Margaret’s Table on TV: A preview

| September 2, 2010 | 0 Comments


Margaret Dickenson's kitchen became a TV studio this fall. Here, the camera captures her Coconut-Crusted Shrimp.

Margaret Dickenson's kitchen became a TV studio this fall. Here, the camera captures her Coconut-Crusted Shrimp.

Are you one of those ardent viewers of TV cooking shows? Many people do spend hours each day watching a myriad of chefs stir, toss, sauté, purée and whatever. Well, this fall, I am again joining the ranks of those zealous chefs who attempt to share their own brand of culinary skills with viewers — or who simply strive to provide great entertainment.
Actually, Margaret’s Table is both a cooking and a lifestyle show. Each half-hour episode consists of six segments. Four are devoted to cooking, another to a decorating tip, and, finally, a sign-off signature tip. The concept is mine. I chose the themes (for example “Creating a wow breakfast,” “The ultimate stacked dinner,” “Crêpes go exotic”) and have written all the scripts.
The filming took place in our home with only a producer, a cameraman and one volunteer. My dear husband, Larry, and a special friend also offered their assistance.
From a technical point of view, each segment had to be done at least three times. First, there was a dry run with voice and action but no product, then a real take, followed immediately by close-up shots featuring selected actions. Being well organized helped make the project great fun.
The series is on Rogers (Channel 22) and will also be available on Rogers on Demand, a free service for Rogers Cable subscribers.
Let’s take a peek into one of the episodes. The philosophy behind “An all-seasons menu” is that one can rely on certain products being on the market all year round, offering a sense of security, particularly when entertaining.
Smart choices for appetizers include smoked salmon, pâté, scallops, shrimp, escargots and even sushi. Be inspired, and remember not everything needs to be homemade. Do what suits you. For family meals or more casual occasions, you may want to start with an enticing salad.
Dealing with the main course, the standard wide selection of meat, poultry, fish and seafood is always in abundant supply. Only some species of seafood and fish, such as mussels and Arctic Char, are more seasonal. When cooking these on a cooktop or in an oven, the time of year is irrelevant.
On the other hand, if you prefer to use your outdoor grill, even in wintery weather, by all means do so. Yes, you may have to shovel a path through the snow to reach your barbecue grill, or perhaps, like myself, it’s simply a matter of rolling it out of the garage and onto the driveway. (Note of caution: Keep the vehicle a safe distance from the barbecue.) For those who want to avoid barbecuing in inclement weather, I suggest investing in a heavy grill pan or two. Set on top of a cooktop, they can be a reasonably acceptable alternative to outdoor grilling. Broiling your food is another alternative.
As for main course accompaniments, who isn’t thrilled to have a continuous year-round supply of asparagus, baby potatoes or mini vegetables at their disposal?
For desserts, berries in some creative form are on my all-seasons menu. Strawberries, blackberries and blueberries are particularly dependable, whether fresh or frozen. Everyone will dive into a berry dessert.
And remember, regardless of the month, easily available fresh herbs bring freshness to plates. They are well worth their small price tag.
Attached is the perfect example of how a great summer salad can be conveniently adapted for year-round enjoyment. I have taken a delectable trio of principal ingredients (Bocconcini cheese, grape tomatoes and olives) and then dazzled the palate with a generous infusion of fresh herbs. The beauty of this salad is that practical substitutes may be made for the tomatoes and herbs. Served in individual large bistro bowls, the salad is allowed to breathe while the wide rims artistically frame it.
Bon Appétit!
Bocconcini Tomato Salad with Fresh Herbs
Makes 5 cups or 1.25 litres (4 servings)

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) red cherry/grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) yellow mini tomatoes*, cut in half
1 1/4 cups or 8 oz (300 mL/225 g) sliced mini Bocconcini cheese
1 cup (250 mL) marinated black olives**, whole and unpitted
2 1/2 tbsp (38 mL) fresh whole tarragon leaves***
3 to 4 tbsp (45 to 60 mL) vinaigrette, a mustard herb type
1 tbsp (15 mL) balsamic vinegar
To taste salt and crushed black peppercorns
Garnish (optional)
fresh sprigs of tarragon or herbs of choice (e.g., cilantro, dill, chevril)

1. Just before serving, toss ingredients together in a large bowl. (Be generous with fresh tarragon leaves and crushed black peppercorns.)
2. Garnish with sprigs of fresh herbs and serve.
* Option: Yellow or orange bell pepper (cut into 2/3 inch or 1.5 cm squares); small green or yellow zucchini (sliced)
** Sun-dried black olives are excellent.
*** Option: dill weed, cilantro or herb of choice; but tarragon is our first choice.
Do-ahead tip: Hours in advance of serving, the ingredients may be prepared (i.e., tomatoes cut, cheese sliced and tarragon leaves removed from their stems.)

Margaret Dickenson is author of the Margaret’s Table – Easy Cooking & Inspiring Entertaining.
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Category: Delights

About the Author ()

Margaret Dickenson wrote the awardwinning cookbook, Margaret’s Table — Easy Cooking & Inspiring Entertaining (

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