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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sautéed Squash Side

(photos by Karen)

These gorgeous squash were grown by Kelly Ditz, recent MESA Honorable Mention Award winner and amazing produce grower. To buy directly next Autumn, contact Kelly at: (204)772-5486 for his full produce list. He also provides much of the vegetables for Elkhorn Resort and Spa.

Sautéed Squash with Pear

1 small squash or pumpkin (size of a small cabbage)- NOT Spaghetti Squash
1 ripe pear
1 tbs. butter
drizzle olive oil
freshly grated nutmeg
1 oz Frangelico
salt and pepper

Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Save seeds on paper towel to dry for planting in Spring. I used a small version of the bumpy salmon coloured squash in the top photo.

Cut seeded squash into four pieces to make peeling easier. Peel and slice into wedges. Heat a sauté pan to medium heat. Melt butter with a drizzle of olive oil. Place squash slices in pan and slowly cook for ~20 minutes or until soft and beginning to brown on both sides. Add chopped pear, salt and pepper. Turn heat to medium high after pear has softened and add the Frangelico. Allow the liquid to cook down a bit.

Can be prepared in advance and warmed up. A nice side dish for a wide range of holiday feasting.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter

(Tony, photo by Desmond)

(Desmond and Tony)

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
- Mahatma Gandhi

No, this isn't a recipe. Tony came into our lives a few weeks ago. We innocently went to the Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter to drop off a cat food donation. We saw Tony and wanted to care for him. He had been to the shelter three times. The wonderful staff at the Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter clearly cared for him and loved him. Now we are lucky to have Tony to love as well.

If you are looking for a pet, please look there first. If you are looking to donate to a cause with direct and immediate effects or to volunteer, please contact the Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter.

Shelter Location & Hours

The Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter is located in Winnipeg, Manitoba in the heart of Canada.

3062 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3K 0Y1

They are at the corner of Portage and Country Club Boulevard in St. James (one block west of the Grace Hospital)

Their hours of operation:
Monday to Friday -- 11am - 7pm
Saturday -- 11am - 6pm
Sunday and Holidays -- closed

Contact them at:
Telephone: 204.832.PETS (7387)
Fax: 204.889.8467

Saturday, October 25, 2008

It only tastes expensive

When I was younger, I made presents for my friends and family. Now I am older and I make presents again. Here are a couple of popular items to make and give away in jars. Nice for watching budgets but still feel extravagant.

Homemade Granola
I adapted this recipe from my parents' older version of the More with Less Cookbook

Preheat oven to 350ºF

1 large roaster (I use a large aluminum turkey roaster)
2.25 kg oats (you can reduce for your wants)
1/2 cup skim milk powder
up to 2 cups each sliced almonds, broken pecans, or other nuts that you enjoy
1 cup unsweetened medium coconut (optional)
1 cup roasted green pumpkin seeds (optional)

In a saucepan melt together:
1 cup molasses
1 cup honey
1/2 cup olive oil

Watch that the molasses and honey don't boil over but it is ready to pour into the oats mixture when it bubbles and foams up.
Mix well into oats and nuts and bake for 20- 30 minutes or until browning on top. Stir and bake for at least another 20- 30 minutes. While it is baking, soak dried fruit.

Dried Fruit (I always round quite up on these items and don't really measure at all)

1 cup dark raisins
1 cup craisins
1 cup cut dried apricots
1 cup pitted cut dates
All optional or what you may have on hand. At Christmas I use dried cherries. I also often use currants.

After turning and baking the granola, turn off heat and stir in drained fruit. Leave in oven until all dried.

Fill small sealer jars with granola for gifts.


Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Check out an earlier post for Chocolate Almond Biscotti and try the options. One option that I made today was Lavender Saffron Almond biscotti. I made lavender syrup and used chopped up lavender in the dough as well.

Fill small sealer jars or decorative boxes for gifts.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Turkish Baharat Roast Chicken and Persian Carrots

Turkish Baharat Roast Chicken

It is very easy to roast a chicken to moist perfection. A simple rule that I follow is to roast the meat for 20 minutes a pound at 350ºF. Each oven is different but the drumsticks should wiggle freely and the internal temperature can reach 180ºF.

