Chocolate Pattern

I really love cooking from scratch… everything tastes so much better when you make everything yourself. Allan’s mom and her husband were coming over from Vancouver Island to meet my parents… and Allan and I decided to create a fancy five-course meal to serve them. As if it wasn’t pressure enough just to have the two parents meet!

I think the best way to tackle this post with the sheer number of photos is to put all the prep photos first and leave the five “finished” photos for the end :) I will post the recipes later tonight in the Comments section. So, here we go!

Chocolate Chips for tempering Chocolate on Parchment Paper Chocolate Decorations

The key to cooking a multi-course meal, in my opinion, is all about the prep work. Making sure you double-check your ingredients, making sure you prep anything the night before that can be prepped… and having as much pre-portioned and pre-chopped up the day of the meal before you start cooking. You don’t really want anything sitting there getting cold… you want to serve it fresh right off the stove onto the plate as you go. I decided to prepare the chocolate creme brulée the night before.

Tempering Chocolate

The first step was making the chocolate decoration… and tempering chocolate with a candy thermometer. This is the temperature chart I followed… it’s a bit tricky but once you get the hang of it, it’s fairly easy. You have to raise the chocolate to a high temperature, cool it with an ice bath, and heat again to a medium temperature… then your chocolate is tempered and easy to work with!

A very full pantry

My pantry was definitely overstuffed with supplies.

Simmering the apricots Candied Walnuts

The creme brulée was cooked and then cooled overnight. The next morning I woke up and simmered the apricots for several hours (for the puree) and Allan and I candied the walnuts for the first course.

Le Creuset Pot and Butternut Squash Blending the squash soup _DSC0262 Grated Nutmeg

The next step was to start preparing the soup… peeling, cutting, and weighing the butternut squash. Then sautéeing them in shallots and butter, cooking with chicken stock, and then adding spices. The soup also had to be blended, strained, blended again, and then served. Served with freshly grated nutmeg!

Weighing chicken for the food processor Combined chicken mousse and dungeness crab filling

While this was happening, we started making the chicken mousse in the food processor (note.. having an electronic scale is a life saver!). I cooked up several pounds of Pacific Wild Dungeness crab fresh from Granville Island here in Vancouver in white wine, butter and other spices… which was then added with a little bit of chicken mousse, parmesan, and chives to make the crab filling for the ravioli.

Crab Filling on the Ravioli

Allan made the fresh pasta while I cut the rounds for the ravioli and added the stuffing, and sealed the edges.

Chopped up veggies for the soup Clam Chowder being prepared

Meanwhile… getting the clam chowder ready by prepping the veggies, potatoes and leeks… and cooking the clams in white wine and fish stock.

Clams cooked in White Wine

I really loved the clams we got from Granville Island… very similar to littleneck clams but sweeter. Then I made a roux for the clam chowder and waited while it thickened up and cooked the veggies. (Note… make sure to add the clams just before serving, you don’t want them to get tough).

Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut

Next was making the prosciutto-wrapped halibut.

Wrapping the halibut in prosciutto with a sage leaf Searing the Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut

We wrapped the very thinly sliced prosciutto around the halibut and sealed it in with a sage leaf for aroma and flavour. The halibut needed to be seared before being baked in the oven.

Preparing the Marshmallows from Butter Baked Goods Preparing the dessert plates Firing up the chocolate creme brulees

The last thing to worry about was the dessert of course.. in the interest of time I bought a few little sweets to go with the creme brulée. I got some marshmallows from Vancouver-based Butter Baked Goods… and rolled the vanilla marshmallows in candy cane pieces and the coffee marshmallows in a chocolate-sugar mix. I used little Christmas plates and also attached chocolate-covered marshmallows onto stainless steel skewers. The last step before serving was to torch the chocolate creme brulée.

Allan's Mom and Husband sitting with my parents

We set up my dad’s old work table in the middle of our living room and stole my mom’s linens to make a Christmas spread. It was a little hokey but hey, we made do ;) As for the parents meeting the parents… well we think it went rather well! This is a photo of Allan’s mom and husband Terry sitting at the table talking to my folks. Both sets of parents seemed to get along well and both had good things to say after. We kept them busy with the food ;)

And last but not least… the photos of the finished meal!


