Saffron Risotto with Osso Buco


Looking for the perfect Fall comfort food? Meet Saffron Risotto with Osso Buco. This was Dad’s first time making Saffron Risotto and it was delicious! The colour is perfection and just reminds you of the beautiful Fall foliage we lucky Canadians get to experience this time of year. Osso Buco for those of you that don’t know is a braised veal shank that falls apart in your mouth and basically tastes like heaven. However, if you’re not a fan of veal this can easily be substituted with your favourite cut of beef or lamb.

The recipe for the Saffron Risotto is from Jamie Oliver’s (insert heart eye emoji here) Comfort Food cookbook:

5 cups chicken broth

1 onion

1 celery heart

2 pats of unsalted butter

1 pinch of saffron threads

2 cups Arborio rice

3/4 cup white wine

3 oz parmesan cheese

extra virgin olive oil

  1. Pour your broth into a saucepan on low heat and leave it simmering away so its hot when you need it.
  2. Peel the onion. Click off 6 stalks of celery and return them to the fridge for another day leaving you with the central yellow heart. Finely chop with the onion and put into a large, high-sided frying pan on medium low heat with 1 pat of butter. Cook for 15 minutes or until soft but not coloured, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile put the saffron threads in a bowl and cover with a small ladle of hot broth.
  3. Stir the rice into the pan for a couple of minutes, then turn the heat up to medium high and add the wine and cook it away completely. Then add the saffron broth and stir for a few minutes until absorbed. Add the remaining broth a ladle at a time, only adding more once each ladleful has been nearly absorbed, and stirring regularly for 16 minutes in total, or until the rice is cooked. Add a final splash of broth to give you a loose, oozy consistency.
  4. Remove from the heat, beat in the remaining pat of butter, and finely grate in most of the parmesan, then season the risotto if needed. Cover with a lid and leave to sit for 2 minutes (this is important it makes your risotto extra creamy!), then stir well. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, grate over the remaining parmesan and serve right away. Serves 6.

The recipe for the Osso Buco can be found here. However, if you have the Jamie Oliver Comfort Food cookbook he also has a recipe for Osso Buco that sounds great- we just haven’t tested it yet!







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Pistachio Pesto Gnocchi


Brett’s Bistro strikes again. I was scrolling through my Instagram feed the other day (my favourite pass time) and came across this beautiful photo of pistachio pesto gnocchi (taken by David Loftus- he does the photography for many cookbooks including my fav guy Jamie Oliver) but unfortunately it was for a cook book that had yet to be published, meaning I couldn’t get the recipe. I sent the photo to my Dad and he had done a little research to find a similar recipe, so when I came home on Friday for the long weekend, Pistachio Pesto Gnocchi was on the menu.

Dad followed the recipe that can be found here for the sauce- it was a bit different than the one we saw in the Instagram photo so he added some basil pesto to the recipe, and it is used with Farfalle pasta here but it worked great with gnocchi!

For the actual gnocchi, Dad has one recipe that he uses for this always, it is pretty fool-proof, but the key to success is not letting the gnocchi sit too long once you have it ready to go, it can often turn out a bit slimy if you do. This recipe is modified from the Cook’s Illustrated magazine.

2 lbs russet potatoes, unpeeled

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour


  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Poke each potato 8 times with paring knife over entire surface. Place potatoes on plate and microwave until slightly softened at ends, about 10 minutes, flipping potatoes halfway through microwaving. Transfer potatoes directly to oven rack and bake until skewer glides easily through flesh and potatoes yield to gentle pressure, 18-20 minutes.
  2. Peel potato with paring knife. Process potato through ricer or food mill onto rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Gently spread potatoes into even layer and let cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer 3 cups of warm potatoes to large bowl. Using fork, gently stir in egg until just combined. Sprinkle flour and 1 tsp salt over potato mixture. Using fork, gently combine until no pockets of dry flour remain. Press mixture into rough dough, transfer to lightly floured counter, and gently knead until smooth but slightly sticky, about 1 minute.
  4. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and dust liberally with flour. Cut dough into 8 pieces. Gently role piece of dough into 1/2 inch thick rope, dusting with flour to prevent sticking. Cut rope into 3/4 inch lengths. Transfer formed gnocchi to prepared sheets and repeat with remaining dough.
  5. When time to cook: bring 4 quarts water to boil in a large pot. Add 1 tbsp of salt. Using parchment paper as a sling, add half of gnocchi and cook until firm and just cooked through, about 90 seconds (gnocchi should float to surface after about 1 minute). Remove gnocchi with slotted spoon and transfer to skillet with sauce.






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Mango Brie Quesadillas

Ahoy! One of Brett’s Bistro specialities and fan favourites are his mango quesadillas! Recently he brought the ingredients out to Buck Lake and wowed everyone again. Here are some some pics and the very easy recipe! Ingredients: 2 fresh mangos, peeled and sliced flour tortilla shells 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced (you can discard the seeds to make less spicy) 1 green onion, finely sliced wheel of brie cheese, sliced and some of the casing shaved off sour cream 1 lime

Juice the lime into your sour cream, this will be used at your dipping sauce for the quesadillas.


