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Bonnie Stern
About Bonnie
When Bonnie Stern started her cooking school in 1973 she wanted people to have more fun in the kitchen, eat more healthfully and nourish their families and friends with delicious food. That goal has never changed. Bonnie is still sharing her love of cooking in everything she does.

Bonnie is an award winning author of twelve best-selling cookbooks and writes weekly in the National Post. As well as offering a wide variety of corporate services, cooking classes and unique book clubs where authors actually attend and dinner is included. She is the recipient of the 2007 Premier’s Award.
January, 2015

Happy 2015! I still can’t believe how fast the holidays went and actually how fast the entire 2014 flew by. After all the hustle and bustle, it seems so quiet now. Time to get back to work. I have a big list of food trends for 2015 for you, a trip to Southern Italy to report on and new book clubs to announce. All exciting!


Although I have been to Northern Italy a number of times, I have never been south of Rome until now. And I loved it. The food was delicious, the people were friendly, the markets were spectacular, the weather was warm and did I say the food was delicious? The only thing that was missing was the incredibly good marketing savvy of the north and the amount of tourists. I was with nine other Canadian journalists from across the country – we bonded quickly sharing impressions, food stories, restaurant recommendations and lots of fun. Check out my restaurant and hotel recommendations below and save them for a future trip - which you may take sooner than you think. (Recipes coming soon.) 

As much as I think discussions about food trends are usually trivial, repetitive and contradictory, I still find myself searching the internet for trend lists every January including those from restaurant and food consultants Baum + Whiteman and supermarket specialist Phil Lempert to see what’s coming. But I always keep in mind how lucky we are in this country to have so much food, let alone the variety and amount. Some of these trends may sound silly (cooking with cannabis), some may be interesting (Peruvian food) and some may be influential (eating more vegetables) but you will be hearing about a lot of them in the coming year.

Food trends:
Anchovies; Anti-inflammatory diets; Arctic char; Bitter (especially coffee, chocolate, greens); Bottarga; Breakfast; British anything; Brittle; Brussels Sprouts; Brown butter; Bufala Mozzarella; Busiate; Butter; Cabbage; Carrots; Cauliflower; Celeriac (celery root); Charcoal; Cheffy foods (that people don’t make at home); Chestnuts; Chicken livers; Chicken skin; Coconut sugar; Coffee; Cookies; Cooking with cannabis; Cornbread; Cream puffs; Dates; Duck; Duck eggs; Fat; Fermented; Fish heads and collars; Flat white; Fluke; Freekah; Gluten-free; Grains; Grebenes; Greens; Grapefruit; Harissa; Healthy fast foods; Hemp; Heritage breeds of chicken; Honey; Hummus; Insects; Jewish haute; Juicing; Kohlrabi; Labneh; Latin American; Lemons; Leftovers; Lima; Mackerel; Maple syrup; Mash-ups; Mexican food: Middle Eastern food; Non-wheat flours; N’udja; Nutrition labels; Nuts and seeds; Oatmeal; Octopus; Online food shopping; Oysters; Paleo diets; Parsnips; Parsley root; Pastrami; Peruvian food; Pistachios; Pomegranate molasses; Preserving; Protein; Quince; Radishes; Ras el hanut; Rice; Rose water; Sardines; Schmaltz; Seasonal (from almost anywhere); Seaweed; Sea vegetables; Sicilian food; Semi-freddo; Smoked anything (chocolate, salt, butter, cocktails, cream, uni); Snails; Souping; Sorghum; Sour; Spanish; Sriracha – and beyond; Spelt; Steelhead; Street food; less Sugar; Sumac; Sustainable seafood; Tea marinades; Teff; Trash fish; Trout; Umami; Vegan; Vegetables; Vegetable yogurt, gelato and jam; Vinegar; Waffles (sweet & savory); Waffled (everything); Waste not; Wheat-free noodles; Water (tastings, pairings, cucumber, maple, watermelon); Watercress; Za’atar; Z’hug.

