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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mexicalli Rose with the Assiniboine Park Conservatory and the MLCC

I had the pleasure of preparing Mexican regional specialties last night at the Grant Park MLCC for the Assiniboine Park Conservatory. The vegetables came from the local Organic foods supplier, Fresh Option Organic Delivery.

As an opener beverage, the guests were treated to a Tequila Flavor Rush.

Blanco Flavour rush

1 oz Tequila
Squeeze of Lime
3 oz Ginger Ale

Pour ingredients in order over ice.

1. Simple Guacamole
The beverage pairing was Carta Nevada Extra Dry (+68494)$12.49

1-2 ripe Avocados
Lime or lemon juice
Green onions
Chopped Tomatoes

Cut Avocado in half and with a heavy knife, cut into the seed and remove from fruit. Scoop out avocado from peel into a bowl and mash with lime or lemon juice, a few pinches of salt. Add any or all of the options and serve with tortillas.


2. Salsa Mexicana

The beverage pairing was Sol Especial (+415661) $1.65

Makes 1 1/2 cups


1/2 medium white onion, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
Hot green chiles to taste (usually 1 to 2 serranos or 1 small jalapeño), stemmed, seeded (if you wish) and finely chopped
12 ounces (about 2 medium-small round or 4 to 5 plum) red-ripe tomatoes, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons (loosely packed) chopped fresh cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off)
About 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt, to taste


Scoop the onion into a strainer, rinse under cold tap water, shake off the excess and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the green chile, tomatoes, cilantro and lime. Stir well, taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

3. Black Bean Soup with Orange Zest: Sopa de Invierno

The beverage pairings were Negra Modelo (+5615) $1.83 and Williams & Humbert Dry Sack Sherry (+13565)$12.72

I call this "winter soup" because to the hearty, filling base of black beans is added the bright taste of the oranges that make cold winter weather more bearable. In the mountains of Central Mexico, while not as cold as it is in the north, they are very happy to see those oranges from the lower altitudes roll into the markets in huge piles during the winter months.


* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 1 large clove garlic, minced
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 2 cups cooked black beans (if using canned beans rinse them well)
* ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
* 1 teaspoon orange zest
* 1 cup chicken stock
* 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or to taste
* ¼ cup plain yogurt
* chopped cilantro and scallions for garnish
Salt, to taste


In a large saucepan, heat the oil, add the onion and cook, stirring, until wilted and just beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the beans, orange juice and zest, chicken stock, lime juice and yogurt and cook until heated through.

Using an immersion blender, puree the stock to the desired consistency.

Serve hot, garnished with chopped cilantro and scallions. Makes 4 first course servings.

4. Cheese-filled Sweet Potato Patties: Tortitas de Camote

The beverage pairings were Beringer California Collection Chardonnay (+730326) $10.99 and Sutter Home Jargon Pinot Noir (+8137)$14.97

In most of Mexico, these fried patties are made with white potatoes, whereas in Veracruz they are made with sweet potatoes or yucca. This cheese-filled version is more versatile than most, because it can be served as an hors d'oeuvre as well as a side dish.


* 2 pounds sweet potatoes
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* salt to taste
* 1 pound queso fresco, farmer cheese or ricotta (not ricotta salata)
* Corn oil or vegetable oil for frying


Scrub the sweet potatoes, boil in their jackets until tender, cool and peel. Alternatively, prick them with a fork in several places, cook until tender in the microwave, cool and peel.

In a mixing bowl, mash the sweet potatoes, adding salt to taste, with a potato masher or fork to a smooth consistency. Add the flour and combine well. The dough should have a uniform consistency.

Using moist hands, shape into 8 large balls (for side dish servings) or 12 smaller ones (for appetizers or hors d'oeuvres.) Poke a hole into each and stuff it with about 2 teaspoons cheese for the smaller size or 1 tablespoon for the larger. Re-form the dough around the cheese to cover, and gently flatten each ball into a patty.

Fry the patties in about 1 ½" - 2" hot oil, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Makes 12 as an appetizer, hors d'oeuvre or buffet item.

