‘Clean out the fridge’ meatball soup

Make a hearty and satisfying meal in less than 30 minutes!

Inspired by classic North American-style Italian meatball soup, this version is fast and flexible. I vary the vegetables depending upon what needs using up in the fridge. Squash or sweet potato are great additions, for example, and you could easily use finely chopped spinach, Swiss chard or bok choy instead of the kale. The soup freezes beautifully though it will thicken as the pasta absorbs more liquid, so you may want to add a bit of stock or water when reheating. You can make your own meatballs (see my recipe at the bottom) or use frozen, fully cooked ones; whichever you choose, add to the soup near the end so they don’t fall apart.

Ingredients

  • 3 dozen small fully cooked Italian meatballs (about 1 inch / 2.5 cm) (see below)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) finely diced onions
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) finely diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) finely diced celery
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) finely diced sweet green or red pepper
  • 6 cups (1.5 L) beef or chicken broth
  • 1 28 oz (828 mL) can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup (250 mL) tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) each dried basil and oregano
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) Worcestershire sauce
  • Pinch hot pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup (250 mL) baby shell pasta or other small pasta (use gluten-free pasta if preferred)
  • 2 cups (500 mL) finely chopped kale
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmesan for serving

Method

  • If making your own meatballs, prepare them first (see recipe below) and put them in the oven to bake. If using frozen, fully cooked meatballs, thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes before starting soup.
  • Heat oil in a large pot, InstantPot, or pressure cooker. Add onions, carrot, celery and diced pepper. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables have softened, 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Add broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasonings. Stir to blend well.
  • Add pasta and cover pot; increase heat in a conventional pot to bring to a boil, then reduce heat so soup is bubbling but not ferociously. If using an InstantPot, close the steam valve and use the soup setting.
  • Check the pasta after 15 minutes (10 minutes if using an InstantPot or pressure cooker) to see if it is approaching al dente (tender but not mushy); when it is, add cooked meatballs and kale. Cover and cook for 5 minutes longer.
  • Serve hot, garnished with freshly grated Parmesan.

Makes 6 servings.

Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (454 g) lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) panko or other fine bread crumbs (use gluten-free if preferred)
  • 1 large shallot, finely minced (or ¼ cup / 60 mL minced onion)
  • 1 teaspoon (15 mL) Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine ground beef, panko, shallot, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, pepper, salt and egg. Mix until combined.
  • Using your hands or a small cookie scoop, shape into 36 small meatballs. Compress them just enough to hold together but avoid packing them too tightly as this will make them a bit tough in texture. Place the prepared meatballs on the parchment-lined baking sheet as you shape them.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Let rest on counter until it is time to add them to the soup.

 

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Elevate your charcuterie game

Unique condiments take boards from ordinary to outstanding!

It seems everywhere I go these days, people are dishing up cheese and charcuterie boards. I think it’s a great trend because it’s a way to cater to lots of different tastes and allow people to graze as little or as much as they like. When I’m designing a board, I try to think about contrasts – of flavour, texture and even visual appearance. I offered a whole bunch of tips about building a better charcuterie or cheese board in a recent Shepherd’s Coffee Talk segment with Marlene Shepherd and Kathie Donovan (which you can watch here), and one of the things I focused on was having unique condiments to add pops of unexpected flavour. Below are links to a few of my favourites (click on the titles to go straight to the recipes), all of which would make great hostess or holiday gifts. Happy entertaining!

Caramelized Onion and Cranberry Chutney

Sweet and spicy candied bacon

Roasted Nuts with Maple, Chili and Rosemary

Crunchy Curried Cauliflower Pickles

curried cauliflower pickles

Grainy maple-whisky mustard

Search the archives on this site for more delicious inspiration for your charcuterie creations!

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Delicious learning at the new Pelican Seafood School of Fish

New classes offer tips and tricks to make preparing fish a breeze!

I feel so lucky to have grown up eating lots of fish thanks to my Maritime heritage. My mom’s skill and my love of being in the kitchen meant I learned how to cook it properly starting from a very young age. The same is not true for everyone, including lots of people I’ve met thanks to my television and magazine work. I’ve been told often that they are frustrated by their lack of knowledge about how to prepare fish and seafood, which Health Canada says we should be eating it at least twice per week. Good news, people of the Ottawa area: The new Pelican Seafood School of Fish is here to help! I attended the trial run of their new cooking class series and if I had to sum it up in just three words, they would be fun, foolproof and fabulously delicious (ok, that’s four words).

Designed to help cooks of all skill levels become more comfortable and successful working with fish and seafood, the Fishy Fundamentals class teach basic seafood shopping know-how and preparation methods while offering up tried and true simple recipes, tips and tricks. I can say from experience that this class can turn even the most timid seafood novice into a confident cook.

Nathan Rogers, executive chef Ben Baird and wine expert Lauren Hayes were engaging and knowledgeable instructors at the School of Fish.

