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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Say Cheese! Canadian Cheese

Cheese of Canada

I had such fun the other day presenting recipe ideas at the MLCC Madison Square for the Assiniboine Park Conservatory. The theme was Cheese of Canada.

1. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Raclette, Pear and onion

2 whole wheat bread slices per sandwich
1-2 slices Raclette cheese per sandwich
2 slices pear (Bosc, red, golden, etc.)
2-4 onions, thinly sliced
2 tbs good olive oil
Salt and pepper
Port for deglazing
Dijon mustard on each slice of bread
Butter for outside of each sandwich

Slowly caramelize onions in a pan, season and deglaze with port when caramelized. To assemble sandwiches, spread mustard on inside of slices followed by pear, onion and cheese. Close sandwich and butter on both sides. Grill under the broiler or in a pan until browned and cheese has melted. Cut into quarters in the diagonal and serve immediately.


2. Fresh Mozzarella Tomato Salad

6-8 red ripe tomatoes, sliced
1-2 packages fresh mozzarella, cut into pieces or slices
1 cup basil leaves, whole or torn
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Lay out tomatoes and cheese on a plate, alternating and layering between them Sprinkle basil leaves over the plate. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle good olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the plate.

3. Baked Cheesy Pasta

1 pkg pasta (penne, farfale, rigatoni, etc.)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs butter
2 cups milk
1 tbs flour
½ tsp chipotle peppers
1 cup white wine
1 head roasted garlic
One cup each of grated cheeses (Trappist, Chevre- crumbled, Raclette, Ermite)

Bring a large pot of water to boil with salt and olive oil. Cook pasta under the time recommended on the package. In another large saucepot, heat olive oil and butter and sauté sliced onion. Add 1 tbs flour and cook through without browning flour. Add milk and incorporate all of onion flour mixture on the bottom of the pot. Bring to a gentle boil and add white wine. Season with dried chipotle peppers and roasted garlic.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cheese, cooked and drained pasta and sauce. Pour into a large baking dish and bake at 350F until sauce bubbles. Let rest and serve.

Options: Add cooked sausage, bacon or other smoked meats. Try a variety of cheeses. Sprinkle crisp onions on top.

4. Matar Paneer (peas with paneer)

1 medium-sized onion, chopped
~ 1 inch fresh ginger, grated or chopped
4-6 tbs vegetable oil
Paneer (available at Dino’s fresh or frozen or make at home)
1 whole dried hot red pepper
1 ½ cups light yoghurt with separated liquid
1 tbs ground coriander seeds
¼ tsp turmeric
3 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
3 cups shelled fresh or 2 packages thawed frozen peas

Blend onion and ginger in a blender with 1/3 cup water until you have a smooth paste. Heat oil in pot and place the hot red pepper and turn. Add blended onion mixture and cook until a light brown colour.

Add the coriander and turmeric, stirring for another minute. Add tomatoes and cook for another few minutes. Add yoghurt, salt and pepper. Mix well and let boil. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add peas and paneer pieces and simmer until peas are cooked.

5. Quick(ish) Tiramisu

1 pkg lady fingers
1-2 pkgs mascarpone cheese
1 cup sugar
1 fresh egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup fine cocoa powder
2 tall espressos
1 shot each of coffee liqueur, kirsch, Frangelico (optional)

Mix mascarpone, sugar, egg and vanilla. In a shallow bowl, combine espresso with liqueurs. Dip lady fingers into bowl and place in serving dish. Cover with some of the cheese mixture and then top with a sprinkling of cocoa. Repeat layering for 2-3 layers. Top with cheese mixture and then with cocoa. Let chill and set and serve.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tapas for the Conservatory

I had a lot of fun last night for a fundraising event for the Assiniboine Park Conservatory. Last night's theme was Tapas. I presented the following five easy recipes that are great for parties, entertaining, pot luck events, etc.

1. Serrano Ham with Arugula
5 oz arugula, separated into leaves
4 ½ tbs olive oil
1 ½ tbs orange juice
10 oz thinly sliced Serrano ham slices
salt and pepper

Place arugula in a bowl and pour in the olive oil and orange juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and toss well.

Arrange the slices of ham on individual serving plates, folding it into attractive shapes. Divide the arugula between the plates and serve.