VERY IMPORTANT! Always, always, always let meat rest after cooking. If you cut into the meat too soon, the juices run out leaving a dry and tough product.

Turkish Baharat Roast Chicken

1 roasting chicken
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 ribs celery, roughly chopped
4 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 rounded tablespoons Turkish Baharat
2 small heads garlic, sliced in half horizontally
1 tsp sea salt
1 small lemon, sliced open in half
1-2 tbs good olive oil

Place onion, celery, carrots, garlic and lemon in roasting pan. Sprinkle Turkish Baharat over the chicken and inside the chicken cavity. Sprinkle salt and drizzle olive oil over chicken. Place in preheated 350ºF oven for 20 minutes/pound (eg. 6 pound chicken = 2 hours). When chicken is done, remove from oven and let rest at least 10 minutes prior to carving.


Persian Carrots

4-5 medium carrots, sliced on the diagonal
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbs butter
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped dates
1 inch grated fresh ginger
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs brown sugar

In a sauté pan on medium high heat, sauté onions in butter until beginning to soften. Add sliced carrots and stir. After a few minutes, add the raisins, almonds, dates, ginger and salt and pepper. Continue cooking for several minutes until the carrots begin to soften. Add brown sugar and reduce heat until ready to serve.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Chilled Roasted Beet Soup with a Turkish twist

Chilled Roasted Beet Soup with Turkish Baharat

4-5 large Beets
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tbs Turkish Baharat
1 head roasted garlic
2-3 tbs good olive oil
1/4 cup champagne or sherry vinegar
1/2 - 2/3 cup orange juice
2-4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

On a hot BBQ, roast peeled beets wrapped in foil until soft, turning to prevent burning. Roast garlic at the same time.

In a large skillet or soup pot, sauté onion in olive oil on medium heat until soft and translucent. Add cut up beets and squeeze out garlic into pot. Sauté until vegetables have softened. Add Turkish Baharat and stir until softened. Add soup stock and season with salt and pepper to taste. If using golden beets, use white pepper.

Remove soup from heat and add orange juice and vinegar. Using an immersion blender or food processor, purée until smooth. When soup has cooled, chill in refrigerator at least over night.

Options: Top with a dollop of Creme Frâiche and sprinkle with a few threads of saffron.

OPTIONS: If using Chiogga beets, the soup will be a light pink colour. If using red beets, it will take on a deep velvety red colour while golden will remain a lovely golden colour.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Bengali squash and zucchini

This was taken from Mangoes and Curry Leaves.

In season now are such lovely zucchini and squash produce. Try this as a main or side dish.

4-5 small zucchini or yellow squash
2 tbs mustard oil
2 tbs vegetable oil
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black mustard seeds, crushed
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp sugar
pinch salt

Slice zucchini or squash lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Heat the oils in a large wok or a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the turmeric, mustard, cayenne and sugar and fry for about 10 seconds. Add the zucchini and cook, turning and moving the slices for about 3-5 minutes until softened through but not mushy.

Remove the slices and drain of oil. Sprinkle with salt and toss. Serve hot. If any oil is remaining, reserve for reuse.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

CBC's search for a new Hockey Night in Canada theme resulted in over 11,000 entries. Here is the entry by composer Randolph Peters.

You have to log in to vote. Click on Randolph Peters name to go directly to his piece. Vote early, vote often.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Been busy with Wedding catering

Greetings readers of recipes,

I've been busy with preparing and producing catering for a wedding on Saturday. I'm really happy with the results but am plum tuckered out. It was an appetizer menu with:


Bison Tenderloin Carpaccio
With Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Shitake Mushroom Bouchés
(see blog June 21st for recipe)

Grilled Udon Ahi Tuna Sashimi Spoons

Papri Chaat Station
Papri Chaat is both an Indian street snack food as well as the latest trend in entertaining. At the station, the server quickly puts together in a bowl, options for the guest. These vegetarian options include, pieces of samosas, spiced yoghurt, tamarind sauce, pakora pieces, chutneys, crisp mini puris, cucumber, etc. (See NYTimes article)

Rice/Salad Wrap Station
Prepared Rice and salad wraps and made to order with Chinese BBQ Pork, Lapsang Souchon Reduction on Roast Duck, assorted herbs, greens, meats and fish with assorted sauces

Chinese Coconut Buns

Seasonal Fruits

Coffee, Roasted Rice Tea, Raspberry Punch

Some recipes to follow.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Building burgers with Turkish Baharat

(photo by Desmond)
Featured in photo: Elk burger with Turkish Baharat and Fennel Sausage on Naan Bread from Halal Meats and Specialty Foods with Caramelized onions with new spice blend: Mitmita.