Beverage trends:
Beer cocktails; Beer pairings; Bourbon; Craft beer; Bitters; Bitter anything; British; Fernet Branca; House made soft drinks; Maple water; Matcha; Old-fashioned cocktails (classic martinis, old-fashioned, Manhattan, Whiskey sour, anything sour); Pimm’s Cup; Punch; Rye; Scotch; Spicy cocktails; Spirits (locally made); Tea; Wine in kegs, cartons and cans.

Restaurant trends:
Allergies addressed seriously; Buying/selling reservations; Dim sum (all cuisines); DIY menu items; Family meals; Fastcas (especially from celebrity chefs); Food designed for instagramming; Food halls; Gluten free options; Hand-touched; Healthy fast food; Pop ups in restaurants; Restaurants catering; Restaurants in fashion stores; Restaurant tickets; Service included (no tipping); Sharing plates and less tasting menus; Tapas (all cuisines); Technology (menus made for smart phones, tablets, games, order ahead); Vegetarian and vegan tasting menus.

We have three exciting new book clubs listed below and still have a few spots left for Linden MacIntyre on Tuesday February 17.  His fantastic new book Punishment takes place in the Maritimes and we have chosen the perfect place to have it – the original home of Maritime hospitality in Toronto – Rodney’s. Start reading and hope to see you soon.

Delicious Wishes for the new year
Bonnie's Book Club
Bonnie's Book Club is a labour of love. Nothing pleases Bonnie more than to have the opportunity to bring readers and writers together in a truly unique way that offers the rare opportunity to meet some of the country's leading authors, discuss their work and enjoy a delicious meal inspired by the book.

Drawing on her degree in English and her passion for food and cooking, Bonnie Stern invites you to a literary feast you won't soon forget - Oprah's book club never tasted this good!

*Small print: All registrations must be paid in full when registering. Please check your schedule carefully before registering. Cancellations can be accepted only up to 14 days before event date, a $50 charge (plus HST) applies to cover the administration fee and cost of the book. At any time you may send someone in your place for no additional charge. It is the attendee’s responsibility to mark their calendar with the date, time and location of the event.


ALISON PICK: BETWEEN GODSAlison Pick’s extraordinary new memoir, Between Gods, is an unflinching, moving and unforgettable book about family secrets, the rediscovered past and depression. Alison is the Booker-nominated and Jewish Book Award-winning author of the novel Far to Go and one of our most talented young writers today.

Between Gods grapples with who we are, with family and faith, and what it means to live a good life. It asks us what does faith really mean? And what happens if we are born in to one faith and then suddenly find out we are something else?

As a teenager, Alison made a discovery that instantly changed her understanding of her family, and her vision for her own life, forever. She learned that her Pick grandparents, who had escaped from the Czech Republic during WWII, were Jewish—and that most of this side of the family had died in the Holocaust. In her early thirties, engaged to be married but struggling with a crippling depression, Alison slowly began to research and uncover her Jewish heritage. As Robert Frost said, the only way out is through. And Alison comes to realize that her only way out is to reclaim her history.
Date: Monday, January 19, 2015 (Wait list only)
Time: 6:30pm to 9:30pm
Place: Rose and Sons
176 Dupont Street, Toronto
Fee: $150 plus HST*
(includes dinner, beverages, gratuity and a copy of Between Gods sent out as soon as possible after registration)
Advance registration only: Bonnie Stern 416 484 4810


LINDEN MACINTYRE: PUNISHMENTIn February Bonnie is very pleased to welcome back legendary television journalist and Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Linden MacIntyre, as he presents his new novel, the national bestseller Punishment.

In Punishment, Linden MacIntyre explores justice and vengeance as a tight knit Maritime community grapples with the loss of one of its own. When Mary Alice Stewart, a teenage girl, is found dead at the home of a young ex-con and drug dealer, the tragedy draws together a disparate group of characters - each with their own history, desires, and secrets.