Classes are held in Pelican’s prep kitchen, located onsite at their bustling seafood market and restaurant. They are led by executive chef Ben Baird, two-time medallist at the prestigious Gold Medal Plates competition in Ottawa, supported by oyster and seafood expert Nathan Rogers with wine pairing expertise from Lauren Hayes. For just over an hour and half, our group enjoyed hands-on cooking time while tasting perfectly-paired wines as we socialized with each other and the Pelican team. Ben and Nathan are super knowledgeable and circulated throughout the kitchen constantly, making sure everyone stayed on track.

We were welcomed into the kitchen with glasses of bubbly and soda; seafood towers (including freshly-shucked oysters, tuna tartare, jumbo shrimp and more) were on hand to whet our appetites for the evening’s main event. Individual cooking stations complete with aprons, tools, pans and portable gas burners were set out on the stainless steel worktables, beckoning us to dive into the action.

We learned about selecting oysters then, after a shucking demonstration, we tried our hand at popping the shells open and slurping back the deliciousness inside. I’m a long-time oyster fan but have always left the shucking to my husband; with Ben’s explanation I felt like a pro by the time I opened my second one ever. A few extras were shucked around the table and placed on salt-filled platters, then Ben and Nathan applied a delicious topping to transform them into Oysters Rockefeller which we enjoyed after they had a quick trip into the oven.

Having all the ingredients prepped and measured made the class a joy for everyone as we could focus on the seafood and it kept things moving along at a perfect pace. Our second course was mussels; after learning how to select and clean them, we each cooked some up with our choice of sauces (Thai Curry or white wine and cream) and devoured them with crusty bread and an excellent wine selection.

Scallops and salmon fillets rounding out our cooking and dining experience, the latter two being pan-seared then added to pre-garnished plates. A dish of Pelican’s heavenly maple crème brulee was the perfect sweet finish. To learn so much and enjoy an impressive quantity of delicious food seems like a real win-win. Getting to saunter away without doing any dishes was the icing on the cake for me!

I would love to come back to the School of Fish with my book club or even a group of neighbourhood friends; it would also be perfect for a corporate teambuilding activity. The next three sessions are sold out but there are Fishy Fundamentals classes as well as other delightful offerings now scheduled for the first few months of 2020. Find out more and register on Pelican Seafood Market and Grill’s website.

Note: I was invited to be a guest at the Pelican School of Fish but my opinions, as always, are my own. 

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Paula Roy’s Favourite Foods Season 2, Episode 11 recipes

Playing with pasta: beyond the basics!

If your family is anything like mine, you probably have pasta for dinner a LOT. It’s one of the first solid foods my kids fell in love with as toddlers and for years and years we ate it several times a week. I got pretty tired of the same old pasta and tomato-based sauces so I decided to come up with some new recipes. This episode of Paula Roy’s Favourite Foods on Rogers TV Ottawa showcases three pasta dishes that are a nice change from the ordinary while still being family-friendly. Use your favourite gluten-free pasta if you prefer!

Spaghetti with creamy avocado sauce

If you like guacamole or avocado toast (and even if you don’t), this vegan and vegetarian friendly pasta is sure to be a hit. The best part? It is super fast and easy to prepare.

Orzo with sausage, tomato and zucchini

Did you know there are over 350 different shapes of pasta? Growing up, I only knew about spaghetti, macaroni and lasagne noodles but since then I’ve loved experimenting with lots of different styles of pasta. Orzo – shaped like grains of rice –  is a personal favourite and coming up next I’m going to show you how to make a great stew with it and some other tasty ingredients.

Sausage and vegetables blended with al-dente orzo make a delicious 'meal in a dish'.

Linguine with chicken and creamy pesto sauce

This pasta dish is one my family requests often and I’m happy to oblige because it’s amazingly flavourful and comes together so easily. Here’s a little tip for you: if you’re fortunate to have any leftovers for breakfast the next day, this pasta is absolutely sublime with a poached egg on top.

Use the search function on this site to access the archive of recipes from all episodes of my show and stay tuned for more delicious inspiration as additional new episodes roll out over the weeks ahead.

 

 

 

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Blueberry crumble shortbread cookies

A modern spin on a classic treat!

This recipe is inspired by the thumbprint cookies my Mom made when I was little. In our house, we actually called them thimble cookies because that’s what she used to make the indentations in the dough which were always filled with homemade fruit preserves. I found the combination of buttery cookie and sweet jam absolutely irresistible and it’s one of my favourites to this day. I decided to tinker with the recipe I’ve used forever, which may have come from my grandmother’s kitchen. Turning them into little pie-shaped servings with crumble topping was a stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. I sometimes serve them plated with a scoop of ice cream.