2. Garlic Tomatoes

8 deep red tomatoes
3 fresh thyme sprigs, plus extra to garnish
12 garlic cloves, unpeeled
¼ generous cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425º. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and arrange, cut-side up, in a single layer in a large, ovenproof dish. Tuck the thyme sprigs and garlic cloves between them.

Drizzle the olive oil all over the tomatoes and season to taste with pepper. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes are softened and beginning to char slightly around the edges.

Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Season the tomatoes to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the thyme and serve hot or warm. Squeeze the pulp from the garlic over the tomatoes at the table.

3. Calamares with no-fail Aïoli

1 lb prepared squid (calamari rings, etc)
all-purpose flour for coating
corn, peanut or canola oil for deep-frying
lemon wedges, to garnish
aïoli, to serve

Dry squid and dust with flour. Do not season as the salt will toughen the calamares. Heat oil to 350 – 375º. Carefully add the rings in batches and deep fry for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oil and place on paper towels. Enjoy with aïoli.

1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 tbs white wine vinegar or lemon juice
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
salt and pepper
5 tbs extra virgin olive oil
5 tbs canola oil

Put the egg yolk, vinegar, garlic and salt and pepper in a food processor and blend well together. Slowly add the olive oil with the blade turning. When it starts to thicken, add more oil and blend until it is thick and smooth.

4. Sautéed garlic mushrooms
1 lb white mushrooms
5 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper
4 tbs flat leaf parsley, chopped
crusty bread

Trim off stems of mushrooms. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds- 1 minute, or until lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and sauté over high heat, stirring until the mushrooms have absorbed the oil in the skillet

Reduce the heat to low. When the juices have come out of the mushrooms, increase the heat again and sauté for 4-5 minutes until the juices have almost evaporated. Add lemon juice and season. Stir in parsley and cook for an additional minute.

Serve hot or warm with crusty bread.

5. Potato wedges with roasted garlic dip

3 lb potatoes
2 tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tsp salt

Roasted Garlic Dip

2 garlic bulbs, roasted
1 tbs olive oil
5 tbs sour cream
4 tbs mayonnaise
hot smoked paprika, to taste

Roast the garlic for 25 minutes at 350ºF until caramelized. Let cool enough to handle. Squeeze out and mash. Mix in a bowl with the sour cream and mayonnaise. Season with salt and paprika. Chill.

For the potatoes, cut each potato half into 3 wedges and place in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, garlic and salt and toss well. Transfer to a roasting pan and arrange in a single layer. Roast for 1- 1/14 hours, or until crisp and golden.

Serve immediately with roasted garlic dip.


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Kerala Shrimp an entrée or an appetizer

I had the pleasure of featuring this lovely Kerala classic shrimp dish on the Weekend Morning Show with Kerän Sanders. It is very popular at parties as an appetizer and with other dishes as an entrée.

Kerala Shrimp

1/4 kg small shrimp
1 tsp ground chilies
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp vinegar

1 tbs cooking oil (grapeseed oil or canola so as to not add flavour)
1 large onion, chopped
a few curry leaves
1/4 tsp. paprika or chili powder (depending on how spicy you like the food)
1 tsp coconut oil (optional)

Clean and marinate shrimp in chilies, turmeric and vinegar at least 1/2 hour before cooking.

Heat oil in pan and sauté onion until golden brown. Remove from oil and set aside. Fry the shrimp in the same oil until crispy. Then add the fried onion, curry leaves and optional paprika or chili powder on low heat. Add the coconut oil for good Keralan flavour. Test for salt and serve with rice, roti or chappati, etc.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

More warming soups

Last night I prepared the following soups for the Assiniboine Park Conservatory fundraiser at the MLCC. These should keep you warm in the upcoming winter. Photos coming soon.

1. Hot and Sour Soup

1 tbsp tree ear fungus soaked 1/2 hour (optional)
6 dried black mushrooms soaked 1/2 hour
24 dried day-lily buds soaked 1 hour
4 c vegetable stock
2 tsps corn starch
2 tsps sesame oil
1 lg egg lightly beaten
1/4 c finely julienned bamboo-shoot strips
4 ozs tofu block (medium) julienned
1/3 tsp salt
2 tbsps white vinegar
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 tsps soy sauce (thin)
2 tsps scallion thinly sliced

Soak tree ear fungus and Chinese mushrooms in 1 cup water each for half an hour and the day-lily buds in 1 1/2 cups water for half an hour. Drain the fungus and rinse. Cut off any hard knots. Cut into strips about 1/4-inch wide.