Tony Breau has returned to his hometown following an early retirement from years as a prison guard. Divorced and broken by his premature departure from a long career, Tony struggles to regain his bearings. But returning to St. Ninian brings Tony little peace. Rediscovering old relationships and sorting through feelings of guilt, betrayal, and regret, he finds a return to home and the past raises more questions than it answers - and the present is looking more complicated with each passing day.

Dwayne Strickland has a complex relationship with Tony, who knew the young ex-con as an inmate. Strangely, they bonded over the killing of another prisoner - a crime that incriminated both inmates and guards. When the two men each give testimony against their kind, they bear the label of "rat." But once Dwayne is accused in Mary Alice's death, all bets are off.

Linden MacIntyre has established himself as a writer of great skill and range and Punishment is a powerful book that examines the fierce and complicated emotions of revenge. As the novel hurtles towards its shocking conclusion, it builds into a page-turner that blindsides readers with its twists and betrayals.
Date: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 (Wait list only)
Time: 6:30pm to 9:30pm
Place: Rodney's Oyster House
469 King Street West, Toronto
Fee: $150 plus HST*
(includes dinner, beverages, gratuity and a copy of Punishment sent out as soon as possible after registration)
Advance registration only: Bonnie Stern 416 484 4810


ANDREW O'HAGAN: THE ILLUMINATIONSIn March, Bonnie once again highlights the very best in international fiction at the book club. Andrew O’Hagan caused a sensation with his debut novel Our Fathers. The book received rave reviews, was shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize and was nominated for the Whitbread First Novel Award and the IMPAC Literary Prize. O’Hagan’s follow-up novels, Personality (winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction) and Be Near Me (winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize) established him as on of the UK’s brightest literary stars.

Andrew O’Hagan will visit the book club to discuss his eagerly-awaited new novel The Illuminations.

How much do we keep from the people we love? Why is the truth so often buried in secrets? Can we learn from the past or must we forget it? The Illuminations, Andrew O'Hagan's fifth work of fiction, is a powerful, nuanced and deeply affecting novel about love and memory, about modern war and the complications of fact.

Standing one evening at the window of her house by the sea, Anne Quirk sees a rabbit disappearing in the snow. Nobody remembers her now, but this elderly woman was in her youth an artistic pioneer, a creator of ground-breaking documentary photographs. Her beloved grandson, Luke, now a captain in the British army is on a tour of duty in Afghanistan. When his mission goes horribly wrong, he ultimately comes face to face with questions of loyalty and moral responsibility that will continue to haunt him. Once Luke returns home to Scotland, Anne's secret story begins to emerge, along with his, and they set out for an old guest house in Blackpool where she once kept a room. There they witness the annual illuminations--the dazzling artificial lights that brighten the seaside resort town as the season turns to winter. The Illuminations is a beautiful and highly charged novel that reveals, among other things, that no matter how we look at it, there is no such thing as an ordinary life.
Date: Monday, March 30, 2015
Time: 6:30pm to 9:30pm
Place: To be announced
Fee: $150 plus HST*
(includes dinner, beverages, gratuity and a copy of The Illuminations sent out as soon as possible after registration)
Advance registration only: Bonnie Stern 416 484 4810


LORI LANSENS: THE MOUNTAIN STORY Author Lori Lansens has become a book club favourite. Her novels, the bestselling Rush Home Road, The Girls and The Wife’s Tale, have earned Lori a devote readership across North America. This April, Bonnie is very excited to welcome Lori Lansens back to the Book Club as she launches her new novel, The Mountain Story, a gripping tale of sacrifice and survival in the unforgiving wilderness of a legendary mountain.

On his 18th birthday, Wolf Truly takes the tramway to the top of the mountain that looms over Palm Springs, intending to jump to his death. Instead he encounters strangers wandering in the mountain wilderness, three women who will change the course of his life. Through a series of missteps he and the women wind up stranded, in view of the city below, but without a way down. They endure five days in freezing temperatures without food or water or shelter, and somehow find the courage to carry on.