5. Dulce de Camote y Naranja (Yams and Orange Dessert)

The beverage pairing was Rockstar Mango/Orange Cooler (+503961)$3.25

Fruit desserts, whether candied, crystallized or compotes, are among the most popular throughout the state of Chiapas. This one is more like a pudding, and may be served chilled or at room temperature, depending upon the time of year and the other courses being served. Chiapans have a collective sweet tooth, and the amount of sugar called for may be reduced if desired.


* 2 pounds yams, peeled and cut into chunks
* 1 pound sugar
* 2 cups orange juice


Boil yams until soft. Drain and allow to cool; mash until smooth.

Place the yam puree in a large, heavy bottomed pot with the sugar and orange juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly so mixture does not stick, until the bottom of the pot can been seen when stirring.

Remove from heat, allow to cool and serve at room temperature or chill in dessert dishes and serve cold.

Serves 8.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Patliçan Yogürtlü - Saturday on CBC Weekend Morning

Patliçan Yogürtlü

1 eggplant, sliced
olive oil
1 cup yoghurt
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
oregano, paprika and olive oil to garnish
baguette slices

Fry or grill eggplant slices until very well done. DO NOT UNDERCOOK EGGPLANT!

In a bowl, mix yoghurt, a couple of pinches of salt and minced garlic. Pour over hot cooked eggplant and garnish. Serve with bread.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Foods of Provence for the Assiniboine Park Conservatory

On Wednesday I enjoyed presenting foods of Provence as part of the fundraising efforts of the Assiniboine Park Conservatory. Please enjoy the following with the wine pairings supplied by the MLCC:

1. Fresh Goat Cheeses with Olive Oil and Herbs

This was paired with Cremant d'Alsace Blanc de Noirs - Willm (#803361) - $19.91

Chevre, tapenade, herbs and olive oil served with baguette as an appetizer.

2. Tomato “fondue” over eggs

The wine pairing was Beaujolais-Villages 2008 - Georges Duboeuf (#255810) - $15.03

1 yellow onion, crescent sliced
1 tomato per person, finely chopped or use puree
Olive oil
2 eggs per person
2-3 cooked eggplant slices
Salt and pepper
Minced garlic
Herbs d’Provence

Slice eggplant into small cubes and bake or fry with olive oil until dark brown and tender. Set aside. In a large sauce pan, sauté onion with olive oil and add tomatoes, seasoning and garlic. Add cooked eggplant and simmer until well incorporated. Spoon over soft fried, poached or boiled eggs and serve with baguette.

3. Provencal potatoes

Wine pairing was Côtes du Rhône 2007 – Domaine des Coccinelles (#6670) - $15.85

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25-30 minutes


2lb even sized potatoes, unpeeled
4-5 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 onions, thinly sliced crescents
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh mixed herbs
sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
flat leaf parsley sprigs to garnish


Put the potatoes in a saucepan with enough salted water to cover. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes, until barely tender. Remove the skin and slice the flesh into thick rounds. While the potatoes are cooling, heat 1 tbsp of the oil and half the butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and fry over a moderate to high heat, stirring, until they begin to colour. Add the garlic and fry until that also changes colour. Tip the whole lot into a bowl, mix with 1 tbsp of the parsley, half the mixed herbs, a sprinkling of sea salt, and black pepper. Keep warm while you cook the potatoes. Heat remaining oil and butter, add the potatoes in batches and fry until golden brown. Drain well. When the final batch is golden, lower the heat and return the rest of the potatoes to the pan together with the onion mixture and remaining herbs. Stir together, and cook until warmed through. Garnish with parsley sprigs.