I took 2 pounds ground elk (you can use beef or bison as well)
2 Fennel Sausages from De Luca's
2 heaping tablespoons Turkish Baharat
1 tsp. Sea Salt
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses.

Mix all ingredients by hand and form into 1/4 lb patties. The spice blend gives it a flavour of Turkish kofta, the pomegranate adds a lovely tang and the fennel sausage has a wonderful flavour and aroma that when served in naan or pide with the yoghurt tahini sauce, you are transported to the Mediterranean.

Nice Summer enjoyment!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bison Filet with Saskatoon pan sauce

(Photo by Desmond)

Saskatoons are beautifully in season right now in the Prairies. They also freeze well to make this sauce at any time of the year. Also featured in the photo are oven baked yam "fries".

4 small Bison filets (medallions or small steaks)
olive oil

When sauce is prepared, grill tenderloin pieces for less than 3 minutes a side, depending on size, turning for grill marks. Allow meat to rest before cutting.

Saskatoon sauce
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups Saskatoons, fresh or frozen
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 tsp thyme
3-5 juniper berries, crushed
1-2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
couple pinches salt (I used red clay Hawaiian for this recipe but try different kinds)
1 tbs butter
1/2 cup scotch whiskey*

Sauté onion in olive oil until translucent. Add thyme and crushed juniper berries. Stir in Saskatoon berries and mustard, salt and pepper and let cook down. Add scotch and butter and cook until simmering and Saskatoon berries are soft. Remove from heat. When cooled a bit, use an immersion blender or other food processor and blend until smooth. Bring up to temperature when meat is ready to rest. Place bison pieces on plate and spoon Saskatoon sauce over meat.


*the Scotch and the juniper berries add to the wild flavour of the bison. Elk or beef can also be used. Cognac or port could be substituted but they have more sugars.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A new spice blend in town - Turkish Spice Blend – Baharat

Turkish Spice Blend – Baharat

I had the good fortune to work for a while on a small boat in Turkey as a chef/sailor. I was reminded of the spices and herbs there that brought out the flavours of the Mediterranean Sun and the Aegean Sea. I’m now offering a spice blend that can be used for a variety of recipes to follow on my blog. Turkish Baharat can be used on chicken, lamb, seafood, and grilled veggies, especially eggplant.

Contact me directly or look for this blend in stores.

(photo by Desmond, also featured grilled Organic Manitoba Asparagus)

Grilled Turkish Chicken on Pide (Serves 2-4 people)

4 Boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 tbs Turkish Baharat*
3-4 shallots, grated or one small onion grated
2 tsp lime juice
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/4 tsp paprika (can used smoked)
pinch salt and pepper

Combine Turkish Baharat, grated shallots, lime juice, olive oil, paprika and salt and pepper in a bowl. Place chicken thighs in the bowl and cover completely with the marinade. Place in fridge and let marinate for 6 hours. Grill 4 minutes a side on a very hot BBQ grill.

To enjoy in a Pide, let chicken pieces rest before cutting into strips. Grill Naan or Pide** on BBQ and spread on a bit of yoghurt tahini sauce (recipe follows).

Yoghurt tahini sauce

1/2 cup good plain yoghurt
1 clove garlic, minced
3 heaping tbs tahini
2 tsp lemon or lime juice
pinch salt

Mix all ingredients together. The tahini will cause the sauce to thicken quickly. Use on grilled Pide or Naan or as a crudité dip.


*Baharat is a blend of spices that can be purchased directly through myself or coming soon to a few Winnipeg retail shops.

