Mango-Banana-Pistachio Strudel with Raspberry Sauce and Dried Mango Chips

From A Taste of Excellence Cookbook, Rudi Sodamin


Chase away the wintertime blues with this exciting combination of creamy tropical fruit in crisp phyllo.  You can make the mango chips and raspberry sauce up to two days in advance.




  • ½ cup shelled pistachio nuts
  • 4 sheets phyllo dough (18 inches X 14 inches)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup yellow or white cake crumbs
  • 3 ripe bananas, peeled, and split lengthwise
  • 1 large mango, peeled, pitted, and chopped into ¼-inch dice
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling

Mango Chips

  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 mango, unpeeled and well washed

Raspberry Sauce

  • 2 (12-ounce) packages frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 table spoon kirsch or framboise liqueur (optional)

Cooking Instructions:

For the Strudel

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread pistachios on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes.  Let cool, chop, and set aside.  Increase oven temperature to 375°F.  Lightly coat baking sheet with butter.

Lay 1 sheet of phyllo on a work surface (keep remaining phyllo covered with a damp kitchen towel and plastic wrap).  With a pastry brush, brush phyllo sheet lightly with some melted butter.  Sprinkle with one-fourth of sugar and one-fourth of cake crumbs.  Lay another sheet of phyllo on top.  Lightly brush with more butter and sprinkle with more sugar and cake crumbs.  Repeat with remaining 2 sheets of phyllo.

Arrange some sliced bananas and diced mango along 1 long edge of phyllo so that bananas cover an 18-inch x 3-inch area.  Sprinkle fruit with some pistachios.  Top fruit with remaining bananas, mango, and pistachios.

Starting from the fruit-lined edge, roll up phyllo into a cylinder.  Place strudel on prepared baking sheet and brush with melted butter.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until pastry is golden crisp on the outside and warm on the inside.

For the Mango Chips

Preheat oven to 200°F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, nonstick foil, or a nonstick baking pad.  Sift 1½ tablespoons confectioners’ sugar evenly onto lined baking sheet.  Use your palm to hold down a whole mango as you make slices around the pit with a mandolin or other manual slicer.  Keep fingers clear.  Arrange a single layer of the best-looking slices on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1½ tablespoons confectioners’ sugar.  Bake slices in middle of oven until beginning to crisp, about 2 hours.  Immediately peel chips off parchment and cool on a rack.

For the Raspberry Sauce

In a heavy medium saucepan, stir berries, sugar, and water over medium heat until mixture just comes to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Transfer mixture to food processor and puree.  Scrape into a wire mesh strainer set over bowl; press on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids in strainer.  Mix liqueur into sauce, if desired.  Thin with water if necessary.

To Serve

Transfer strudel to a cutting board and slice into 6 diagonal slices.  Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and transfer to plates.  Garnish with fruit sauce and mango chips.


Bon Appétit!

Poached Lemon Infused Chicken Breast with Orange Orzo and Sliced Squash

From A Taste of Excellence Cookbook, Rudi Sodamin


The chicken in the light and refreshing preparation is poached to allow the various citrus flavors to shine through.



  • 4 chicken breasts (see Note)
  • 2 cups chicken stock, canned or homemade
  • 1 cup white wine (preferably Chardonay)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, split and crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 white peppercorns
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • 2 oranges, peel removed and very thinly sliced, fresh segmented, and peel, segments, and juice separately reserved
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 small green zucchini, sliced diagonally
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, sliced diagonally
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 4 whole leaves for garnish

Cooking Instructions:

Remove skin and trip wing bone from chicken breasts; reserve.  In a stockpot, combine stock, wine, lemon juice, lemon grass, bay leaf, and peppercorns.  Bring to a light simmer. Season chicken with salt and pepper and place in the simmering stock.  Return to a simmer and poach until cooked through, about 10 minutes.  Removed chicken, place on a platter, and tent with foil to keep warm.  Reserve poaching liquid at a slow simmer.

In a 2-quart saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add shallots and cook until softened.  Add orzo, stirring to coat with the oil, and then add 2 cups reserved poaching liquid, orange juice, and half the orange zest.  Bring to a simmer and cook orzo, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes.  Keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat butter over medium heat.  Add sugar and cook until golden brown.  Add half of the orange segments, stir once, and remove pan from heat to allow segments to soften in syrup.