Wolf, now a grown man, has never told his son, or anyone, what happened on the mountain during those five days, but he can't put it off any longer. And in telling the story to his only child, Daniel, he at last explores the nature of the ties that bind and the sacrifices people will make for love. The mountain still has a hold on Wolf, composed of equal parts beauty and terror.
Date: Monday, April 20, 2015
Time: 6:30pm to 9:30pm
Place: To be announced
Fee: $150 plus HST*
(includes dinner, beverages, gratuity and a copy of The Mountain Story sent out as soon as possible after registration)
Advance registration only: Bonnie Stern 416 484 4810


JIM SHEPARD: THE BOOK OF ARONFor two decades Jim Shepard has been hailed as one of the most versatile writers in American letters. With a body of work that includes novels and short stories, and contributions to such publications as McSweeney’s, Granta, the Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Harper’s, the New Yorker and the Paris Review, he has earned a reputation as a “writer’s writer.” Whether exploring a young boy’s awkward growing pains (Flights), chronicling the exploits of an inexperienced B-17 flight crew stationed in England during the Second World War (Paper Doll), documenting the profound impact that a split-second can have on the rest of our lives (Kiss of the Wolf) or lifting the curtain on a gallery of men trying to navigate a world of hope and heartbreak (the National Book Award-nominated story collection Like You’d Understand, Anyway), Shepard is a master of plot and character.

In May, Jim Shepard makes a very rare visit to Toronto for the Canadian launch of his brilliant new novel The Book of Aron. An incredible work of extraordinary power that charts a young boy’s harrowing coming-of-age in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Second World War.

When we first meet Aron, he is a beguiling and perceptive and not always a happy young boy coming into awareness of himself and his family's struggles. When soon they are driven from the countryside into Warsaw, their lives are changed forever. Aron and a group of boys and girls take terrifying risks, scuttling around the ghetto, smuggling and trading things through the "quarantine walls" to keep their people alive. They are hunted by blackmailers and Jewish and Polish and German police. Gradually, people begin to disappear, and survival is threatened on all sides.

Eventually, Aron comes to know Janusz Korczak, a Jewish-Polish doctor famous for his advocacy of children's rights, whose orphanage was relocated to the ghetto once the Nazis swept in. In the end, Korczak and the children he takes care of, Aron among them, are brought to the station to be put on a train to Treblinka.

The Book of Aron is a breathtaking novel of extraordinary craft and humanity. It looks fearlessly into the face of unspeakable evil and suffering, revealing the persistence and strength of the human spirit and the redemptive power of love. It is a novel that readers will be talking about for years to come.
Date: Monday, May 25, 2015
Time: 6:30pm to 9:30pm
Place: To be announced
Fee: $150 plus HST*
(includes dinner, beverages, gratuity and a copy of The Book of Aron sent out as soon as possible after registration)
Advance registration only: Bonnie Stern 416 484 4810

Book Club Locations
Rose and Sons 4
Rose and Sons 5
Rose and Sons
Rose and Sons 2
Rose and Sons 1
Rose and Sons

It isn’t just me that loves Rose and Sons. The line-ups have become legendary at Rose’s cozy hip diner. Toronto Life said “The eatery has an undeniably buzzy energy, with a bustling bar operating beside a semi-enclosed kitchen, which turns out the kind of elevated comfort food that Rose has become known for.”

176 Dupont Street
647 748 3287
Rodney's 4
Rodney's 1
Rodney's 3
Rodney's 2
Rodney's Oyster House

Rodney Clark brought oysters and fresh seafood to Toronto over 25 year ago and Rodney’s is just as popular today as it was when it opened. Maritime hospitality and the freshest seafood make this place a fixture on Toronto’s unique restaurant list.

469 King Street West
416 363 8105
Corporate Services
Corporate culinary events are a great way to host a corporate function. Great food always brings co-workers and staff together. People have fun, learn a lot and take home delicious memories.

Events are customized to meet your location, schedule, objectives and food preferences. Bonnie works with nutritionists, food producers, restaurants, etiquette experts and authors to create exciting programs.