**Good Naan or Pide can be found at Halal Meat Centre and Specialty Foods at 206 Maryland and Dino's Grocery Mart at 460 Notre Dame Avenue in Winnipeg.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Shitake Mushroom Bouchés

Delicious one-bite appetizers can be made using pastry bouchés or crostini toasts. They are very nice for entertaining and the filling can be made in advance.

Shitake Mushroom filling

2 cups sliced fresh Shitake mushrooms
1 head roasted garlic
4-5 Shallots, diced
2 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. Butter
1/3 cup cream
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper
Crostini (sliced baguettes) or bouchés

Sauté shallots in olive oil until translucent. Add sliced Shitake Mushroooms and sauté on medium high heat until they begin to brown in the butter. Add roasted garlic, smoked paprika and white wine. Let cook down a little. Add cream and season to taste. Spoon onto crostini and toast in oven or into bouchés and serve while hot.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Grilled Pomegranate Chicken with Ras el Hanout

Grilled Pomegranate Chicken thighs with Ras el Hanout
(serves 2 for 4 chicken thighs)

2 tablespoons Ras el Hanout*
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses** (can also use pomegranate juice)
1/4 cup good olive oil
splash orange blossom water (optional)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch salt
1/4 – 1/2 chopped peel preserved lemon*
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs

Mix first 7 ingredients together well to blend in the olive oil. Place chicken thighs in marinade in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1-4 hours. Place chicken thighs on a hot BBQ for up to 4 minutes a side, turning NOT flipping every two minutes for grill marks.

Let meat rest and enjoy with grilled Naan bread, salad, rice, etc.

*Ras el Hanout can be used as a spice rub for your BBQ meats, in vegetable stews (recipe in blog), on roast chicken, lamb, goat, etc.

**Orange blossom water, pomegranate molasses and preserved lemon are available at Halal Meat Centre and Specialty Foods at 206 Maryland and Dino's Grocery Mart at 460 Notre Dame Avenue in Winnipeg.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Another Sublime Experience

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of being the guest chef with a fine group of gentlemen from Les Marmitons. There are few such rewarding and delightful experiences as a chef as sharing in culinary learning and discovery with such a positive group of people. What follows are the recipes from that menu. Due to the presence of a Les Marmitons guest from their first club chapter, we wanted to focus on Manitoba products. For people interested in the recipes outside of the Manitoba area, feel free to contact me for substitution ideas. Photos are coming soon. Some of these recipes are for 20 people.

I wish that you all will be able to have the Friendship to Gastronomy experience. Enjoy!

1. Chilled Roasted Beet Soup

4-5 large Beets
1 head roasted garlic
1 large yellow onion, medium chopped
2-3 tbs good olive oil
1/4 cup champagne or sherry vinegar
1/2 - 2/3 cup orange juice
2-4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

On a hot BBQ or in oven, roast peeled beets wrapped in foil until soft, turning to prevent burning. Roast garlic at the same time.

In a large skillet or soup pot, sauté onion in olive oil on medium heat until soft and translucent. Add cut up beets and squeeze out garlic into pot. Sauté until vegetables have softened. Add soup stock and season with salt and pepper to taste. If using golden beets, use white pepper.

Remove soup from heat and add orange juice and vinegar. Using an immersion blender or food processor, purée until smooth. When soup has cooled, chill in refrigerator at least over night. Top with a dollop of Creme Frâiche and sprinkle with a few threads of saffron.

2. One Bite Pickerel Cheeks on Potato Pancakes

Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

3 medium potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 onion, shredded
2 eggs
1/4 cup flour or maztah meal
salt and pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp paprika (optional)

Pickerel cheeks and vermouth or your favourite clear liquor.
Olive Oil
S & P
Crème Fraiche
Golden Caviar

Mix potato pancake ingredients together and fry in pancake size in a little olive oil until golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat and using cookie cutters, cut bite sized pieces from the pancake.
Sauté pickerel cheeks and deglaze with vermouth.

Top each latke bite with a pickerel cheek, crème fraiche and golden caviar. Each bite was served on a Chinese style soup spoon.