FINISHED: Seared Qualicum Bay Scallops with Apricot Puree and Candied Walnuts

Course One: Seared Qualicum Bay Scallops with Apricot Puree and Candied Walnuts

FINISHED: Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Chives, Parmesan, Nutmeg, Pumpkin Seeds and Pumpkin Oil

Course Two: Creamy Butternut Squash Soup topped with Pumpkin Seeds, Chives, Parmesan, Freshly Grated Nutmeg, and Pumpkin Seed Oil

FINISHED: Fresh Dungeness Crab Ravioli with Mushroom Parmesan Sauce and Seared Beef Tenderloin

Course Three: Dungeness Crab-Stuffed Ravioli topped with a Maple-Candied Dungeness Crab Leg, in a Mushroom-Parmesan Sauce… served with Seared Beef Tenderloin in a Balsamic Vinegar-Shallot Marinade

FINISHED: Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut in Clam Chowder

Course Four: Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut with Clam Chowder

FINISHED: Chocolate Creme Brulee topped with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Chocolate Decoration and Mango Coulis and assorted sweets

Course Five: Chocolate Creme Brulée topped with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Chocolate Decoration, with Raspberries in a Mango Coulis served with assorted sweets (Coffee and Vanilla Marshmallows, Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow, Peppermint Bark)


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  1. Lindsay Says:

    Whoa Allie. This looks amazing! I love butternut squash soup. My mouth is watering. MMmmMMMmmmmm.

  2. N... Says:

    What the heck Allie, this is absolutely outstanding!!!! I would love to have recipes please!!! Well done, and what a great way to meet both parents with appetizing, gourmet food!!!! Well done!

  3. Alissa Says:

    Ridiculously amazing!!! Good work. Please invite us when you open a restaurant. :)

  4. Sean Says:

    Geez, Allie! Seriously! I would die if I had a meal like that!

    Your photography is pretty phenomenal too! Wow! Haha!

  5. Steve Says:

    Your documentation of your meal made me want to learn how to cook something I would actually want to take a picture of.

  6. Liv Says:

    My goodness what a scrumptious evening. I can’t believe you even made time for photos.

    Seriously one day you and Allan should make your dream of opening a gourmet b+b in the slopes come true. You’d be fantastic!

    Glad to hear the rents liked each other.

  7. Vinci Says:

    Kudos. That looks amazing and so utterly daunting to do. Honest-to-goodness I’m humbled by your talent.

  8. Flagrantfoul Says:

    WOW. You are a woman of many talents ! That looks phenomenal !

  9. Betty Joe Says:

    Great job allie! It looks amazing! I’m totally drooling right now :P

  10. Emily Says:

    Allie, seriously. You are CRAZY! Why don’t you own a restaurant in Yaletown???

  11. Maggie Says:

    That looks absolutely amazing! I think I drooled a little reading this…

  12. Laura Says:

    I don’t know so much about cooking, but I get hungry ’cause of the crab filling for the ravioli..

    - Laura

  13. La Grenadine Says:

    Wow, wonderful !!
    Great job ! *-*
    I’d love to taste it, haha.

  14. Paulette Egeli (Allan's Mom) Says:

    Allie – Terry and I look a bit stunned in the photo – I was. I have never dined like this before. Everything tasted even better than it looked (and that’s saying a lot).

    Hard act to follow but we won’t expect this level of food experience as a regular deal (even one of these courses would have been amazing and wonderful). * * * * * and more

    Paulette and Terry

  15. Nikki Says:

    Can I be part of your family? Good god…I’m hungry

  16. Vancity Allie Says:

    Thank you everyone for your kind words! :)

    Recipes coming soon!

  17. Rooster Says:

    Wow, this is amazing. I want to try too! Better start with a three-course meal though…

  18. VancityAllie Says:

    Course One: Seared Qualicum Bay Scallops with Apricot Puree and Candied Walnuts

    1 cup dried apricots
    1 Tbsp olive oil
    4 Qualicum Bay scallops (can be found at Granville Island, Whole Foods etc)
    1 cup candied walnuts (we made our own by coating them in icing sugar and frying them, but you can also buy these)

    1. Bring enough water to cover the apricots to a boil and then simmer for 1-2 hours until completely soft. Drain and then puree the apricots in a food processor or a blender.

    2. Rinse the scallops and then pat dry with a towel or paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. You want the scallops as dry as possible so they get crispy on the outside.

    3. Heat the olive oil on high heat in a frying pan/skillet until very hot. Place the scallops in the pan and sear them 1-2 minutes on each side until crispy golden brown. Do not overcook. Squeeze a little lemon juice on top and then serve.