All events will be planned and hosted by Bonnie personally.

Corporate Cooking Class
Private Cooking Class

Bonnie Stern has worked with various food manufacturers, grocery chains, restaurants, chefs, health professionals as well as cookware manufacturers, etc., offering a wide variety of corporate services, such as:

Corporate culinary events
Corporate family dinners
Market Tours
Recipe development
Private cooking classes
Personal chef training
Product consultation
Menu consulting for parties
Fundraising events 
and more...

For detailed information,
please call: 416 484 4810
Bonnie's Cookbooks
Friday Night Dinners (Paperback)
Friday Night Dinners
Bonnie's latest cookbook with her favourite menus, recipes, photos and stories. Over 170 delicious recipes for every occasion - holidays, barbecues, fast suppers and fabulous feasts - and Bonnie makes sure you can make fantastic meals and still enjoy the food and fun with everyone else. You'll want to use this book every day of the week.

Published by Random House of Canada, 2010, 320 pages, paperback

Bonnie Stern's Essentials of Home Cooking
Bonnie Stern's
Essentials of Home Cooking

Winner of the 2004 International Association of Culinary Professionals Award. A beautiful cookbook filled with Bonnie’s personal favourites - dishes that reflect the way we are cooking today.

Published by Random House of Canada, 2003, 208 pages, paperback

This wonderful compendium is a must for every kitchen featuring over 300 favourite recipes from the bestselling Simply HeartSmart Cooking, More HeartSmart Cooking and HeartSmart Cooking for Family and Friends, as well as 75 brand-new recipes to add to your HeartSmart repertoire. Many of the classic recipes have been fully updated to incorporate current food trends and new nutritional information.

Published by Random House of Canada, 2006, 480 pages, paperback.

Cuisiner au goût du cœur
Cuisiner au gout du coeur
Published by Trecarre, 2006, 512 pages

A very special collection of over 150 mouth-watering recipes including soups, spreads, salads, hors d'oeuvre, pastas and much more. Complete with presentation, entertaining, menu planning tips and over 50 detailed illustrations.

Published by Random House of Canada, 1990, 176 pages, paperback

Over 120 recipes for decadent cakes, pies and pastries, scrumptious cookies, creamy mousses and ice creams – A collection of recipes from a master that stand the test, and tastes, of time.

Also provided are elegant decorating tips, helpful information on equipment and ingredients, and black-and-white illustrations throughout demonstrating basic techniques that will make these recipes absolutely no-fail.

Published by Random House Canada, 1998, 214 pages, paperback

News And Events
BETTER FOOD FOR ALL CHALLENGETo empower Canadians to eat better, from now until March 26, 2015, Sobeys is sponsoring a contest where one person could win a trip for two to London, England to attend a cooking class hosted by Jamie Oliver.

For more information about the challenge, including contest rules, visit:

WINTERLICIOUS - January 30 to February 12, 2015
WINTERLICIOUSFrom delicious prix fixe menus created by some of Toronto's best chefs to unique ticketed culinary events, Winterlicious is one of Toronto's most anticipated culinary celebrations and offers something for everyone.