3. Arctic Char with sautéed morels wrapped in phyllo topped with a savory Saskatoon berry sauce

2 boxes Phyllo pastry sheets
Arctic Char Filets
1/4 case morels
1lb butter
Salt and pepper

For the Sauce:
2 cups Saskatoon berries
1/2 cup chopped Shallots
2-3 Tbs. Butter
pinches of thyme, rosemary, summer savory
Salt and pepper
1 tbs Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup port

Sauté morels in 1-2 tbs butter with 1-2 tbs olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Deglaze with a good splash of vermouth. Set aside and let cool.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Moisten a large tea towel and place damp over thawed sheets of phyllo. For each filet of Arctic Char, use 2-3 sheets. Have melted butter ready to brush onto phyllo. Place filet on phyllo topped with sautéed morels. Fold phyllo over to make a small bundle. Place on baking sheet and brush with melted butter. Bake for 20 minutes, when pastry is golden brown.

In a saucepan, soften chopped shallots in butter. Add berries, herbs and salt and pepper. When cooking softly, add mustard and blend in well. Add port and allow to cook down slightly. Adding more butter at this point can help to thicken sauce.

4. Elk Kebabs in a Turkish marinade on Couscous pilaf and sautéed fiddleheads in brown butter and pancetta

Elk Roast, cut into cubes and pounded
1-2 medium onions
4-5 cloves garlic, minced or grated
3-4 tomatoes
1 tbs oregano
2 cups dry red wine
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp chilies
1 tbs chopped rosemary
salt and pepper

Pound meat cubes. In a large non-metallic bowl, grate onions and tomatoes. Mix in remaining ingredients and immerse meat into marinade. Skewer meat and grill until cooked but tender.

Couscous Pilaf
3 cups couscous
2 onions, chopped
1 cup almond slices
Healthy pinch saffron
1/4 cup warm milk
3-4 tbs olive oil
4-5 cups water or stock
Options: 1 cup frozen peas, 1/2 cup soaked raisins

In a large pot, sauté chopped onions in olive oil over medium heat. Add dry couscous, almond, and other options. Stir until couscous is coated. Add water or stock and saffron with warm milk. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and turn off heat. After 5 minutes, loosen couscous with fork.

Fiddlehead Ferns with Brown Butter and Pancetta

One of the special treats of spring are fiddlehead ferns, which grow wild along mossy stream banks. They are simply the immature leaf fronds of ostrich fern plants that have not yet opened. Fern leaves are poisonous once they open and can only be enjoyed in this early stage, when they taste like a cross between artichokes and asparagus.

After a fiddlehead is removed from the stalk, the cut end starts to turn brown. Be sure to trim back the stem (about 1/4 inch) to the healthy green section before cooking.

Kosher salt
3 pounds fiddle head ferns, trimmed and washed
1/4 lb chopped pancetta
6 tablespoons brown butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large pot bring 2 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Fill a medium bowl halfway with ice water. Drop the fiddleheads into the pot and cook for 1 minute. Drain the fiddleheads in a colander, then submerge in the ice water until completely cool. Let the fiddleheads drain well in a colander and wrap them in a clean kitchen towel to dry.
2. Slowly brown butter in a large skillet. Bring up to higher temperature and cook chopped pancetta.
3.Heat for a minute or two until they are warm, then divide the fiddleheads among the plates. Serve at once with kebabs and couscous.

5. Raspberry Curd Pavlova

4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180ºF.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw a 9-inch circle on the paper, using a 9-inch plate as a guide, then turn the paper over so the circle is on the reverse side. (This way you won't get a pencil mark on the meringue.)
Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 1 minute. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 2 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula. Pile the meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it within the circle, making a rough disk. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
Invert the meringue disk onto a plate and spread the top completely with sweetened whipped cream.

Sweetened Whipped Cream:
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until firm. Don't overbeat!
Yield: 1 cup

Raspberry Curd:
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbs. butter
2 large eggs

Using a bain marie (mixing bowl over pot of ~ 1-2 cups simmering boil water), melt butter. In a separate bowl, mix sugar, eggs and raspberries. Whisk into melted butter and continue mixing until custard texture. Remove from heat and let cool. Use over whipped cream on pavlova.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Retro Revisited - a tautological recipe?

