Cooking Classes


Tuscan Rabbit Ragu with Pasta

I lived in Calgary for a lifetime and one of my favourite neighbourhoods was Bridgeland, little Italy. At any time you could drive in and find wild rabbits hopping in the back lanes. Folklore has it that some escaped from the warrens kept by the Italian immigrants and continue to raise their young in this friendly area.

Little Italy has the most amazing gardens brimming with tomatoes, herbs, zucchini and any variety of vegetables. The grocers bring in grapes and much wine is made in these modest homes.

This easy as pizza pie lasagna uses fresh pasta sheets layered with rabbit ragu before being crowned with your favourite grated hard cheese and fresh Parmesan. I pop it under the broiler for a couple of minutes to get that nice carmelization.

Tuscan Rabbit Ragu with Pasta
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 (3-lb) rabbit
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse gray sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Heat oil heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot and add onion, carrots and celery. Saute until translucent. Add to preheated slow cooker.

 Add sage and rosemary and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add rabbit and cook, stirring occasionally, until rabbit is no longer pink on outside, 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add wine and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 1 cup, 10 to 15 minutes. Add tomatoes, sea salt, and pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.

Cooks' notes: ·Ragù can be made 1 day ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered. ·

Ragù can be made with 1 1/2 pounds boneless veal shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces, in a 6-quart wide heavy pot. Add veal to pot in place of rabbit and, after cooking until no longer pink on outside, add 4 cups water and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 1 cup and veal is very tender, about 1 1/4 hours. Proceed with recipe.


Baked French Toast

This French Toast can be put together the night before and refrigerated to bake in the morning. It is a great recipe any time you have guests or a busy time like Christmas or a wedding. I made it in this casserole dish but if made in a baking pan there would be more crispy bits for everyone. 

Baked French Toast
I used pannetone, an Italian Christmas bread, in this recipe. It is slightly sweet and made a wonderful baked breakfast. However any slightly sweet and stale bread will work just as well. A shallow baking dish allows lots of crispy topping bits for everyone.

Butter, for greasing the pan
8 eggs
5 c. whole milk
1/2 c. sugar
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
Day old bread such as French bread, cinnamon buns, brioche
1/2 c. walnuts or pecans
1/4 c. maple syrup

Generously grease a 9x13-inch baking pan with butter. Tear bread into chunks or cut into cubes and evenly distribute in the pan. Use enough bread to completely fill the pan. Whisk together eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla. If you are using an unsweetened bread you may want to increase the sugar.

Cover pan tightly and store in refrigerator, overnight preferably.

Before baking top with coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup. Preheat oven to 350 F and bake, uncovered, for 45 – 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.


Chanterelle and Chevre Quiche

Quiche were at their height of popularity in the 1980's. Every lunch menu featured at least one choice of quiche. Then crustless quiche made their debut. This was possibly the beginning of the gluten-free craze. But you cannot deny that a quiche makes a satisfying lunch or brunch. These individual pastries can be served nicely on a plate with with a green salad or fresh fruit.
Fresh chanterelles are the star of this dish. Dried mushrooms would work equally well. Pea shoots make a lovely garnish.
Chanterelle and Chevre Quiche
1 2/3 c. all purpose flour
3 tbsp. finely grated Parmesan
1/4 c. warm water
pinch of salt
1 egg
5 tbsp. olive oil
3 oz. fresh chanterelles, coarsely chopped
3 small green onions, chopped
2 large eggs
2/3 c. heavy cream
6 tbsp. crumbled chevre
2 tbsp. finely grated Parmesan
1 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Put the flour, salt and Parmesan into a bowl. In another bowl whisk egg, olive oil and warm water. Add liquid to dry ingredients and mix well until a dough forms. Knead lightly on a floured surface and form into a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Divide pastry into six portions and roll out each to a thin circle and line six 4-inch individual flan tins. Prick the bases with a fork then line with foil and bake for 10 minutes, until beginning to colour around the edges. Remove the foil and bake for a further 5 minutes.
While the pastry is cooking, prepare filling. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté chanterelles.
Remove pastry shells from the oven. Place equal amounts of chopped green onion, sautéed chanterelles and chevre in each. Beat eggs and cream together and pour over mushrooms, then sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes until the filling is set. Serve warm.