4. Bouillabaise

The Wine pairings were Vouvray 2006 - Heritiers Dubois (#7064) - $16.99 and Côtes de Provence 2008 Rosé - Pere Anselme (#522052) - $12.17

For the soup broth:

Bones and shells from the fish and shell fish, completely rinsed
9 cups water
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
10 whole sprigs parsley

For the soup base:

2 large onions, chopped finely
10 garlic cloves, chopped roughly or crushed
2/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 cup parsley, chopped very finely
Salt and pepper to taste
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
Small handful fresh thyme leaves
3 to 5 long strips of orange rind (no white pith)
3 bay leaves
6 to 12 saffron stems
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped finely (remove seeds and white "ribbing")
1 pound frozen cod, thawed and chopped
1 cup dry white wine
A few splashes of Pernod

For the "body" of the soup:

3 to 4 pounds of various fish or shellfish.

Traditional bouillabaisse has no shellfish, but there is no harm in adding mussels, shrimp, crab or lobster if you feel like it.

There are many kinds of fish you can add to make this your own fish soup recipe. Haddock, red snapper, monk fish, sea bass, striped bass are all good choices. Just avoid the oily, fatty fish such as salmon or tuna, as these will overpower rather than blend in with the other ingredients.

I did use Ahi Tuna and pickerel for the soup and it worked out beautifully. I used a couple of pickerel fillets puréed into the soup base and some cheeks in the final soup product.

1. In a large soup pot, combine all the ingredients for the broth. Bring to a very light boil, and allow to simmer for 30 minutes or so.

2. Run the broth through a strainer, and keep it aside.

3. Heat the oil in the soup pot on medium low to medium heat. Add onions, garlic, parsley, fennel seed (1 teaspoon, not both), and salt. Saute until the onions are soft.

4. Add tomatoes, thyme, orange peel, bay leaves, pepper, saffron and jalapeno. Simmer for up to 30 minutes.

5. Return the fish broth to the soup pot. Add the pound of chopped fish and cook until fish is completely cooked.

6. Remove the orange peel (if it is in large strips) and bay leaves and put them aside. We do not want to puree them.

7. Either use a hand-held blender to puree the soup, or puree in a stand-up blender in batches. Add the bay leaves and orange peels back to the soup, and pour in the white wine and cook for 30 minutes to an hour. Add Pernod.

8. Add the various fish to the soup. Add the longest-cooking fish first so all the fish ends up cooked at the same time.

5. Provence Plum Tarts

The wine pairing was Sauternes 2005 - Chateau Saint-Michel (#328419, 375 ml) - $16.99

2-3 lbs pitted plums
½ cup water
1 cup sugar
1-2 tbs corn starch
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp lemon juice
Pinch salt
Tart shells

In a sauce pan, heat up plums and thyme. In a measuring cup, combine cold water, sugar, corn starch and lemon juice. Add salt. Cook up filling and boil for at least 1 minute. Fill tart shells and bake at 350F until shells are browned, about 14 minutes.

The evening was finished with the wine, Maury 2001 - Domaine de la Serre (#2942, 500 ml) - $24.92

Enjoy and Bon Appetite!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

MLCC Chef Event - Curry!

On Monday I had the great pleasure of presenting foods from some different regions of India. The following recipes are from Kerala in the far South of India and one from the Punjab region.

To Start:
Moscato d’Asti – Beviamo (Italy, #11883)$19.62

Kerala Shrimp

The wine pairings were Gazela Vinho Verde – Sogrape (Portugal, #3416) $8.44

Ripa Magna Corvina Verona 2007 (Italy, #6978) $18.75

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.

Kerala Cabbage Thoren

Paired with Kingfisher Premium Lager (India, #612606, 330ml) $2.93
“Simple Grog” Cocktail
1 part Gosling’s Black Seal Bermuda Rum (367672) $25.40
1 ½ parts Lime juice
Served with maraschino cherry and orange garnish

Cabbage Thoren
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
salt, to taste
2 tbs oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp black gram dhal or urdad dal *
1 large onion, finely chopped
1-2 green chillies, sliced thinly in rounds
a few curry leaves *
1/2 cup finely grated coconut *

1. Heat oil in a pot on medium high heat and add the mustard seeds.
The seeds will pop. Then add the dhal and fry until it becomes golden
brown. Add onion, green chillies, curry leaves and sauté. When
almost translucent add grated coconut and stir for a few minutes.
2. Toss in the cabbage and add salt to taste. Gently sauté until
water has been absorbed or evaporated.