Add water to remaining simmering stock to equal 2 cups; season with salt.  Add zucchini and squash and cook, covered, until tender.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a warm bowl and ladle a little poaching liquid over them to keep them warm.

To serve, return chicken breasts to simmering poaching liquid just long enough to reheat.  Stir parsley, chopped basil, and the remaining orange segments into the orzo and divide it among the plates.  Place a breast on each pile of orzo.  With a slotted spoon, transfer squash slices to plates.  Garnish plates with caramelized orange segments, remaining reserved orange peel, and whole thyme leaves.  Serve immediately.



For this recipe, seek out chicken with the best flavor and texture, which may mean free-range, organic, or corn-fed

Bon Appétit!

Ceviche – The Hot New Trend


In the last few years Ceviche has made its way on the menus of many restaurants and every Chef cooks their own version of this Peruvian dish. If you travel through South and Central America you will find hundreds of different versions of Ceviche with each country claiming to make the best. The mother country for Ceviche is Peru and here is one of the best Peruvian recipes provided by Chef and food writer Stephanie Ortenzi:

An appetizer or late-night snack eaten with Pisco, the Peruvian brandy

Ceviche Peruano (Serves 6)


  • 600 gr halibut
  • 3 large Scallops
  • 1 small red onion, thinly julienned
  • juice of 12 limes, or enough to cover the fish
  • 1 aji amarillo pepper finely diced
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cobs of corn, boiled and cut in thirds
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, boiled and into thirds


  1. Cut the halibut and scallops equally into one-inch pieces.
  2. Season with salt, cover with lime juice, and set the red onions on top.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until the fish has firmed up and becomes opaque.
  4. When ready, drain and serve in cold bowls with corn and sweet potato to garnish.

Bon Appétit!

Roasted Chile Poblano Bisque


I had this soup for the first time at a very fancy wedding in San Felipe del Agua, the ritziest section of Oaxaca. The soup was delicious – creamy but not picante at all. One day I started craving chiles poblanos, and we made the soup for a cooking class. We had just been to the Etla market, where I had bought some requesón (farmer cheese), so we added it to thicken the soup, adding another dimension. The corn tortilla topping contributes a flavor contrast with the poblano. If the soup is too picante, you can double the amount of cheese.



  • 7 chiles poblanos
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 medium white onions, thickly sliced
  • ½ head of garlic, cloves separated
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 sprigs fresh epazote* or 1½ teaspoons dried (optional)
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 2 ounces requesón (about 1/3 cup) or ricotta or farmer cheese (with salt)
  • *Epazote is also known as Wormseed or Mexican Tea; it can be found in Latin or Hispanic grocery stores.

    To serve:

    3 teaspoons Mexican fresh crema, heavy cream or créme fraîche

    4 corn tortillas, 8 inches in diameter, cut into thin strips and fried or toasted


    In a 10-inch dry comal, griddle or in a cast-iron frying pan or over a open flame, roast the chiles until they blister, turning to roast all sides. Place in a bowl and top with another bowl, inverted, and set aside for 15 minutes to sweat. Peel and remove stems and seeds. Cut the clean flesh into strips; these are called rajas.

    In a heavy 4-quart stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the onions until transparent. Add the garlic and continue to cook about 5 minutes longer, but do not brown it. Add the chile strips and continue to cook about 20 minutes longer, stirring. Add the salt and pepper and epazote to the mixture, then follow with the chicken stock. Simmer 15 minutes longer, covered, over low heat.

    Puree the chile mixture in a blender until smooth. Return the puree to the pot and add the milk. Heat through. Remove ½ cup of the puree and blend with the requesón in a mixing bowl until smooth. Return mixture to the soup and heat through. Adjust salt to taste.

    To serve:

    Place the crema in a mixing bowl and beat it with a whisk until smooth. Thin with a little milk if necessary to make a thin stream. Pour the crema in a small plastic bag or squirt bottle. Place a ladle of soup in the bowl. Squirt about ½ teaspoon of crema onto each serving in a free-form fashion. Add a handful of tortilla strips on top in a vertical fashion or serve tostadas on the side.

    Hint: Sometimes, I sauté corn kernels in the chile mixture and puree it all to make a corn and poblano bisque; or I sauté the kernels on the side and add them to the pureed bisque.

    Bon Appétit!