(photo by Desmond)

Baked Deviled Eggs

We adapted this 1972 recipe when we started using local organic happy eggs.

Tomato Sauce for Baked Deviled Eggs
(Serves 2-3)

1 medium onion
1 head roasted garlic
2 tbs good olive oil
1 large tin organic tomatoes (crushed)(I also often use tomatoes that I've frozen and then oven roasted)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp crushed chillies
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp chopped basil
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1 tbs brown sugar (cuts the acid and balances flavours)
pinch sea salt

In a medium saucepan on medium heat, sauté slivered onion in olive oil. When translucent, add tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium low. Add spices, garlic and red wine. When cooked through, you can blend sauce using an immersion blender.

For the Eggs and filling

3-4 Hard-cooked eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons Mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Pinch salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Pour Sauce into flat baking dish or casserole dish, reserving 1 tablespoon sauce for egg filling. Cut cooked eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and mix with the reserved sauce, mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Fill egg whites with the mixture and place in sauce. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until tops of eggs are lightly browned and sauce bubbles. Serve with good bread or baguettes.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Elk Moussaka

(Photo by Desmond)
Elk Moussaka

When I left Turkey, I never really enjoyed moussaka as I had in Turkey. It was the thick, often cloying high fat and flour Béchamel sauces that topped the moussaka that often had me choking. It never tasted like the moussaka that I had and made on the boat in the Aegean. That is because it wasn’t topped with the béchamel but rather, almost a custard with yoghurt. I’ve also adapted this recipe for elk but lamb or beef can also be used. Vegetarian options are also easy to adapt to this recipe.

1 large chopped onion
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1 lb ground elk (lamb, bison or beef)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup elk stock (recipe follows but other stock may be used)
1/2 cup red wine
2 large eggplants (aubergines)
olive oil

2 eggs
2 1/2 cups yoghurt
2 rounded tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Slice eggplants into large rounds and drizzle a fair amount olive oil. Lightly grill slices on a BBQ at high heat or fry in olive oil until lightly brown. I find that grilling the eggplant is faster and uses less oil. If the eggplants were not the freshest, first soak the slices in salted water for at least an hour and then rinse and squeeze out extra moisture. After grilling, set eggplant slices aside.

Fry onion, garlic and bay leaf in olive oil on medium low heat for 15 minutes until the onions are tender but not browned. Add the ground elk and cook, stirring, until the meat has browned. Add oregano, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Add chopped tomatoes to saucepan and the stock and wine. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cover the pan. Simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Layer the eggplant slices and alternate with the meat mixture, ending with a layer of eggplant. Pour yoghurt mixture of yoghurt, eggs, flour, salt and pepper and nutmeg over the top of the moussaka. Bake in a preheated 350ºF oven for about 1 hour until the topping is set and brown. Allow the moussaka to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Optional: try with zucchini, spinach or potato slices


Rich Elk Stock

(Hyperlink to an excellent chef's blog from where I adapted this recipe)

2 small Elk Osso bucco pieces
4 carrots, peeled and large diced
3 celery, large diced
2 Spanish onions, large diced
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 leek
1 bunch parsley
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
8 peppercorns
1 cup red wine

1. Place elk osso bucco or elk roast bones in a large roasting pan and roast in a 375ºF oven for 45 minutes, or until the bones begin to become golden brown.
2. Place the onions, celery and carrots on top of bones and place back in oven and roast another 30 minutes or until the vegetables begin to brown.
3. Coat bones with tomato paste and place back in the oven again and roast until tomato paste until it starts to brown but do not let it burn, approximately 15 minutes.
4. Place bones and vegetables into a large stock pot along with remaining ingredients. Cover the bones with cold water and bring pot to a simmer.
5. While bringing the pot to simmer, place the roasting pan over a burner and add the red wine. Scrap the bits from the bottom of the pan using the wine to deglaze the pan, add wine and bits to the stock pot.
6. Once water comes to a boil, set to a low simmer, and skim the stock of scum and fat for the first two hours.
7. Leave stock pot on a low simmer for about 4 hours. Periodically skim excess fat from the top of the pot and add water if necessary.
8. Remove pot from heat and strain stock through a fine sieve. Place into individual containers and store in the refrigerator for up to a week or the freezer for up to a month.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Kulich, Russian Easter Bread, aka Paska

When we bought our Kitchen Aid mixer, I made a deal with my husband Desmond that he would have to use it at least 50% of the time. The Kitchen Aid is a great tool and Desmond has taken to baking, even successfully creating my Großma's very complex Russian Easter Bread. I will include bread machine variations, but for purists, have some feather pillows and coffee tins (sans edges) on hand.

