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Make over the mundane

A few well-chosen tweaks can turn the overly familiar into something of an adventure

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What do you do if your family has declared your favourite recipes boring?

Don't give them up -- make them over. That's the solution Dairy Farmers of Manitoba and Dairy Farmers of Canada came up with when they asked two master chefs to come up with remakes of some classic recipes. I spoke to one of those chefs, Paul Rogalski, chef and owner of Calgary's Rouge Restaurant, to pick up a few tips on how to spruce up those recipes.

Chef Paul Rogaski

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Chef Paul Rogaski

First, you have to think like a chef, so it helps to know what a chef has at home. The "Makeover Toolkit" will give you a few ideas.

"The toolkit is an idea that I love. It's a window into what I have in my refrigerator and things that I deem important and have all the time," Rogalski says. "One of them happens to be butter, and roasted garlic because I love the flavour, and also fresh herbs and pesto and a variety of cheeses and the compound (flavoured) butters."

How do you pull off a makeover? Rogalski says not to be intimidated. He says to look at the recipe and envision your favourite flavour profile.

"For me, a flavour profile is the way the flavour sits on your palate from start to finish. There are three different points, just as when you're drinking wine, there are three initial points. There's the initial taste, the middle flavour and then the aftertaste.

"It can come from any inspiration, maybe something ethnic or something that is more campground or tailgate party -- once I have a vision on where I want to go, I start breaking down the profile," he says. That could include curry or barbecue flavours. He says to learn to pay attention to those three flavour components and you'll be ready to remake recipes.

"I imagine how things taste and I imagine how that list of ingredients would change if I added a little more or less garlic or something more intense. It's where the fun begins," says Rogalski.

To get some more details on how to make over your recipes and share ideas with other home cooks, Dairy Farmers of Canada ( developed the Any Day Magic website as a kitchen tool for easy changes. Along with suggestions from the Recipe Makeover Toolkit, you can join the makeover conversation at where you'll find recipes and tips.

Here is the Recipe Makeover Toolkit -- the top five items Chef Paul Rogalski keeps on hand to make over favourite recipes:

Pesto -- One tablespoon of jarred pesto from your grocery store will add flavour to salads, pastas, pizza or sandwiches.

Roasted garlic bulbs -- The perfect addition to dressings, pastas, soups and sides. Roast your own: Peel away the outer layers of skin of the garlic bulb, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact; leave garlic bulb whole.

Using a sharp knife, slice 1/2-inch off of the pointed end of the garlic bulbs, exposing the individual cloves of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and place on a baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil. Then bake in the oven at 190C (375F). Bake approximately 45 to 60 minutes or until cloves are browned at the exposed end and soft throughout. Remove from oven and squeeze the bulb to remove garlic from its casing.

Flavoured herb butters (compound butter) -- For corn and other vegetables and even on grilled meats. To make your own, cream softened butter in a bowl. Mix in herbs of your choice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately while still soft or roll the butter into a cylinder using wax paper. Refrigerate for one to two hours and slice into thin rounds.

Jarred antipasto vegetables -- Add staples such as roasted red peppers, grilled eggplants and marinated mushrooms to pastas, salads or side dishes.

Cream -- Make a simple cream sauce. Whisk some cream and a little cheese over low heat and drizzle over top of grilled steak. This is perfect for pastas and vegetables.


A sampling of Chef Paul Rogalski's recipes from

Pasta al limone with ricotta cheese

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Pasta al limone with ricotta cheese

Pasta al limone with ricotta cheese

The browned butter and garlic are the makeover ingredients here. Watch the garlic carefully so that it does not turn from brown to burned.