For more information visit:
Restaurant Recommendations and More
Trattoria Nervosa
75 Yorkville Avenue
416 961 4642
Mark, Anna and I had our annual Boxing Day lunch, exhausted after shopping, at Trattoria Nervosa this year. We were revived by Fettuccine alla Bolognese, Rigatoni al Pomodoro with buffalo mozzarella, grilled octopus with lemon potatoes and lemon semifreddo with pistachio crumbs and honey praline for dessert. Everything was delicious. And having just returned from southern Italy I appreciated it even more.
Antonio e Antonio
Via Partenope, 26
+39 081 245 1987
We heard all the rules and regulations necessary for the DOP designation regarding traditional Neapolitan pizza. (DOP stands for protected designation of origin.) The owner, has two restaurants – one that makes only the DOP pizza and this one which features the traditional pizza and also pizzas made with other excellent local ingredients. Also delicious - the bufala mozzarella with tomatoes and arugula appetizer and the fried pizza dough drizzled with nutella for dessert.
Osteria La Bettola
Via Romani 6
+39 081 530 7612
After learning about ‘pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio’ – the other tomato from San Marzano – we had an amazing lunch at Osteria La Bettola where we were overwhelmed with Italian hospitality, warmth and tomatoes! Salad with cod and tomatoes, penne with tomatoes and fish baked with tomatoes and olives. These special tomatoes – somewhere between a grape tomato and plum tomato with a decidedly pointed tip -  are harvested in the summer and, unbelievable as it sounds, last until the spring!
Ristorante Masaniello
84010 Majori (SA)
Amalfi Coast
+39 089 877 671
This lunch was all about lemons – appetizers served on lemon leaves, scampi risotto with strips of lemon peel, spaghetti chitarra with bottarga and lemon strips, grouper with lemon cream and lemon lava cake for dessert. Let me say that again – lemon lava cake for dessert! (My recipe coming soon.)
Le Galleria
Piazza Augusto Aubry, 8
+39 081 873 3029
After a tour of Pastificio Di Martino in Gragnano we had to try the pasta. Gragnano is an area known for its pasta made with Italian durham wheat, water from the mountain springs and bronze pasta forms. We went to lunch at Le Galleria and sampled pasta with sea urchin, pasta with marjoram and ricotta and rotini with tomatoes and burrata. And always al dente.
La Tradizione
Via Raffaele Bosco, 969
80069 Vico Equense NA
+39 081 802 8437
A fantastic combination of deli, food shop and family restaurant with wonderful food and a great selection of gifts to take home.
Renaissance Naples Hotel Mediterraneo
Via Ponte di Tappia, 25
Napoli, Italy
+39 081 797 0001
Gorgeous views from this hotel cannot be beat!
Hotel Villa Maria di Ravello
Via Santa Chiara, 2
Ravello SA, Italy
+39 089 857 255
A fascinating villa with amazing views make this a great place to stay. They even have a cooking school under the direction of Chef Vincenzo – a born showman! Lots of fun.
Moderate to Expensive
Hotel Voce del Mare
Via Costiera Amalfitana,21
84019 Vietri Sul Mare
SA, Italy
+39 089 210 080
Gorgeous views from this hotel cannot be beat!
Bye Bye Blues
Via del Garofalo, 23
+39 091 684 1415
Patrizia Di Benedetto’s Bye Bye Blues is the only Michelin starred restaurant in Palermo and Patrizia is the only female chef to have received this in Sicily. The restaurant is very stylish and modern with a black and white decor. The food is also modern and one of the only places to find updated Sicilian specialties. We had a fixed group menu so we did not get to try as much as we would have liked but the ricotta cheese ravioli with pork ragu and pea cream was especially delicious.
Ristorante Ferro
Piazza Sant'Onofrio, 42
+39 091 586 049
We had a great lunch of traditional Sicilian specialties at this casual local favourite.
Touring Cafe
Via Roma 252
+39 091 322 726
If you are looking for great  street food and in particular - arancini (delicious fried risotto balls filled with cheese and all sorts of variations), this is a great place to try. Fist-sized with lots of different fillings.
Il Signor di Carbognano
Via Emanuele Notarbartolo, 2 C
+39 091 625 8983
Really great gelato!
Hotel Giardino Inglese
Viale della Liberta 63
Palermo, Sicily
We loved our stay at this perfectly located hotel. It was near the shopping district, the pedestrian street, the gelateria above and there is even a fantastic ceramic store close by. The hotel was clean with a lovely breakfast room on the roof overlooking the garden, delicious breakfast and friendly service.
Featured Recipes
  • 2 1/2 lb butternut squash
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil - divided
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 2 cups vacuum-packed cooked chestnuts, (12oz/400g)
  • 3 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream, optional
  • garnish:
  • sprigs of fresh thyme and potato chips
  • BUTTERNUT, APPLE AND CHESTNUT SOUPAlthough it is fun to roast chestnuts for a snack, vacuum-packed roasted chestnuts make them so easy to use in cooking! The ones we tasted at Raffael chestnut producers in southern Italy were the best, but I have used other brands here in Toronto and the results were also good. Look for the European ones first. Serve this soup as an elegant first course or in shooter glasses as a warm welcome for guests on a cold night. It can be made ahead and freezes well.