    Excerpted from ¨Seasons of My Heart, A Culinary Journey Through Oaxaca, Mexico¨

Chocolat Macarons

Chocolat Macarons

Written by Mardi Michels

Classic French macaron shells delicately flavoured with cocoa powder sandwiching a creamy ganache of your choice. With some practice and patience, this recipe will wow your friends time and time again!


  • 120g powdered almonds
  • 220g powdered sugar
  • 15g cocoa powder
  • 100g egg whites, room temperature
  • 30g sugar
  • 7 drops red food colouring
  • 7 drops black food colouring
  • 1 drop blue food colouring
  • 25 drops yellow food colouring (note: it is not necessary to use colouring but it will help the macarons bake a gorgeous chocolately colour. Cocoa will bake grey otherwise)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 320˚F.
  2. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  3. Prepare a 14” piping bag with a plain tip (I use Ateco 803), twist the bag at the tip end and place inside a glass to facilitate filling the bag.
  4. Combine almonds, powdered sugar and cocoa powder in a food processor, pulsing about ten times for a few seconds, until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Sift dry ingredients twice using a fine sieve and pressing the mixture through with your hands and set aside.
  6. Using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites, sugar and food colouring at a low speed for two minutes, medium speed for two minutes and a high speed for three minutes. The egg whites will be a large mass at this point; don’t worry!
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the egg whites. Fold the mixture, at the same time pressing it against the sides of the bowl to deflate the mixture. Fold this mixture about 40 times (counting single strokes).
  8. Transfer the mixture to the piping bag, sealing the open end with a twist and holding firmly with the hand that will not be actively piping. Pipe four tiny dots of mixture under the corners of the parchment paper to make sure it stays put.
  9. Pipe your macarons, holding the piping tip at an angle to the baking sheet, about 3cm in diameter (they will spread during cooking), and quickly removing the tip when you have finished piping, making a shape like a comma.
  10. Place the tray of macarons on an empty baking tray and bake for 12 minutes at 320˚F, turning the tray from back to front halfway through.
  11. Remove from oven and let the tray sit for a few minutes.
  12. Gently pour water into the baking tray under the parchment paper and leave for a minute or so.
  13. Remove the parchment from the tray and remove macaron shells to a cooling rack.
  14. Once completely cool, fill with ganache or cream filling of your choice.
  15. Best enjoyed 24 hours after filling.

Bon Appétit!

Check Out Paris Sweets and Desserts featuring macarons

Italian Fish Soup

From Culinary Signature Collection Appetizers, Rudi Sodamin


We serve this soup at our Canaletto restaurant on board the ms Eurodam, where it’s called Zuppa di Pesci.  Its fresh seafood flavors and aromatic broth have made it one of the most popular dishes on that menu.



  • 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • ½ lb. carrots (about 3 medium), peeled and cut into thin strips
  • ½ lb. leeks (about 2 medium), white and light green parts only, washed and cut into thin strips
  • 2 medium onions, minced
  • 1 ½ tbsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ tbsp. saffron threads
  • 1/8 tbsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 lb. tomatoes, cored, peeled, and finely diced
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • ½ cup dry white wine (Sauvignon blanc or pinot blanc)
  • 8 cups white fish stock
  • Sea salt
  • 1 lb. striped bass, Alaskan rockfish, or red snapper with skin on, cut into 6 pieces
  • 4 ounces salmon, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 4 ounces medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 4 ounces bay scallops
  • 4 ounces squid, cut into rings
  • 6 sprigs fresh fennel or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)


  1. In a heavy 6- or 8-quart soup pot of enamel-lined casserole, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the carrot and leek strips and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. With tongs, transfer about half of the carrots and leeks to a bowl and set aside for the garnish. Add the onions and garlic to the remaining vegetables in the pan and cook, stirring, until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes (reduce the heat if the vegetables begin to take on color)
  2. Add the saffron and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the wine and simmer, uncover, until the liquid is reduced by about half.
  3. Stir in the fish stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Carefully pour the soup through a fine sieve into another soup pot; discard the solids in the sieve.
  4. Season the strained soup with salt. Add the striped bass, salmon, shrimp, scallops, and squid; bring the soup to a simmer (by the time it simmers, the fish should be cooked through). Adjust the seasoning.
  5. Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, reheat the reserved carrot and leeks strips in the remaining 1-tablespoon oil until the carrots are cooked through but still slightly firm to the bite.  Season with salt. To serve, divide the snapper pieces and soup among warmed bowls. Top with the carrot and leek strips. Garnish with the sprigs of fennel and serve immediately, passing a pepper mill (if using)

Bon Appétit!