  19. VancityAllie Says:

    Course Two: Creamy Butternut Squash Soup topped with Pumpkin Seeds, Chives, Parmesan, Freshly Grated Nutmeg, and Pumpkin Seed Oil

    1/2 cup unsalted butter
    2 shallots, diced
    2 butternut squash
    7 cups chicken stock
    1/2 cup grated Parmegiano Reggiano cheese
    1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    1/4 cup whipping cream
    3 Tbsp pumpkin seed oil
    2 Tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
    1 Tbsp chopped chives
    White pepper (you can use black pepper but the white pepper is really nice with this)

    1. Peel the butternut squash. Make sure to carefully seed and then slice into small cubes.

    2. In a large saucepan or pot (make sure it has a lid), melt butter on medium heat. Saute the shallots until golden for 5 minutes.

    3. Add the squash. Season with salt and white pepper to your taste. Cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes until squash is extremely soft.

    4. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a separate pot on medium heat. Pour the stock over the squash once the squash is soft… you want enough to cover it by an inch.

    5. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add parmesan, nutmeg and cook for 2 more minutes.

    6. Turn off the heat and then pour the entire contents of the pot into a blender and puree into smooth. I had to do this in two batches as my blender is not very big.

    7. Strain the soup through a fine sieve or strainer. I like to do this twice to make sure it is extra smooth.

    8. Pour everything back into the original pot (wipe it down first to remove chunks) and then add the cream and season to taste. Reheat the soup just before serving.

    9. Top with the pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil, and chives. I also like to slice fresh parmesan on top.

  20. VancityAllie Says:

    Course Three: Dungeness Crab-Stuffed Ravioli topped with a Maple-Candied Dungeness Crab Leg, in a Mushroom-Parmesan Sauce… served with Seared Beef Tenderloin in a Balsamic Vinegar-Shallot Marinade

    For the beef (and marinade):
    2 shallots
    1 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
    2 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
    2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
    2 teaspoons ground black pepper
    1 cup olive oil
    2 premium AAA high quality beef tenderloin steaks (filet mignon… best from Granville Island)

    For the ravioli pasta:
    1 1/2 lbs Italian ’00′ flour (can be found at Gourmet Warehouse or specialty foods store… this is the key to good pasta)
    4 eggs
    4 egg yolks
    1 tsp salt
    1 oz extra virgin olive oil

    For the chicken mousse (part of the crab filling):
    7 oz cooked chicken breast (I like to use roasted chicken so there’s some flavour from the skin, but any chicken is fine really)
    1/2 tsp salt (preferably kosher)
    1/2 tsp white pepper (black can be used)
    1 egg white
    1 cup whipping cream

    For the crab:
    1 lb of Dungeness crab meat (you can buy from Granville Island or Whole Foods… I like to buy the whole leg meat)
    1/4 cup of white wine
    2 Tbsp butter
    Salt and pepper
    1-2 Tbsp chopped Chives
    Parmesan (optional)
    Paprika (optional)

    For the cream sauce:
    1/2 stick butter
    1.5 cups whipping cream
    1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Handful of yellow Chanterelle mushrooms
    1 Portobello mushroom

    1. Place the beef filets in a plastic bag or container with the marinade and marinade overnight.

    2. (the next day) Clean and flour working surface. Place flour on surface and make an indentation in the middle for the eggs. Put eggs in the middle and slowly mix together the flour and the eggs. Add salt and oil and continue to mix.

    3. Knead the dough until well-mixed and the pasta feels smooth. It should have some firmness but not be too gooey or too hard.

    4. Place the dough in Saran Wrap and leave to rest for 2 hours.

    5. Make the chicken mousse while the dough is resting. Using a food processor or blender, puree the chicken breast until smooth and then add the salt and pepper. Season to taste if you need more. Mix in the egg white. Slowly add the half of the cream while mixing.

    6. Strain the mixture to remove any lumps. Fold in the remaining cream very slowly, a little bit at a time. Set aside in the fridge.

    7. Now cook the crab meat for the filling. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and add the crab meat. Saute for 1-2 minutes and then add the white wine. Stir gently until the wine has been mostly cooked off (approx 2-3 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Make sure the crab meat is golden brown and is cooked through… but be careful not to overcook or it will be chewy. Place in the fridge to cool.

    8. Combine the chicken mousse and the crab meat together gently. Make sure it is evenly mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Optionally add a little parmesan, chopped chives, and paprika for more flavour. Set the mixture aside in the fridge.

    9. Clean the mushrooms (either wash or brush with a mushroom brush). Gentle chop the chanterelles in half and then slice the portobello mushroom thinly.