    1. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. Place cut side up on a baking sheet. Brush with half the olive oil and sprinkle with some salt, pepper and thyme. Roast in a preheated 400F for 40 minutes until tender. Peel and cut squash into chunks - you should have about 4 cups.

    2. Heat remaining olive oil in a large saucepan and cook onions about 5 minutes. Add apples and cook 5 minutes longer. Add cooked chestnuts and cooked squash, water and a little salt and pepper. Cook gently 15 to 20 minutes until everything is very tender.

    3. Puree soup with an immersion blender or food processor until completely smooth or leave slightly chunky. Add cream or coconut milk if using. Thin with water if necessary.

    4. Serve topped with sprigs of thyme and potato chips.

    makes 6 to 8 servings
  • 3 cups natural yogurt, any fat content (I use organic whole or 2% yogurt without any thickeners)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp za'atar or dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • LABNEH WITH ZA'ATAR AND OLIVE OILCommercial Greek yogurt has become very trendy but now watch out for the original - labneh. Sometimes referred to as yogurt cheese or strained yogurt, labneh is an essential ingredient in the Middle East. Most of you know, especially if you have taken classes from me, that I have been teaching how to make ‘yogurt cheese’ for years. And it does taste different that commercial Greek yogurt. I use a Donvier Yogurt Cheese Maker (under $20) that keeps everything neat and tidy but it is still easy to make following the directions below. Use labneh on top of vegetables, salads, fish, meat, on desserts with honey, or make it into this appetizer and serve with pita.

    (You can buy labneh, za'atar and other Middle Eastern ingredients at Middle Eastern stores – ie Ararat in Toronto.)

    1. Stir salt into yogurt. Place yogurt in a sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towels set over a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and drain in the refrigerator for 18 to 36 hours. The longer the yogurt drains, the thicker the cheese will be. If using this as a topping, usually 6 to 12 hours is long enough.

    2. Roll tablespoons of cheese gently into balls. Spread za'atar or thyme on a plate and roll cheese until lightly coated.

    3. Gently place cheese in a preserving jar (2 cups or larger) and add olive oil just to cover. This keeps in the refrigerator for at least one week.

    makes about 14 cheese balls
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 4 small cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 cup corn off the cob or frozen (covered with boiling water 2 minutes, drained)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt or more to taste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 oz feta or goat cheese, broken up
  • handful baby arugula, optional
  • ANNA'S TRAVELLING QUINOA SALADWhen my gluten-free daughter Anna travels, she makes this quinoa salad that is easy to eat, delicious and nutritious. It's equally great if you are not on a plane.

    1. Place quinoa and boiling water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook gently 12 to 15 minutes. Stir, cover and rest 10 more minutes. Cool.

    2. Place quinoa in a large bowl and add cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, cilantro and parsley.

    3. Combine salt with lemon juice and olive oil. Stir into salad. Gently fold in cheese and arugula if using.

    makes 3 to 4 servings
  • 2 lb butternut squash
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp za'atar or dried thyme or 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

  • cilantro pesto:
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems
  • 1 clove garlic, cut into four pieces
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 jalapeno chile (seeded), cut into four pieces
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or more)

  • smoked chile yogurt:
  • 1/2 cup labneh or Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp smoked red pepper jelly or 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp cilantro leaves
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped toasted almonds
  • ROASTED BUTTERNUT WITH SMOKED CHILE YOGURT AND CILANTROEating more vegetables is a big trend for the next year. So stop looking for 'the new kale' – it’s enough that vegetables are becoming so popular and that cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, squash, beets and all kinds of greens that many people didn't eat before are now ‘cool’. This recipe was inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi's new cookbook ‘Plenty More' where vegetables reach a whole new level.