Ingredients

Crumble Topping:

  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) quick (not instant) oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) very cold salted butter

Cookie:

  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour

Topping:

  • 1 cup (250 mL) blueberry jam

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside (skip this step if your baking sheet is rimless like this one).
  • In a medium sized bowl, make crumble topping by stirring together flour, sugar, oats and cinnamon. Grate the cold butter into the mixture and toss until well-blended. Set aside.
  • Make the cookie dough in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or using an electric hand mixer and a large bowl. Beat together the butter and white sugar until fluffy and pale in colour (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add vanilla and mix for 10 seconds.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour, blending until the flour is fully incorporated and the mixture holds together when you pinch a bit of it between your fingertips. The dough will look a bit crumbly – that’s ok!
  • Divide the dough mixture in half. Working with one half at a time, shape it into a disc then flatten on the cookie sheet until it forms a circle about 6 inches (15 cm) across and approximately 1/3 inch (approx. 1 cm) thick. Leave a space between the two discs on the cookie sheet.
  • Spoon half the blueberry jam over each disk, spreading to within 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) of the outer edge. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the jam in an even layer.

  • Bake for 18 – 20 minutes until lightly golden around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheets for 15 minutes before gently transferring to a sturdy wire rack to cool completely.
  • To serve, transfer carefully to a cutting board and with a sharp knife, cut each into 6 or 8 wedges, as you would a pie or pizza.
  • Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days or freeze for longer storage.

Makes 12 – 16 generously-proportioned cookies.

Note: I received baking equipment from All-Clad to test out when preparing this recipe. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. 

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French toast and fruit bake

A tasty twist on a breakfast classic!

We have a LOT of overnight guests in our home so I’m always trying to come up with easy breakfast and brunch ideas. I’m a big fan of these twice-cooked oatmeal squares, these baked bacon and egg bites and these apple-cheddar biscuits but I wanted to try something new. This twist on French toast is super simple to put together and serves up hot and delicious, with a crispy top and silky smooth layers below. You could easily switch up the fruit depending upon what’s in season. You can also assemble this dish the night before and refrigerate; just add a little extra baking time as it will be going into the oven cold. I prefer to simply beat up the egg mixture ahead of time and refrigerate (I also cut up the bread cubes) and then assemble and bake in the morning.

Ingredients

  • 6 slices bread (I used challah), in 3/4 inch cubes
  • 2 ripe peaches, chopped
  • 1 cup (250 mL) fresh blueberries
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) each ground cinnamon and cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract
  • maple syrup, to serve

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Butter the bottom and sides of a large (10 – 12 inch / 25 – 30 cm) heavy gauge oven-safe skillet (or use a 13 x 9 inch / 32.5 x 22.5 cm baking pan).
  • Place a single layer of bread cubes in the bottom of the skillet or baking pan. Scatter half of the fruit over top. Repeat these layers one more time.
  • Beat eggs, cream, milk, cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla together in a medium bowl or 4 c (1 L) glass measuring cup.
  • Pour liquid over bread and fruit.
  • With a spatula or a clean hand, press down on the top layer of bread cubes so that they become partially saturated with the liquid. Dust with a bit more cinnamon.
  • Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until egg mixture has set.
  • Let cool 3 minutes then cut into wedges and serve with maple syrup.

Serves 4 – 6

 

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Paula Roy’s Favourite Foods Season 2, Episode 10 recipes

Entertaining with ease!

We have a lot of dinner parties at our place because I love feeding my family and friends. I’ve learned over the years that I enjoy the effort of feeding a crowd much more when I can prepare most of the meal ahead of time. On this episode of Paula Roy’s Favourite Foods (premiering on Rogers Television Ottawa at 7:30 pm on October 31, then airing again throughout the following week) , I share a delicious three course menu that is sure to impress, and one that won’t have you stuck in the kitchen while your guests relax in the living room. Click on the titles below to access the recipes.

Mushroom and walnut ‘caviar’ on herbed crostini

This appetizer is incredibly easy and super delicious. Best of all, you can prepare the crostini days ahead of time and cook up the mushroom mixture earlier on the day of your dinner party and then assemble just before serving.

‘Better than takeout’ sweet and sour shrimp

I’ve always been a fan of ‘sweet and sour’ dishes but over the years, I’ve realized that a lot of takeout dishes with this flavour profile have a lot of salt and sugar in them. Up next, I’m happy to share a mostly make-ahead, healthier version of sweet and sour shrimp that features loads of vegetables and a brown rice base. One bite and you’ll see why I call it ‘better than takeout’ sweet & sour shrimp!

Perfectly cooked shrimp and vegetables in a sweet and sour sauce that is truly delicious. A great mostly make-ahead meal!

Mini fruit pies

I think this dessert is the perfect marriage between fruit crisp and fruit pie, combining a crunchy oatmeal cookie-like topping over an assortment of gently sweetened cooked fresh or frozen fruit.

Note: you can search the archives on this website for recipes from other episodes of my show.

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