    10. Now it has probably been 2 hours or close to 2 hours. Get your pasta dough and either roll it out with a rolling pin or use a pasta maker to roll into thin sheets. Try to get the dough as thin as possible while still strong.

    11. Using a cookie cutter or an inverted drinking glass, cut large circles into the dough to make your ravioli pieces.

    12. Place a spoonful of the crab/chicken mousse filling into the center of one circle. Have a glass nearby of warm water, and dab your finger into it. Use your wet finger around the edge of the ravioli piece (try not to touch the filling in the center). Press another ravioli piece on top, and press very firmly down with your fingers on the outside edges to seal the ravioli together. Make sure it is well sealed, or it will fall apart when boiled. Repeat with remaining filling and ravioli pieces. Set finished raviolis aside.

    13. Get a salted pot of water boiling. Meanwhile, let’s make the cream sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan or skillet on medium heat. Add the whipping cream and bring it to a gentle boil. DO NOT overboil. Lower the heat to low-medium and stir the sauce. Continue to stir occasionally and cook for approximately 10 minutes. It should start to thicken.

    14. Add the parmesan and the seasoning (salt and pepper, paprika if you like) to taste. You can always add more parmesan if it needs it! :) Continue to simmer until the sauce is very thick and can coat the back of a spoon… this can take anywhere from an additional 5-15 minutes. Add the mushrooms. Let it sit on low heat.

    15. Now your water should be boiling. Add the ravioli to the boiling pot and quickly (but gently) stir at first so they don’t stick. Leave to boil approximately 4-6 minutes or until done.

    16. Meanwhile, on a barbecue or in a hot skillet, sear the beef tenderloin on each side until medium rare or desired doneness.

    17. Now bring it all together (I hope you have someone to help you!)… slice the beef tenderloin and place on each plate. Strain the ravioli and place on a plate. Generously drizzle with mushroom cream sauce. Serve with freshly cracked pepper and grated parmesan.

  21. VancityAllie Says:

    Course Four: Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut with Clam Chowder

    For the prosciutto-wrapped halibut:
    12 slices of VERY thin prosciutto, good quality
    4 large fresh sage leaves
    4 fillets of Pacific halibut, approx 5 oz each… make sure there is no skin
    2 Tbsp olive oil

    For cooking the clams:
    1 Tbsp olive oil
    2 diced shallots
    1.5 lbs fresh clams (littleneck or sweet variety)
    1/4 cup nice white wine
    1/4 cup fish stock (can be found at Granville Island Stock Market)
    1 sprig of fresh thyme

    For the chowder:
    1 cup clam broth
    2 cups fish stock
    1 cup milk
    1 bay leaf
    1/4 cup unsalted butter
    1/4 cup flour, sifted
    1/4 cup whipping cream
    1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
    4 slices of double-smoked bacon, diced
    1 or 2 large Yukon gold potatoes, diced
    1 small leek, white and light green parts diced
    1 large carrot, diced
    2 stalks celery, diced
    Clam meat (from cooking the clams)
    1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

    1. Put a sage leaf on top of each halibut fillet. Now carefully wrap 3 prosciutto pieces around the fillet. Repeat with all pieces of halibut. Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate while doing remaining tasks.

    2. Use a large pot with a lid and heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add shallots and saute until soft 2-3 minutes. Increase heat to high and add the clams, white wine, fish stock, and thyme sprig. Cover and let it cook for ONLY 2 minutes.

    3. Now immediately using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the clams as they open to another bowl. Work quickly or your clams will overcook. As each clam opens, quickly move it to the bowl. After 5 minutes have passed, discard the remaining clams that did not open.

    4. Remove from heat and strain the broth through a strainer or sieve and keep that broth for the chowder later. Take the clam meat out of the shells with a spoon and keep in a bowl on the side for the chowder later.

    5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Now let’s make the chowder. Heat the clam broth, fish stock, milk, and bay leaf in a medium pot on low heat.

    6. In another pot, heat the butter on medium heat and slowly add the flour, whisking to form a roux. Reduce the heat to low and cook 5 minutes.

    7. Now whisk in the first pot’s contents into the second pot, slowly. Whisk until it is smooth with no lumps. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Add the cream and stir. Strain this sauce through a sieve or strainer.

    8. Heat the grapeseed oil on medium heat and dry the bacon until crispy. Add the potatoes, leeks, and carrots to the bacon fat and fry for another 3-4 minutes. Pour off the excess oil and stir in the celery and the cream sauce that was strained. Simmer until potatoes are soft about 20 minutes. Add the reserved clams JUST before serving and not any earlier!