    1. Preheat oven to 425F. Cut squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds and slice into half rounds about 3/4" thick. Toss with olive oil, za'atar and salt. Preheat baking sheet 5 minutes. Place squash on hot pan in a single layer. Roast 30 to 40 minutes, turning once, until tender and starting to brown. Cool.

    2. Make pesto by placing cilantro, garlic, salt and chile in a food processor. Chop until fine. Drizzle in oil as the machine is running.

    3. Just before serving combine labneh with smoked chile jelly.

    4. Arrange squash on a platter. Drizzle with labneh and cilantro pesto. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves and almonds.

    makes 6 to 8 servings
  • 2 cups pitted Medjool dates (10 oz/300g)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened desiccated or flaked coconut or finely chopped pistachios
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp grated orange peel
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened desiccated or flaked coconut or finely chopped pistachios
  • MOROCCAN MEDJOOL TRUFFLESOkay so these don’t taste exactly like chocolate truffles but they are delicious! And one of the big trends for this year is to try to reduce the processed sugar in your diet. Dietician Fran Berkoff says, “fat, salt and sugar take turns being the villain in our diets and now it is sugar's turn again. But it can only help us to be aware of how much sugar we eat and to try to reduce it - especially the processed foods that contain so much. Dried fruits are still sweet but they have the added bonus of natural nutrition. Just don’t overdo that either!”

    1. Place dates (be sure there are no pits), 1/4 cup coconut, cocoa, orange peel, vanilla and salt in a food processor and chop on/off until mixture starts to come together.

    2. Shape mixture into 1" truffles. Place remaining coconut on a plate and roll truffles until they are coated. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

    makes 16 to 18 truffles
  • 1 1/3 cups vacuum-packed cooked chestnuts (8oz/250g), broken into pieces
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup whisky or orange juice
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar

  • caramel sauce:
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup whipping cream, warm
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or sour cream
  • FLOURLESS CHESTNUT CAKE WITH CARAMEL SAUCEThis delicious, gluten-free cake was the best thing we had at Honey & Co, a tiny Israeli restaurant in London, England. The recipe was adapted from the cookbook Honey & Co written by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich. The cake and sauce can be made ahead.

    1. Place chestnuts pieces and milk in a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil on medium low heat. Cook gently 15 to 20 minutes until chestnuts are very tender. Cool 20 minutes.

    2. Puree chestnuts until smooth with an immersion blender or food processor. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in whisky, egg yolks and almond flour.

    3. Beat egg whites until opaque and starting to form soft peaks. Slowly beat in sugar, a little at a time. Beat until light and silky. Stir 1/4 egg whites into chestnut mixture to lighten it and then fold in remaining whites. Spoon mixture into a 9" cake pan lined with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated 350F oven 25 to 30 minutes, turning pan around once, until top of cake feels dry when lightly pressed. Cool on a rack about 15 minutes, turn out of pan and cool completely. Cake will keep well in the refrigerator a few days or freeze. (You can also bake this in 6 to 8 individual ramekins - they will take less time - about 15 to 20 minutes.

    4. For sauce place honey in a large saucepan. Sprinkle sugar over honey and drizzle water around the sides. Without stirring, bring mixture to a boil on medium high heat and cook, without stirring, until sugar starts to turn a golden caramel colour. (Swish pan around instead of stirring if you are desperate to stir.) Remove from heat and stir in warm cream slowly - mixture could bubble up. If it isn't smooth return to heat for a minute. Add salt, Cool. (This will keep in the refrigerator 3 to 4 weeks.)

    5. To serve, warm up sauce. Glaze top of cake with some of the caramel and serve cake drizzled with more sauce and ice cream.

    makes 8 to 10 servings
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