Search This Blog

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Warming soups

As featured Satuday morning on Kerän Sanders CBC Weekend Morning Show.

Curried Squash Soup

1 Squash, seeded and baked (small to medium sized)
1 medium onion, diced
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
2 tbs curry spices (add a pinch extra ground cinnamon and ground cloves)
4-6 cups broth (test thickness of soup)
1 cup yoghurt
2 tbs olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Sauté onions in a soup pot until soft. Add ginger and curry spices. On medium heat, mix in baked squash and add broth. Bring to a gentle boil. Stir in yoghurt. Remove from heat and let cool. Using an immersion blender or in a food processor, purée soup. Garnish with a bit of yoghurt.

Leek and Potato Soup

3-4 Leek whites, sliced
4-5 medium white or yellow potatoes, peeled and diced (keep in cold water to prevent browning)
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground white pepper
salt, to taste
1 litre broth (low-sodium chicken, eg)
1 cup whipping cream
1 tbs olive oil

In a soup pot, sauté the sliced leek whites with the olive oil on medium heat until they are softened and begin to turn translucent. Add diced potatoes and stir. Add seasoning and broth and bring to a boil. When the potatoes are soft, add the cream. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender or in a food processor, purée the soup. Return to stove and serve hot.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

A taste of Tuscany

I had the pleasure last night of presenting foods of Tuscany for a fund raising event for the Assiniboine Park Conservatory held at the Madison Square MLCC. Upcoming events are posted in the Leisure Guide.

Most Tuscan food is of the Slow Food variety such as Osso Bucco and other slowly grilled meats and stews. Here is a sampling of some more quickly prepared items that are specialties of the region. Photos coming later today.
2. Tuscan Squash Salad


1. Bruschetta con pomodoro e basilico

This is bruschetta in its simplest, tastiest form.

The next step in bruschetta assembly is rubbing the toasted bread with garlic, before or after sprinkling on the olive oil, and adding a pinch of salt.

* Italian or French bread, cut in 1/2 inch slices
* fresh, ripe, firm tomato, washed and coarsely chopped
* fresh basil leaves, whole or shredded
* olive oil, extra virgin, the best
* garlic, peeled, whole (optional)
* salt to taste

Grill or toast bread. Charcoal is great!

Place sliced bread under the broiler, in the toaster or best yet over a charcoal grill and toast.

Rub toast with a clove of garlic or not, depending on taste.

Drizzle with olive oil.

Spoon chopped tomato onto bread.

Scatter some basil. Alternatively, place the tomatoes, basil, garlic (chopped fine), olive oil and salt in a bowl and mix.

Set bowl at table alongside the toasted bread and simply spoon on mixture.

Some prefer to use sliced rather than chopped tomato.

2. Tuscan Squash Salad

1 lb squash (butternut, hubbard, or any small firm variety except spaghetti), peeled, seeded and cut in 5-inch slices
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbs honey, warm and divided into two parts
½ cup chopped walnuts
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs walnut oil
½ tsp kosher or sea salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
~ 6 cups mixed baby greens, lightly packed
½ cup crumbled feta

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Toss the squash and olive oil in a large bowl. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and lightly brush with half of the honey. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn and brush with the remaining honey. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the squash is cooked through. Some varieties take longer to cook.

While the squash is baking, toast the walnuts lightly. Whisk together the lemon juice, walnut oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Toss the greens with the vinaigrette in a large bowl and place on serving plates. Top with 3-5 slices of squash. Sprinkle with the walnuts and feta, season and serve while the squash is still warm.

3. Sage Butter pasta (Burro e salvia)

100g butter.
Bunch of fresh sage leaves
80g grated Parmesan
Black pepper.

Wash and dry the sage leaves. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the sage. Cook very gently over a low flame taking care not to let the butter burn. Pour over cooked pasta and stir through well together with freshly grated parmesan. This super-quick sauce is ideal with 'naked ravioli' (ravioli filling without the pasta) but is also suitable with any short pasta. In this case, drain the cooked pasta keeping back a little of the water. Return the pasta to the saucepan, add the sage and butter and stir over a low heat for a minute.

Remove from the heat and stir in a good helping of grated Parmesan.

The sauce should look smooth and creamy; if it has dried out too much, add a few drops of milk or fresh cream. Grind a little black pepper over when serving.

4. Tuscan beans (Fagioli all'uccelletto)

This is perhaps Florence's most famous dish. Some include Italian sausage.

