


Victoria home cooking - Slow roasted garlic and tomato marinara · 30.08.15 by colin newell

Home cooking Victoria B.C. Marinara sauce

As Fall and harvest comes upon us, it is time to start making some of those tasty sauces that we will start enjoying throughout the fall.

Most of our best tomatoes are now ready and they are being converted to sauce for pasta dishes in the future. One of our favourite building block sauces: Marinara – it cannot be beat. It scales up well and you can add nothing to it or your favourite protein.

Let’s go!

Necessary ingredients: Tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt and ground black pepper, 1 medium onion,
2 medium celery ribs, 1 medium green bell pepper, basil, oregano, fennel seeds, chili flakes, 1/2 cup red wine or vegetable stock,2 bay leaves, 2 Tablespoon tomato paste, bunch of fresh parsley…

Take 3 pounds of Roma tomatoes.

Boil some water. Trim the stem end of each tomato and then cut a 1/4” X at the blossom/stem end.
Drop the tomatoes a few at a time into the boiling water for 60 to 90 seconds OR until the skin starts to loosen. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes to a bowl to cool for a few minutes.

Pull the skin off of each tomato.

Preheat your oven to 225 degrees (F).
Line one or more large baking pans with parchment paper.

Cut all of the tomatoes in half. Set a fine sieve over a bowl. Squeeze out all the seeds over on and onto the sieve. Keep the juice that comes out! We will use this later.

Place these tomatoes onto the parchment paper.
Mix together 1/4 cup of olive oil and 3 to 5 garlic cloves crushed and minced.
Paint this oil/garlic mixture onto the tomatoes. Put a twist of fresh ground pepper and salt onto each of the tomatoes.
Roast the tomatoes on the parchment paper in the oven for 2 hours.

Put all of these roast tomatoes into a bowl and add the reserve juice from the earlier seed removal.
Puree this mix with a hand mixer to medium fine puree eliminating all the lumps and clumps. Personal preference kicks in around here.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot. Add onion (diced), celery (diced) and bell pepper (diced).
Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.
Add 1 teaspoon or more of basil (fresh or dried) and oregano (fresh if you have it), a 1/4 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds (use a rolling pin — releases the aromatics), a pinch of chili flakes and cook for another minute.

Added the pureed tomatoes, wine or stock, bay leaf and tomato paste and simmer, stirring occasionally for 35 minutes or so.

Discard Bay leaves and add chopped parsley (1/4 cup chopped)

Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Makes around 10 cups of sauce.

Bon apetit! This is one of our favourites and mirrors one of our all time favourite sauces from Victoria restaurant Zambri’s. Original recipe by Eric Akis of the Times Colonist.


Grilled spicy Lamb burgers on the old Weber · 1.07.15 by colin newell

Grilled Lamb burgers on the old Weber

Andrea and I made these from fresh ground Island lamb and fresh herbs from the garden – much like regular beef burgers but with a kick – and they are lamb.

They are around 3/4” thick – I grilled them at around 375 to 425 for 5 minutes on the first side
and 2 minutes on the second side.


1½ pounds ground lamb
2 tablespoons tightly packed finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon moroccan spice mix
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

4 kaiser rolls, split
Thinly sliced red onion

2 tablespoons mayonaise
2 heaping teaspoons fresh mint sauce

Served with lettuce and red onion – and any salad on the side you might desire.

Grill with crumbled feta on top.

Pairs well with a robust Red wine.

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Dinner hour - Bucatini All'Amatriciana · 31.05.15 by colin newell

Bucatini Alla Matriciana

This is one of my wife’s favourite meals at a local restaurant named Zambri’s – using our own tomatoes from the garden as well as many other fresh ingredients, we created the Marinara (which is basically Tomatoes, onions, finely diced celery, carrots, 1/2 cup of red wine, garlic etc – full recipe to follow). The Marinara is the foundation for many classic Italian recipes and we will give it its own blog entry shortly!

1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 oz. thinly sliced pancetta (or bacon)
1/2 red onion – cut lengthwise in half – and 1/4” half moons
2 teaspoons mince garlic
1 heaping teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups home made marinara sauce
freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
2 servings Bucatini pasta

Put water on to boil with salt
Meanwhile in a saute pan combine olive oil, pancetta, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes.
Cook over medium low until the onion is softened and the pancetta has rendered much of its fat – about 12 to 15 minutes.

Drain away all but 1/4 cup of the fat from the pan.
Add the marinara sauce.
Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer.
Allow to simmer for 6 – 7 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, cook the Bucatini in boiling water for about 12 minutes or as directed by pasta cooking instructions – looking for “very firm” – drain.
Add the pasta to the simmering sauce and toss for about 1 minute to coat.

Divide the pasta among the plates (two servings) dress with grated cheese.


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