50 ml (1/4 cup) butter

30 ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh sage

15 ml (1 tbsp) crushed garlic

175 ml (3/4 cup) vegetable broth

375 ml (1-1/2 cup) 35% whipping cream

30 ml (2 tbsp) fresh lemon juice

250 ml (1 cup) fresh or frozen small green peas

250 ml (1 cup) Canadian Ricotta cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper

500 g (1 lb) fresh pasta

125 ml (1/2 cup) freshly grated Canadian Parmesan cheese

50 ml (1/4 cup) finely chopped fresh basil or mint

1. In a large skillet, combine butter and sage; heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until butter melts and sage starts to sizzle. Add garlic; sauté, for about 1 minute or until butter and garlic start to brown. Gradually pour in vegetable broth, cream and lemon juice; cook stirring occasionally for about two minutes or until it comes to a boil. Add peas; return to boil, cook stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in ricotta cheese and cook stirring until combined. Remove from heat.

2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions or until desired doneness. Drain.

3. Add pasta to cream sauce in pan; toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and basil; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 main course or 6 side dishes


Crème brûlée with tarragon cream and blackberry

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Crème brûlée with tarragon cream and blackberry

Crème brûlée with tarragon cream and blackberry

Tarragon is the makeover ingredient here.

375 ml (11/2 cups) 35% whipping cream

125 ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk

125 ml (1/2 cup) granulated sugar, divided

5 ml (1 tsp) grated lemon zest

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

10 ml (2 tsp) vanilla


Tarragon cream

125 ml (1/2 cup) 35% whipping cream

22 ml (11/2 tbsp) liquid honey

15 ml (1 tbsp) chopped fresh tarragon

7 ml (11/2 tsp) grated orange zest



75 ml (1/3 cup) granulated sugar, approx

375 ml (11/2 cups) fresh blackberries or raspberries

Fresh tarragon sprigs (optional)

Fresh cracked black pepper (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 160C (325F).

2. In a saucepan, combine cream, buttermilk, 50 ml (1/4 cup) of the sugar and lemon zest; heat over medium heat until steaming. In a heatproof bowl, whisk together 50 ml (1/4 cup) of the sugar, eggs and egg yolks until pale. Gradually whisk in heated cream mixture in a slow steady stream; whisk in vanilla.

3. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a liquid measuring cup with a pouring spout. Pour evenly in bottom of six 175 ml (3/4 cup) or eight 125 ml (1/2-cup) ramekins or crème brûlée dishes.

4. Set ramekins in a roasting pan and place pan in oven. Pour in enough boiling water to come three-quarters up sides of ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until tops are firm and centre is still slightly jiggly. Let cool on rack. Cover loosely and refrigerate for about 2 hours, until chilled, or for up to 2 days.

5. Tarragon Cream: In a chilled bowl, using an electric mixer, whip whipping cream until thick. Beat in honey, tarragon and orange zest until soft peaks form; set aside.

6. Topping: Preheat broiler, if using. Blot tops of custards dry with paper towel. Sprinkle evenly with a thin layer of the remaining sugar, adding more if required. Broil on a baking sheet, rotating ramekins as necessary, or use a torch until sugar is bubbling and caramelized. Let cool for 3 minutes. Place blackberries evenly on top and dollop with tarragon cream. Garnish each with tarragon sprig and black pepper, if desired. Yield: 6 to 8 servings


Smooth guacamole dip

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Smooth guacamole dip

Smooth guacamole dip

The makeover ingredient here is the cream. Bright lime flavour sings through with this creamy avocado dip. A favourite fresh flavour that is easy to whip up and taste while guests enjoy some pre-dinner drinks.

2 ripe but firm avocados

75 ml (1/3 cup) 10% half-and-half cream

50 ml (1/4 cup) light mayonnaise

2 ml (1/2 tsp) grated lime rind

15 ml (1 tbsp) lime juice

1 small plum (Roma) tomato, seeded and diced

1 clove garlic, minced

Dash hot pepper sauce


30 ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh coriander or parsley (optional)

1. Cut avocados in half and remove pit. Using spoon, scoop out flesh of avocados and place in bowl. Mash avocados with a potato masher until fairly smooth. Add cream, mayonnaise, lime rind and juice; mash and stir until smooth and well combined.

2. Stir in tomato, garlic and hot pepper sauce. Season to taste with salt. Scrape into serving bowl and sprinkle with coriander, if using. Yield: 18 servings, approximately 30 ml (2 tbsp) each.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2011 C1

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