We're heading into that delightful time of year where parties take centre stage. Be they humble little gatherings or all-out affairs, food tends to be the guest of honour.
Award-winning executive chef John Cirillo of Cirillo’s Culinary Academy in Toronto knows how to throw a party. A two-time honouree of the Escoffier Society and Team Captain of Culinary Team Ontario at the 2004 Culinary Olympics, chef's dedication to his work is evident in his many roles on the culinary landscape. Check out his academy at Cirillosacademy.com for more info. In the meantime — enjoy the following dishes that are perfect for any occasion.
CHAMPINONES RELLENOS — STUFFED MUSHROOMS
Tapas-style appetizers are a great addition to any dinner party or social gathering. These stuffed mushrooms, featuring spiced ground beef and prosciutto, will set the stage for what's to come and leave guests wanting more.
12 mushrooms, button or cremini
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) milk
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) finely chopped onion
1/2 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 tbsp (7 ml) finely chopped fresh parsley
6 oz (175 g) ground beef
1-1/2 oz (40 g) chopped Serrano ham or Prosciutto
1/2 Tbsp. (7 ml) freshly chopped chives
1/2 Tbsp. (7 ml) lemon juice
Clean mushrooms and remove stems (do not discard). Finely chop stems and place them in a medium-sized bowl. Add milk and breadcrumbs and let soak for 2 minutes. Add onions, garlic, parsley, ground beef and ham. Mix well, cover and let marinate for 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
Place mushroom caps on lined baking tray (tops facing down) and stuff each cap with 1 heaping tsp (5 ml) of meat mixture. Drizzle caps with olive oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with chopped chive and a sprinkle of lemon juice.
Serve warm on a platter.
ROASTED TURKEY BREAST WITH APPLE AND SAGE STUFFING
Apple and sage-stuffed turkey breast is the perfect recipe for intimate family gatherings this holiday season. The combination of sweet apples and savoury herbs infuse into the turkey, creating a tender and flavourful experience with every bite. Serve with roasted green beans and potatoes for a complete meal.
2 cups (500 ml) 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubed, bread pieces (crusts trimmed)
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
2 apples, peeled cored and chopped
8 freshly chopped sage leaves
1/2 tbsp (7 ml) freshly chopped thyme
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 2-3 lb (1-1.5 kg) turkey breast
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) each freshly chopped thyme, rosemary and parsley
Preheat oven to 375F (190C).
In a large bowl, add bread, onion, celery, apples, sage and thyme. Mix in eggs, salt and pepper.
Place turkey on a cutting board and with a sharp knife cut a deep pocket horizontally, being careful not to cut through to other side. Pocket should be about 2-1/2-inches (6 cm) long and 1-1/2-inches (3.5 cm) deep. Spoon stuffing into the turkey breast.
Wrap tin foil around open end of turkey and use butcher's twine to secure turkey, lengthwise then widthwise. Rub turkey with chopped herbs, salt and pepper and transfer to a roasting pan. Roast the turkey for 30 to 40 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 F (75 C). Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Serves 4 to 6.
APPLE AND CINNAMON CRUMBLE WITH VANILLA SAUCE
A quick dessert for the novice baker, this apple crumble recipe is easy to prepare and provides a warm, comforting finish to your meal. Serve with a creamy vanilla sauce.
4 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) cinnamon
1/3 cup (75 ml) sugar
1/3 cup (75 ml) room temperature butter, divided
1/2 cup (125 ml) brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) flour
1/2 cup (125 ml) rolled oats
1 cup (250 ml) 35% cream
1/3 cup (75 ml) sugar
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) vanilla
3 egg yolks
Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
Place apples into a greased 9-inch x 9-inch (23 cm x 23 cm) baking dish. Combine cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over apples. With fingers, scatter 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) of butter over apples.
In a bowl, add brown sugar, flour and rolled oats. Add remaining butter and work mixture with fingers until combined. Spoon mixture over apples and bake until crust is golden and apples are tender, about 25 minutes.
In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the cream to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium bowl, add sugar, vanilla and egg yolks and whisk until the eggs become foamy. While continuing to mix, slowly add cream. Return mixture into saucepan and cook over medium heat until sauce starts to thicken. Do no boil. Remove from heat and cool before serving.
Serves 6 to 8.