Remove the mushrooms from liquid. Cut off and discard the coarse stems and cut into 1/4-inch wide strips. Remove the day-lily buds from the liquid. Cut off and discard the hard knots at the end.

Remove 1/4 cup of the stock and set the remainder to heat in a 3-quart pot over a medium high heat.

Put the cornstarch into a small bowl. Slowly add the 1/4 cup cold stock and 1 tsp sesame oil. Set aside.

Beat the egg very lightly. Mix in 1 tsp sesame oil and set aside.

The stock should now be boiling. Add the tree ear fungus, mushrooms, day-lily buds, bamboo-shoot strips, tofu strips and salt to it. Bring it to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes. Now add the vinegar, white pepper and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer. Stir the cornstarch and stock mixture and add it to the pot. Stir and cook until the soup thickens slightly. Turn off the heat. Immediately pour in the beaten egg mixture in a steady stream, covering the surface of the soup with it. Stir gently.

Pour soup into individual bowls. Sprinkle with the sliced scallions and serve hot.

2. Green Mexican Corn Chowder

* 2 tbsp vegetable oil (30ml)
* 1 lb. tomatillos, husked and rinsed (454g)
* 1 x medium white onion, chopped medium dice
* 1 tbsp garlic, minced (15ml)
* 1 x large fresh poblano chili, stemmed, seeded, roughly chopped
* 2 x cups corn kernels, defrosted (500ml)
* 3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock (875ml)
* 1/2 cup of 35% heavy cream (125ml)
* 1/2 cup fresh Cilantro, washed, leaves only stalks removed, roughly chopped (125ml)
* Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Add half of the vegetable oil.
2. Cut the tomatillos in half from top to bottom and lay them cut side down in the hot skillet. Allow them to cook until the tomatillos have a deep golden brown colour, flip and roast on the other side for approximately 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and place in a bowl to cool slightly.
3. Set a large saucepan over medium heat, add the remaining oil and allow to heat for 30 seconds. Add the onion, garlic and the poblano pepper. Allow to cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. In a food processor, puree the onion mixture, the tomatillos and 1 cup of the corn. Puree the mixture until all is smooth, add 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the chicken broth slowly to thin out the mixture and help get it smooth.
5. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the mixture into a large pot. Set the pot over medium heat and stir in the remaining chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and add the heavy cream, remaining corn and chopped cilantro. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Ladle the warm soup into 6 bowls and serve immediately.

3. Acorn Squash Soup

1 Acorn Squash, seeded and baked
1 leek whites, sliced
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
1/4 cup lemon grass, chopped
3-4 cups broth
2 tbs olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Sauté leeks in a soup pot until soft. Add ginger and lemon grass. On medium heat, mix in baked squash and add broth. Bring to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and let cool. Using an immersion blender or in a food processor, purée soup. Serve hot or cold. Garnish with creme fraiche.

4. Dal

2 cups red lentils
1 medium onion, diced
1 inch ginger, grated
3-4 cloves garlic, grated
2 tbs curry spice blend
2-3 tbs olive or vegetable oil
2-3 tomatoes, diced
1 cup spinach leaves
~ 4-6 cups water
~ 1 cup yoghurt
salt, to taste
optional, 1 tbs brown sugar to round out taste and cut acid

In a larger pot, bring lentils and water to a boil. In a separate pan, heat oil and sauté onion until translucent. Add spice blend and cook until softened. Add ginger and garlic and be careful not to burn. When the water in the lentil pot is boiling, add hot onions and spices to the pot and stir. Simmer and add vegetables. Bring to a gentle boil. Stir in yoghurt and test for salt.

For a full protein, serve with rice.


5. Pluma Maus (Plum Soup)

4+ cups seeded plums
1 cinnamon stick
4-6 cloves
1-2 star anise
4-6 cups water
2 tbs corn starch
2+ cups sugar
¼ cup lemon juice

In a large pot, bring plums, spices, sugar and water to a boil, reserving one cup cold water and ½ cup sugar.

In a dry cup, mix ½ cup sugar with the corn starch. Whisk in the cold water and lemon juice and set aside until the plums have softened. Stir in to pot and let boil for at least one minute. Simmer and serve hot or cold plain, with vanilla ice cream, a egg white meringue pudding (floating island) or a cream of wheat pudding.