Get a non-stick pan up to medium-high heat and place your flour tortillas into the pan. Brett warms the tortilla shell up slightly before adding the ingredients. Top your tortilla shell with mango, brie cheese, jalapeños and green onion, then top with another shell and press firmly. NOTE: no oil is needed in the pan. IMG_3174 Once browned on one side, flip over and brown on the other side.IMG_3185 Slice up with a very sharp knife or pizza cutter- this is important because the mangos are a tad slippery and need to be chopped firmly to keep your ‘dilla in tact.IMG_3190 Serve up with your lime sour cream and enjoy!IMG_3191Anchors aweigh!

Fried Fish Burgers with Mango Salsa


A few Sundays ago we celebrated Father’s Day on the patio with a glass of white wine and some delightful fish burgers! Our dad being the passionate cook that he is, couldn’t imagine not cooking on his day.. so that’s exactly what he did. Here are some pics from the outdoor Brett’s Bistro and we have provided you with the Mango Salsa & Fish Batter recipe. The fish used was cod, and we also topped the burgers with spicy mayo, a slice of cheese and some lettuce.

Fish Batter

1 cup flour

3/4 tsp. salt

4 tsp. baking powder

1 cup water

Directions: Make sure oil reaches and remains between 340-350 degrees to fry fish.

Thai Mango Relish

1 hard half-ripe mango

1/4 cup minced red onion

2-4 Thai bird’s-eye peppers, finely chopped

1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1 tbsp packed light brown sugar

1 tbsp palm vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 1/2 tsp each finely chopped fresh Thai basil and mint

Directions: Peel and pit mango; cut flesh into fine julienne or shred on coarse side of box grater to make about 2 cups. Toss together mango, onion, Thai peppers, cilantro, sugar, vinegar, fish sauce, basil, and mint.


Anchors aweigh!

Chardonnay Day #winenot?


Today is Chardonnay Day. Need we say more? As you can probably guess, we are writing this post after consuming some of the finest California Chardonnay— a successful evening if you ask us! Why does it only come once a year? Where is “Chardonnay Year”?

In honour of Chardonnay Day Brett’s Bistro cooked up arancini, veal medallions and bruschetta. Perfecto!

How did you celebrate Chardonnay Day?

IMG_2557 IMG_2560 IMG_2562 IMG_2563 IMG_2565 IMG_2590 IMG_2596IMG_1156Anchors aweigh!

Pasta Fresca


Making fresh pasta (pasta fresca in Italian) can seem a bit daunting to the average Joe, although I think most people would be pleasantly surprised at how simple it can be. Dad has made his own pasta a few times before, some with better results than others; it usually comes down to an issue of texture and thickness. We don’t have the help of any sort of pasta maker, or attachment in the Elliott kitchen, so the rolling out of the dough is done old school with the use of a rolling pin and our hands, hence the varying thicknesses comment. This particular time, Dad, with the help of both me and my sister, tackled a variation of  Chef Michael Tusk’s recipe for fresh pasta, found in Fine Cooking Magazine.

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp 00 flour; more as needed (We went to an Italian shop in Toronto to find the 00 flour, but regular flour can be substituted)

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp semola rimacinata (fine flour) (We found ours at Bulk Barn- and it truly makes a difference, I wouldn’t substitute this for regular flour unless you have to)

6 large egg yolks

1 large egg

1 1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp kosher salt

Place the flours in a mound on a countertop (try to avoid stainless steel or marble surfaces as these tend to be cold and can reduce the elasticity of the dough) and mix to combine them. Make a deep, wide well in the flour, making sure there is flour on the bottom so the eggs are not directly on the surface. Add the egg yolks, whole egg, oil, and salt.

Beat the wet ingredients with a fork until combined, pushing around the edges with your other hand to make sure no egg runs out, and pulling flour from the sides of the mound into the eggs. When you have pulled in enough flour to form a ball too stiff to beat with the fork, start kneading the dough with the palm of your hand, incorporating as much flour as you can.

You should now have a big ball of dough in a single mass. If necessary, use a bench scraper to move the dough and to scrape any dried bits to the side. Sprinkle the clean surface with flour, place the dough on top, and knead by pushing it down and away from you, stretching it out. Fold the dough in half and continue pushing it down and away. Keep repeating this action until the dough no longer feels sticky and has a smooth surface. This should take about 15 minutes. Add more flour if the dough continues to feel sticky.

When the dough is smooth wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. Let it warm up a little before rolling, if necessary.

We loved the final product, the pasta had a great taste, colour, texture, and was fairly malleable and easy to roll out. We actually paired this pasta with (previously blogged about) Brett’s Bistro’s Braised Short Rib but you could whip up any of your favourite sauces or just top with a simple butter and parmesan mixture to really let the flavour of the pasta through. Get rollin’ friends!