When melting the shortening and butter, Desmond added a healthy pinch of saffron.

(photos by Desmond)

Kulich (Paska)(and notes by Großma)

4 pkg. yeast, dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water with 1 tsp. sugar
4 cups scalded milk
15 to 20 eggs
4 cups sugar
1 cup butter plus 1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp. salt
4 cups four, and later, enough to make a soft dough
1 tsp cardamom
2 tsp vanilla
grated rind (zest) of lemon and orange
juice of one lemon

Soften yeast in warm potato water for 10 minutes. Then add a bit of flour to make a very soft sponge. In the mean time, scald the milk, pour over the 4 cups of flour and beat until very smooth. Cool this mixture slightly. Beat egg yolks with 2 cups sugar and add to the warm flour mixture. Add the stiffly beaten egg whites, and while this is still warm, add the yeast mixture and let this rise until it is light. Then add the softened butter and shortening, salt and 2 cups sugar. Add enough flour to make a smooth medium soft dough. Let this rise to double its bulk.

Traditionally these are baked in honey pails, greased well, sprinkled with crumbs. However, it is easier to line bottom and sides of tins with waxed or parchment paper. Fill one third with dough. Let rise until light. Bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes, then 325ºF for 15 minutes for a total of 30 minutes.

Alternate directions from Großma:

Flour, eggs, fat, butter should be at room temperature. Soften yeast, scald 4 cups milk, put 2 cusp sugar, 1/4 cup shortening and salt, cardamom in milk. Milk and yeast and make sponge with 3 cups flour. Let rise 1/2 hour until it bubbles. Always keep warm. Separate eggs and beat 10 egg whites. The 15 yolks beat with 2 cups sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add 1 cup butter and 1/4 cup shortening to this and beat. Add all other ingredients and eggs, sugar and whites and mix it with the sponge. Add flour to make soft dough and knead it. Knead a LONG time. Let rise until double in bulk, 1-2 hours. Fill pans 1/3 full. Let rise another 1-2 hours. Keep kitchen free of drafts and dough warm.

Bake 350ºF for 30 minutes. If bread is getting too brown, tent with foil.

After taking out of oven, put tin on rack for 5 minutes. Take out of form and put on feather pillows. Roll occasionally, if too tall.

Icing: Icing sugar and lemon juice and sprinkle with decorative sugar.
P.S. The remaining egg whites were usually made into Floating Island Pudding. Beaten egg white, sugar, vanilla poached in milk, made into a custard sauce (thickening and sugar and vanilla). Serve Cold.

Paska (Kulich) for Bread Machine

1 cup water
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp. powdered milk
4 tbsp. (1/4 cup) butter
6 tbsp. sugar
1 -1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/2 cups white flour (all purpose)
1-1/2 tsp yeast
orange and lemon zest
a bit of lemon juice (not quite 1/2 lemon)
1/4 tsp cardamom, powdered
3 tbsp. slivered almonds
1/2 cup raisins (may be too much)
The final two ingredients added later

Arthur's Bread Machine Recipe

7/8 cup water
2 tbsp. milk powder
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 egg yolks, plus 1 whole egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1-1/4 cup flour
2 or 3 tsp. orange and lemon zest
1-1/2 tsp yeast
1/4 tsp cardamom (optional)
Raisins (optional)

Enjoy and Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lemon Curd (from Larousse's Gastronomique)

(Lemon Curd Meringue Tart)

Finely grate the peel of 2 large lemons. Squeeze them and reserve the juice. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a double saucepan over a very gentle heat. Gradually add 1 cup superfine sugar, 3 beaten eggs, the grated lemon zest and the lemon juice. Stir until thickened. Put into sterilized jars while still hot and cover with wax paper, pressing the paper on the surface of the lemon curd. Leave until completely cold before covering the jars.