Note: red and green chillies have a lovely appearance. Cauliflower,
beans, carrots and other vegetables can be prepared similarly.

Saag Paneer

Paired with Sancerre “Romains” 2007 – Fouassier (France, #495648) $23.52

Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé – La Playa (Chile, #719400) $13.17

1-inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
6+ cloves of garlic, peeled
1 fresh hot green chili, sliced roughly
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbs "curry powder" spice blend (I make my own but several excellent ones are available commercially)
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
~ 4 tbs vegetable or olive oil
6-8 cups chopped mixed greens (spinach, kale, chard, beet greens, sorrel, arugula, mustard greens, etc)
1 - 2 chopped tomatoes
1 cup yoghurt
1 tbs butter (optional)
salt, to taste
paneer (homemade or available at Dino's on Notre Dame in block or frozen)
1 tsp brown sugar

Place the ginger, garlic and green chili into a small blender with a few tablespoons of water and purée until you have a smooth paste. In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil and add the onion. When the onion is translucent, add the spices and cook on medium heat until the spices are soft. Then add the chopped tomato and the ginger, garlic, chili paste. When they have softened, add the greens, slowly so as to let them cook down and stir all together. Add the salt. When the greens have cooked down, add the yoghurt, butter if desired and remove from heat. Using an immersion blender or a blender, mix all of the ingredients into a purée. Return to heat and add the fried or non-fried paneer. Cook slowly with a lid so as to not have the hot vegetables bubble up and burn you.

Serve with rice or naan or other flat breads.

Dessert was an Indian Style icecream of Pistachio Kulfi paired with Amarula Cream Liqueur (South Africa, #342246) $25.99

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Today on CBC Weekend Morning

This morning on the CBC radio show, Weekend Morning with Kerän Sanders, I had the opportunity to present this lovely recipe that is perfect for a cold winter dinner.

I used elk shank from Stonewood Elk. Stonewood Elk Products Ltd. (Where to buy: Carver’s Knife; Organza Market; Vita Health Stores; Miller’s Super Value Meats; Forks Market; Minnie’s Handmade Ethnic Treats Inc. (Selkirk)). You might also be interested in a wonderful local and ethically raised veal product from Red River Valley Veal.

Osso Bucco:
1 cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 pieces Beef, Bison or Elk for osso bucco
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 lemon, zest peeled off in wide strips with a vegetable peeler
1 head garlic, cut horizontally through the middle
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bottle dry red wine
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can low-sodium beef broth (I had homemade chicken broth on hand instead)
1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, hand-crushed (I used 6 frozen garden grown Roma Tomatoes)

Put the flour in a large shallow platter and season it with a fair amount of salt and pepper. Dredge the meat in the seasoned flour and then tap off the excess (extra flour will burn and make the dish off-tasting).

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat and hit it with a 3-count drizzle of oil. Add the butter and swirl it around the pan to melt. Sear the meat, turning carefully with tongs, until all sides are a rich brown caramel color. Drizzle with a little more oil, if needed. (Do this in batches if the shanks are big and look crowded in the pot.) Remove the browned meat to a side plate. There will be a lot of flavor left over in the bottom of the pot. You're going to use that to create your sauce.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Using the same pot, sauté the onion, celery, carrots, lemon zest, garlic, bay leaves, and parsley over medium heat. Cook the vegetables down until they start to get some color and develop a deep, rich aroma. Season with salt and pepper; add a little oil if needed. Nestle the meat back in the pot. Pour in the wine and let it simmer down for 20 minutes, until the wine has reduced by half. Reducing is key for intense flavor. Add the beef broth and tomatoes and stir everything together. Cover the pot and put it in the oven. Braise for 1 and a 1/2 hours. Then remove the cover and continue to cook for another 30 minutes. The sauce should be thick and the meat tender and nearly falling off the bone.
Remove bay leaves.