Take three multi-talented chefs, blend with a large dose of friendship, an equal amount of ingenuity and a touch of magic.
The result is 3 Chefs! - the Kitchen Men (Whitecap), an awesome cookbook featuring the talents of Canadian chefs Michael Bonacini, Massimo Capra, and Jason Parsons, each deeply entrenched in the world of food and each with distinct international culinary backgrounds and cooking styles.
Yet the three are like peas in a pod — wonderful friends who happen to cook together. And cook well at that!
You've seen them as regulars on Citytv's CityLine, and, together or apart, they’ve been entertaining Canadians with their funny rapport and delicious dishes for over a decade.
I know them personally as astonishingly talented chefs who are also delightfully gracious, funny and kind. Their first cookbook together bursts with inspiration, as well as individual stories.
Michael Bonacini is a partner in Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants, which operates a portfolio of stylish, upscale eateries in Toronto; Massimo Capra is one of Canada's most beloved chefs who is also co-owner of Mistura, one of Toronto's hottest eateries, and Jason Parsons heads up Niagara's Peller Estates Winery Restaurant, offering delicious locavore cuisine and selections from one of North America's top vineyards.
They've all appeared in various food-related television shows and they'll be criss-crossing the country early in the new year — a road trip made up of seasoned vets instead of rock stars!
Check out the chefs at CityLine.ca. And enjoy the following recipes, perfect for the upcoming entertaining season.
PROSCIUTTO AND MUSHROOM BEEF WELLINGTON
When I was a kid, we always had beef Wellington at Christmas dinner. My grandmother served roasted lamb on the big occasions, so I guess this was my mom’s way of being experimental and individual. I still like to cook beef Wellington — in this version, I love the flavour the prosciutto gives the beef as it cooks. —Jason
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) butter
½ cup (125 ml) sliced shallots
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) chopped garlic
4 cups (1L) chopped mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, chanterelle)
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) chopped tarragon
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) grapeseed oil
1 lb. (500g) beef tenderloin
8 slices prosciutto
1 sheet puff pastry, rolled to a thin rectangle
5 egg yolks, lightly whisked
Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots, garlic, and mushrooms; cook until browned. Add tarragon and season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon to cool.
Heat oil in skillet over high heat. Sear beef until brown on all sides. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside to cool. Place a large piece of plastic wrap on counter. In centre, lay out two rows of prosciutto, cover them with cooked mushroom mixture, and top with beef. Using plastic wrap, roll prosciutto around mushrooms and beef to create a cylinder. Wrap and chill for 1 hour in refrigerator.
Lay pastry flat on counter. Remove plastic from wrapped beef and place beef in centre of pastry. Brush edges of pastry with egg and roll it around beef, pinching edges together, then fold ends underneath. Brush outside of pastry with remaining egg and chill in refrigerator. Roast beef on a large baking pan for about 25 minutes. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
PAN-FRIED RED SNAPPER WITH VEGETABLE RAGOUT
This recipe calls for snapper, but you can use just about any fish available. The ragoût also goes well with seared scallops and meat dishes like veal scaloppine or pork noisettes. That is the essence of cooking—taking a recipe and changing it up to make it your own. Don’t be afraid to experiment and play with the ingredients! —Michael
2 Tbsp. (30ml) butter
4-6 oz (180g) red snapper fillets, cleaned and deboned
Salt and pepper
3 Tbsp. (45 ml) olive oil
2 shallots, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2½ cups (625 ml) sliced mixed mushrooms (button, oyster, king oyster, shiitake)
¼ cup (50 ml) white wine
½ cup (125 ml) quartered and drained canned artichoke bottoms
3 ripe plum tomatoes, diced
½ cup (125 ml) pitted black olives
¼ cup (50 ml) chicken stock
4 lemon wedges, for garnish
4 tsp. (20 ml) chopped parsley
Heat 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) of butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Lightly season snapper with salt and pepper and fry skin-side down for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn, add remaining butter, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Remove from pan and cover with foil to keep fish hot.
Using same pan, add olive oil and quickly sauté shallots and garlic for 1 to 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in white wine and simmer for 1 minute. Stir in artichokes, tomatoes, olives, and chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon ragoût onto four plates and place a fillet on each. Garnish with lemon, chopped parsley, and a drizzle of oil.
ROASTED STUFFED PEACHES WITH RUM AND CHOCOLATE
This is one of my mother’s special treats. Since my uncles were all farmers who grew fruit for Sperlari and Vergani — the great mostarda and candy-makers of Cremona, Italy — they often would bring fruit to our house. The best peaches were always for eating; the so-so ones were for baking and preserving. I loved this version because of the rum in it. —Massimo
4 peaches, firm but ripe
1 cup(250 m) amaretti cookies
2 Tbsp. (30ml) dark rum
1Tbsp. (15 ml) Amaretto liqueur
4 tsp. (20ml) cocoa powder
3 tsp. (45 ml) granulated sugar, plus more for dusting
Butter cookies, if needed
1⁄2 cup (25 ml) white wine
1⁄2 vanilla bean
2 Tbsp. (30ml) butter
Preheat oven to 450F (230C). Split peaches in half and remove pits. Scoop out some of flesh to make a cavity for stuffing and reserve.
Pulse reserved peach flesh, amaretti cookies, rum, liqueur, cocoa, sugar, and salt in a food processor until finely chopped. If mixture becomes too thin, mix in a couple of butter cookies.
Fill peach halves with mixture and place in a baking dish large enough to accommodate peaches in a single layer. Pour wine around peaches and place vanilla bean under them. Melt butter and drizzle it over the peaches, then sprinkle evenly with sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove vanilla bean and serve.