For 100 milers, I made this with local Raspberries instead of lemons and it was delicious over a pavlova.

Serve on bread or fill in tartlet shells.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Blood Orange/Meyer Lemon Marmalade

If there is a food that makes you get through the winter and feel alive, I'm certain that its this Blood Orange/Meyer Lemon Marmalade.

I'm making a huge batch of this today. Making marmalade is labour intensive but with great results. I've put a small batch recipe up as I'm making marmalade from whole cases of blood oranges and Meyers Lemons.

Fruit - 8 whole blood oranges, thinly sliced (4 cups cut)
3 whole Meyers lemons, thinly sliced (1 ½ cups cut)
Orange juice or Water - 4 cups of either. I use orange juice instead of water, for extra flavor.
Sugar - about 4 cups of sugar

1. Select the fruit

If you live in Florida or southern California you can go pick your own Oranges in January and February! Otherwise, you'll have to go to the grocery store for the oranges and lemons. This is NOT part of the Manitoba 100 mile diet. I went to F.O.O.D. for my organic Blood Oranges and Meyers Lemons.

Pick fresh oranges and lemons that are not soft, moldy or discolored.

2. Wash the fruit
Canning really requires everything to be clean.

3. Get the jars and lids washed

I rinse the jars and lids in the large pot of boiling water after washing. Leave them in the hot water for a few minutes.

4. Remove the outer part of the peel

Take a look at Step 10 - if you are going to use method 10a, then with a vegetable peeler, remove only the coloured part of the peel and set it aside. This outer portion of the peel is what give marmalade its bitter taste. If you like it, chop it finely and set it aside. I chopped it with a double mesa luna.

If you don't like the bitterness, then you are going to use the method Step 10b, so just then just peel the fruit with your hands as shown in step 5 (and skip step 4)

5. Remove the remaining rind

Hold the citrus fruit with the stem end up and using a very sharp knife, cut off the pith (white part)and discard.

6. Slice the oranges and lemons in half

Cut the fruit in half, across the segments.

The tough, white part in the center must be cut out and discarded.

Save any juice that leaks out.

7. Chop the oranges and lemons

Next, slice the two halves into thin slices

And then chop the slices up a bit! Remove and discard any seeds or tough parts of the orange that you find in the process.

Save any juice that leaks out.

8. Measure out the sugar

You'll need to follow the directions that come with the pectin, but generally, the lower sugar pectin recipes call for about 4 cups of sugar per box, and the regular pectin calls for 7 cups of sugar.

Mix the dry pectin with about 1/4 cup of sugar and keep this separate from the rest of the sugar.

9. Mix the chopped oranges with the pectin

Stir the pectin into the chopped fruit. Put the mix in a big pot and set aside for a moment.

10. Cook the fruit - With Peels or Not?

Peels add the bitterness to marmalade, but some people do not like marmalade because it is bitter.

10a. With the Peels:

Bring the mix to a boil. Cover it, turn down the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the chopped fruit and simmer for 10 minutes more.

10b. Without the peels

If you want a less bitter taste, skip the preceding and instead place the chopped fruit and 4 cups of water or orange juice in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes

11. Add the sugar and return to a boil

Add the sugar and bring the mixture back to a full boil.

12. Bring the mixture to a full boil

Stir the mix and bring it to a full boil, hard, for one minute.

13. Fill the jars and put the lid and rings on

Fill them to within 1/4 inch of the top, wipe any spilled jam off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. Then put them into the boiling water canner!

14. Process the jars in the boiling water bath

Keep the jars covered with at least 1 inch of water. Keep the water boiling. Boil them for at 15 minutes.

15. Done

Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight)

It may take up to two weeks for the marmalade to set and thicken up. It will be runny until then!

Once cooled, they're ready to store. They last about 18 months. After that, the marmalade gets darker in colour and starts to get runny. It is still safe to eat. So eat them in the first 12 to 18 months after you prepare them!

In Winnipeg, I've also seen Blood Oranges at DeLuca's Specialty Food Store, Restaurant, Catering, Cooking School 956 Portage Ave. Winnipeg, MB