Red Pepper & Feta Pseudokeftedes


The Pseusokeftedes or croquettes are one of the many appetizers diners can enjoy at Kourdisto Gourouni Restaurant in Thessaloniki. Our blogger Peter Minaki of shares his recipe and culinary adventures in his spotlight article 36 hours in Thessaloniki.

The Pseusokeftedes (Makes 8 patties)

Recipe provided by: Peter Minaki


  • 4 roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped red peppers
  • ½ cup fresh chives
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • ½ tsp chilli peppers
  • 6 – 8 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup crumpled Feta cheese
  • Sunflower or Vegetable Oil for frying
  • 1 cup strained Greek Yogurt


  1. Place chopped peppers, oregano, basil, chives and baking powder in a large bowl.
  2. Mix and add flour and Feta Cheese, and Mix well.
  3. Form 8 small round patties or croquettes and refrigerate for one hour.
  4. Place oil in large frying pan.
  5. Take croquettes out of refrigerator, cover each patty with flour on both sides then fry.
  6. Remove from heat transfer to paper lined plate to blot excess oil.
  7. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Bon Appétit!

Cachaça – The Sizzling Taste of Brazil

Cachaça is the most popular distilled alcoholic beverage in Brazil and one of the top five most widely consumed spirits in the world. The amount of cachaça imbibed on an annual basis within Brazil is currently estimated at an enormous 10 litres per person.

So why haven’t we heard more about this ubiquitous national spirit? While more than 1 billion litres of the spirit are produced annually, only 1% of cachaça ever manages to leave Brazil, with Germany receiving the lion’s share of this miniscule exported percentage. You may be excused for not yet catching wind of cachaça (ka-SHAH-sa) – it’s still a relative rarity within Canada.

Slowly but surely, that’s changing. The craze for Brazil’s national cocktail, the caipirinha (kai-pur-EEN-yah), is poised to do for cachaça what margaritas did to spur tequila sales outside of Mexico some 30 years ago. Though we have a small selection of quality cachaça available in Canada, growing interest in this unique, smooth and complex-tasting spirit should mean a greater variety will become more readily available. Let’s hope.

Batida de Coco (Makes one cocktail)

Recipe provided by: Mario Cassini, owner and chef, Cajú restaurant, Toronto – www.cajú.ca


  1. 2 oz (50 mL) Porto Morretes Organic Silver Cachaça
  2. 2/3 cup (150 mL) coconut milk
  3. 1 tsp sweetened condensed milk
  4. Ice


  1. Fill cocktail shaker with ice
  2. Add cachaça, coconut milk and condensed milk
  3. Shake well to blend and chill.
  4. Strain and serve over crushed ice or ice cubes.


Black Bean Soup with Mango Relish

From A Taste of Excellence Cookbook, Rudi Sodamin


This Cuban-style soup is also delicious served with rice: Unmold a ramekin of cooked rice into a shallow soup bowl, pour the soup around, and top the rice with the mango relish.




  • 1 mango, peeled and finely diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ bunch scallions, white and tender green portions only, thinly sliced
  • ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime


  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • ½ Spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup black beans, soaked overnight
  • 10 ½ cups vegetable stock, canned or homemade, plus extra for thinning soup
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cooking Instructions:


In a small nonreactive bowl, combine all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate until needed.



In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add bacon, onion, and garlic; sauté until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.  Stir in cumin and cook a few seconds more.

Add dried beans, stock, vinegar, and salt.  Bring to a simmer and cook until beans are tender, about 40 minutes.  Let cool slightly.  With a slotted spoon, remove some black beans and reserve for garnish.  Transfer remaining contents of saucepan in batches to a blender.  Puree until smooth, adding additional stock if soup is too thick.  Reheat and adjust seasoning, adding black pepper.  Spoon into soup bowls and garnish with mango relish and reserved whole cooked black beans.



A blender works better than a food processor or a food mill for pureeing soups.  Food processors tend to leak around the motor shaft when filled more than halfway with hot soup, and food mills have a hard time breaking down fibrous ingredients.  To avoid burns, always remember to let your soup cool down a bit before pureeing it.  – Dennis Starch, executive chef

Bon Appétit!