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Smoked Beef Brisket


Another recipe courtesy of Brett’s Bistro over here. This recipe is out of the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook- one of the best cookbooks out there. If you haven’t heard of it — go to your local drug store or grocery store today and swing by the magazine rack. They issue a regular magazine with various recipes and you’ll be hooked!

With a taste of summer in the air — it’s time to start venturing to BBQ! We are kicking that off with this succulent beef brisket – perfect mix of smoke, sweet, heat and tender lovin’ goodness.

This recipe serves about 5 people and takes a full half day of cooking, and marinating takes up to two days. You can easily double the size to serve a crowd.

1 beef brisket- our cut was approx. 4-5 lbs.
2 cups of mesquite wood chips, soaked in water
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp ground oregano
1/2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
1/2 tbsp ground white pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all spices.


Rub liberally and pat firmly over all sides of meat to make sure spices adhere.
IMG_1986IMG_2001Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a MINIMUM of 2 hours, and up to 2 days. We did the 2 day option- nailed it!


1 hour before the cooking will begin, remove the brisket from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

Now get your BBQ ready- take your water soaked chips and place them in your smoke box on one side of the BBQ. Dip a piece of paper towel in oil and coat the other side of the grill, place the brisket, fat side up, on the oiled grill. Ensure the temperature inside the grill is about 350 degrees, and lower to 250 degrees over the two hour period. We used a regular natural gas BBQ here but you can cook on a charcoal grill for more of a smokey flavour. Erica will be trying this on her “green egg” style BBQ this summer.

When the two hours on the grill is almost up, pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees. Attach two pieces of heavy duty foil together with a tight seal. Take the brisket from the grill and place into the tin foil, crimping a seal to completely encompass the brisket for the next stage of cooking.  Place your “package” onto a baking sheet and place in the oven for 3 1/2 hours until brisket is fork-tender. We did cook ours for just over 4 hours and the meat was very crumbly and tender, so it could have been removed between the 3-3 1/2 hour mark.


Remove brisket from oven, loosen foil and let rest for 30 minutes. Once the thirty minutes is up place your meat on a carving board, take leftover juices and run through a gravy skimmer (if you want to top your brisket with any of it – we didn’t, but would likely do so if serving on bread for a lovely little sandy) …..and slice against the grain. IMG_2192IMG_2198The recipe recommends serving with a BBQ sauce but we didn’t need to, there was tons of flavour happening here already. If we were serving on a bun we may add BBQ sauce.

So, as long as you have the time to commit, this recipe is definitely a win and will for sure be a repeat at Brett’s Bistro!

Anchors aweigh!

Braised Short Ribs- Welcome to Brett’s Bistro!


For those of you who know us, you’ll know that when it comes to any meal cooked by our Dad, these two words come to mind…. “NAILED IT”. For those of you who don’t know us, what you will need to understand is that he’s an expert recipe tester and perfecter, and knows how to please a hungry crowd. On our blogging journey we will feature some of his recipes along the way and will refer to them as Brett’s Bistro.

This recipe is an adaptation of Rob Feenie’s Short Rib Pasta. Our Dad also made this with his favourite homemade pasta recipe (we will feature some of these at a later date), but you can also serve these as a side dish with mash potatoes, over gnocchi, or whichever way your heart desires (we talked about filling the meat into ravioli, over a pizza.. you catch our drift).

This is the perfect transition dish as we make our way from Winter to Spring.. cravings for comfort food are still lingering yet the idea of fresh green arugula also brings excitement to our taste buds.

Braised Short Ribs
1/2 day cooking time

2 lbs short ribs
2 tbsp oil
3 shallots (finely chopped)
6 cloves garlic (minced)
2 cups red wine (we used a dry French red)
6 cups chicken stock (we used homemade)
8 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
1 jar tomato sauce (we used homemade)
4 thai chilies
4 cups arugula (washed and dried)
1 cup of grated parmesan
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

Prep oven to 350 F. Trim fat from ribs and season with S&P, place in oil in dutch oven. Once oven is to temperature sear ribs for 5-7 minutes. Remove ribs from pan.

Place dutch oven over medium heat burner. Add shallots and garlic once cooked to clear, deglaze with red wine.  Add stock, thyme, bay leaves and place the ribs back in.  Bring to boil. Cover ribs, place in oven and bake for 4-5 hours, turning occasionally until meat falls off the bone. Once you achieve this, remove from oven and allow to cool (approximately 1 hour). Once cooled enough to handle, remove meat from bones.

Now you will make an au-jus. Strain remaining sauce through a sieve into a saucepan. Bring to medium heat and cook until reduced by half (just under 15 minutes). You will need about 1 cup for the au jus for the recipe.

Finely chop your thai chilies, add to your tomato sauce and heat.

Now you are ready to assemble!

We served ours with fresh homemade pasta that we cooked in salted water right before adding to the short ribs.

Combine your au-jus, tomato sauce, short rib meat, arugula, parmesan + pasta noodles. DROOL!

Plate, sprinkle with more CHEESE and your toasted pine nuts – DELISH! Serve with WINE + fresh bread + good company!

Anchors aweigh!

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