    9. Make sure the oven has preheated. Now time to cook the halibut. Heat olive oil in a fry pan or skillet and then add the halibut, frying each side about 1 minute (enough to sear the prosciutto and make it crispy). Place the pan in the oven and bake for 5-6 minutes more. Make sure the halibut is cooked through by slicing one in half. Bake more if needed. When done, slice each fillet into 3 pieces.

    10. Pour a bit of chowder into a bowl and then place the halibut fillets on top to serve!

  22. VancityAllie Says:

    Course Five: Chocolate Creme Brulée topped with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Chocolate Decoration, with Raspberries in a Mango Coulis served with assorted sweets (Coffee and Vanilla Marshmallows, Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow, Peppermint Bark)

    For the chocolate decoration:
    2 cups tempering chocolate (can be found at Whole Foods)
    Parchment paper
    Candy thermometer or deep fry thermometer

    For the chocolate creme brulee:
    1 1/2 cup whipping cream
    1/2 cup milk
    1/4 cup good quality dark cocoa powder
    3 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped into small pieces(e.g. Vahlrona, Callebaut, good quality)
    1/2 cup brown sugar (loose, do not pack)
    4 egg yolks
    2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 Tbsp coffee liquor

    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Temper the chocolate according to the chart above over a water bath and ice bath accordingly. Let me know if you need help with this and I can post more detailed instructions.

    2. Drizzle the tempered chocolate over the parchment paper to form a pattern. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight until hardened. Use a cookie cutter or other shape to form the chocolate decorations.

    3. For the creme brulee… use a pot over medium-high heat. Bring the whipping cream and milk to a boil but do not burn.

    4. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder. Whisk chocolate pieces into the mixture. Make sure it is very smooth and not lumpy. Do not overmix or foam will develop.

    5. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks smooth. Add a half cup of cream-chocolate mixture and mix well. Now Add the vanilla, coffee liquor, and brown sugar. Do not overmix or foam will develop.

    6. Strain through a sieve or strainer. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes or so until there is little to no foam on the surface.

    7. Gently fill the ramekins or creme brulee bowls with mixture. Place in baking pan or oven-proof dish and then pour cold water halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

    8. Place in preheated oven in the center. Cook 20-60 minutes depending on the size of your ramekins. This is a VERY important step and will likely take some testing. You want to cook them until the center of the creme brulee no longer trembles. Do not overcook or it will be tough. I cooked them about 20 minutes in very small ramekins… in standard creme brulee ramekins it would take about 40 minutes.

    9. Cool overnight or for a couple hours. Use castor or very fine sugar and sprinkle over top when ready to serve. Torch the surface with a blow torch or under the broiler of the oven to caramelize the top until golden brown but not burnt.

    10. Serve immediately with vanilla bean ice cream and fruit!

  23. Samantha Says:

    Hi Allie! Just wanted to let you know that I made the beef tenderloin and crab ravioli last night! My boyfriend and I really loved the ravioli but found the balsamic vinegar marinade for the beef a little too overwhelming. So overall, A+ for the ravioli, B for the tenderloin. Thanks for the recipe! Keep them coming (if you have time between planning your wedding, etc)!

  24. Vancity Allie – the blog of a Vancouver girl who lives and breathes the West Coast » Blog Archive » FOOD AND FISH Says:

    [...] For the appetizer we had a roasted creamy butternut squash soup with fresh cream, shaved parmigiano reggiano, chopped chives, and freshly grated nutmeg. Click here for my butternut squash soup recipe. [...]

  25. Vancity Allie – the blog of a Vancouver girl who lives and breathes the West Coast » Blog Archive » CHRISTMAS DECOR AND HOLIDAY ENTERTAINING IN AN APARTMENT Says:

    [...] First course: Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds and Pumpkin Seed Oil, finished with a Parmesan Crisp … we always seem to make this one when other people come over! (recipe) [...]

  26. Kristen Says:

    This butternut soup looks delicious, especially in the image with the parmesan crisp. You’re making me hungry!

    Kristen recently posted.. Welcome

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This the blog of a 28 year-old Vancouver girl who loves and writes about everything “Vancouver” and West Coast. This is the blog of a girl who works in Vancouver's video game industry, it's also a surfing blog, snowboarding blog, food blog, Canucks blog, gadget blog, and photography blog. VancityAllie.com is an award-winning blog that receives over 2.7M unique visitors every year and over 4,500 followers on Twitter. VancityAllie.com has been featured in books, newspapers, magazines, and television.

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