1 pound small white cannellini or great northern beans, soaked overnight
2 sprigs of sage
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic
5 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1 14 oz can tinned Italian plum tomatoes

DRAIN the beans and simmer in fresh water to cover, with 1 sprig of sage and 1 tablespoon olive oil, for about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender, adding salt when the beans begin to soften.

IN a separate pan (large enough to hold the beans) heat the remaining oil on low heat with the garlic and the rest of the sage so that the flavors infuse, but do not brown

ADD the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes, then add the drained beans, season with salt and pepper, and cook for another 15 minutes or so. There should be a good amount of sauce.

5. Zabaione (Zabaglione)

6 eggs.
200g sugar.
100ml dry Vin Santo (or sherry).
Finger biscuits.

Beat the egg whites in a bowl until they form stiff peak. In another, larger bowl beat the yolks and sugar together until frothy, creamy and pale yellow. Add the egg whites to the yolks and blend thoroughly until the mixture is smooth and even; add the Vin Santo. Serve in dessert goblets with the biscuits.

This dish is rather rich and filling and is therefore a good snack for children who have lost their appetite or for those whose work is physically demanding. Luckily children also love it, though I would suggest leaving out the Vin Santo or sherry Zabaione (Zabaglione)

Pellegrino Artusi wrote, "I wish all children's food were as harmless as this, for there would certainly be fewer nervy and hysterical people around today if it were".

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here are a few recipe ideas to add to your holiday celebrations

1. Shitake Mushroom Gravy
2 tbs all purpose flour
1/2 cup dry Sherry
3 tbs butter
12 ounces fresh shitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
2 cups dried sliced Shitake mushrooms, rehydrated in hot water for 30 minutes (available in Asian markets)
1 tbs + 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary or 2 tsp dried
2 cups whipping cream
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon or 1 tsp dried
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 cup white wine

Mix flour and Sherry in a small bowl until smooth. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and rosemary and sauté until mushrooms soften, about 3 min. Add flour paste and cook for at least 1 minute, stirring so as not to burn. Add whipping cream, thyme and tarragon and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Boil until thickens to a light gravy and add white wine. Cook on medium until thickens.

Can be made in advance.


2. Southwestern Turkey with Garlic-Ancho Chili Paste

(from Bon Appétit, November 1994, by request of some cousins)

3 heads garlic, roasted
3-4 large dried ancho chilies, dry roasted, soaked, stemmed, seeded and torn into pieces
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup honey

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree until a smooth paste. Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.

Corn Bread Stuffing
A. Buttermilk Corn Bread
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup sifted all purpose flour
6 tbs sugar
1 tbs baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, diced
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Butter bottom of 9x9x2-inch baking pan. Mix first 6 ingredients in processor. Add butter and cut in, using on/off turns until mixture is a coarse meal. Can be done by hand with pastry whisk. Beat buttermilk and eggs in a large bowl to blend. Add cornmeal mixture to egg mixture and blend. Transfer to buttered pan.

Bake until cornbread is light golden brown on top and toothpick comes out clean when testing, about 30 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Can be prepared 1 day in advance.

B. Southwestern Corn Bread Stuffing

Buttermilk Corn Bread

6 tbs butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups chopped green bell peppers
4 large poblano chillies, stemmed, seeded and chopped
3 large jalapeno chilies, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage or 4 tsp dried sage
1 1/2 tbs dried oregano
1 1/2 cups crushed corn chips or corn nachos
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
3 large eggs, beaen to blend
1 1/4 ~ cups canned cream-style corn

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Cut corn bread into 4 equal pieces. Crumble 3 piecs onto large baking sheet. Bake until slightly dry for about 20 minutes Transfer to very large bowl.

Melt butter in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell peppers, all chilies, sage and oregano and sauté until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the corn bread. Mix in cilantro, corn chis and corn kernels. Season with salt and pepper. Mix eggs into stuffing.


To bake inside turkey, first line the cavity with some ancho chili paste and mix in enough cream corn to moisten stuffing. Fill cavities with stuffing. Any remaining stuffing can be baked in a covered buttered dish for about 40 minutes. Uncover to brown for about 15 minutes.

Cover turkey with the remainder of the ancho chili paste. Add celery, tomatoes and allspice to roasting pan. Roast turkey at 350ºF for 20 minutes/lb or until juices are clear and leg joints are loose. Use 1-3 cups chicken broth for basting. If turkey is stuffed, tent with foil and add up to 1 - 1/2 hours, depending on size of turkey..

Allow turkey to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. This is very important as if the turkey is not allowed to rest, the juices will run out and will result in a very dry turkey.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!