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Saturday, January 29, 2011

This morning on CBC's Weekend Morning Show

This morning I had the pleasure of presenting ideas on lowering the bad fats in our diets with the Living Right Now national CBC program on the Weekend Morning Show with guest host Laurie Hoogstraten.

The Moroccan eggplant dish is very easy to prepare and can be made one or two days in advance. I used smoked hot paprika to carry over that smokey flavour that comes from roasting the eggplant over coals.

1. Eggplant Salad, Rabat Style

1 eggplant
1 clove garlic, peeled and slivered
2 tbs chopped parsley
2 sprigs cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbs olive oil (or less)
1-2 tbs lemon juice
pinch salt

Stud the eggplant with garlic slivers, using a pairing knife to cut slits into the eggplant. Bake at 400ºF until very soft. Remove from oven to cool when darkened and "collapsed".

When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the flesh of the eggplant into a sieve. Discard liquid and skin of eggplant.

Mash or push the eggplant and garlic through a food mill (avoid a blender as it won't give you the desired effect).

Add the chopped herbs and spices and mix well. Fry in the olive oil over moderate heat, turning often until all of the liquid has evaporated and the eggplant has been reduced to a thick black jam, about 15 - 20 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and salt. Serve warm or slightly cooled.

Try with grape tomatoes and good toasted pita bread.


2. International Creamers

Read the ingredients of the international creamers. High Fructose Corn Syrup, fats of different kinds. Treat yourself without harming yourself. Take one can of fat-free condensed milk. Add vanilla and Stevia or Splenda and store in the refrigerator for the "French Vanilla" coffee flavour. Try almond extract, or other sugar-free extracts for different flavours.

Try out a very nicely designed creamer container by Trudeau available at D. A. Niels Gourmet Kitchenware at 485 Berry St.

To make excellent hot chocolate that gives you the creamy texture without the fat, make cocoa with good cocoa powder, Splenda or Stevia, a can of fat-free milk. A lovely treat on a cold Winter's day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Italian Countryside with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC

On Wednesday evening, I had the pleasure of presenting a few recipes from around the Italian countryside with Bonnie Tulloch, Education Coordinator for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and Gary Dawyduk,Product Ambassador of the MLCC. I added a few surprises in the mix as well that can be found on this blog such as Sage Butter Pasta and a variation of biscotti with cranberries, walnuts and blood oranges and zest.(Click on biscotti labels for some variations in this blog)

Bonnie presented on the flora of the Italian countryside that was represented in the recipes and Gary presented excellent beverage pairings for each course, including a welcoming cocktail and after dinner digestivo.

Negroni cocktail:

1 oz. London Dry Gin (Quintessential, #540419, $25.86)
1 oz. Sweet Vermouth (Cinzano, #422, $11.49)
1 oz. Italian Bitters (Cynar, #5299, $23.85)
Stir with ice and strain into cocktail glass, ¾ filled with ice
Garnish with orange slice

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.

Paired with Prosecco – Zonin (#6017) $13.28
* 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. Farfalle with Onion Confit, Gorganzola and Walnuts

Paired with Gewurztraminer 2009 – Fetzer (#350843) $14.99 and 1488 Whisky Ale – Tullilbardine (#10420, 500 ml) $7.33

(serves 2-4)
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 medium-sized onions, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 lb farfalle
1/3 cup fresh basil
3 tbs, walnut pieces, toasted
1 ounce Gorgonzola

Heat olive oil in a wide skillet. Add the onions and pinch of salt. Sauté over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the onions begin to soften and release their juices. Add the garlic and continue to cook over medium heat, gently stirring as they caramelize. After 30 minutes, the onions should be a rich golden colour and sweet. Add wine to deglaze the pan ad simmer over low heat.

Boil pasta as per instructions. Chop or break the toasted walnuts. Before draining pasta, add a 1/4 cup of cooking water to the confit. Add the drained pasta to the confit with walnuts and basil. Season and crumble in cheese. Serve immediately.

3.Elk Osso Bucco:

Paired with Dolcetto d’Alba 2007 – Damilano (#9722) $26.99 and Rioja Reserva 2005 – Montecillo (#802108) $20.97

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.

4. Lemon Gelato with Amaretto cookie

Paired with Maximo Marche Bianco 2006 – Ronchi (#10955, 375 ml) $24.45

Lemon Gelato:


3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
1 pint (500 ml) water
The zest of a half a lemon
The juice of three lemons
An ice cream machine

Bring the sugar, water and lemon zest to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Let the mixture cool, stir in the lemon juice, and make the sherbet, following the instructions given by the manufacturer of your ice cream machine.

Yield: 6 servings lemon gelato.

Variations: you can also make lime sherbet, substituting limes for lemons, or orange sherbet, using the juice of three oranges and one lemon. If you choose to make the latter, reduce the sugar somewhat since oranges are naturally sweeter than lemons or limes.

Amaretti cookies


2 egg whites
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1 mL) almond extract
2-1/2 cups (625 mL) ground almonds
2 tbsp (25 mL) granulated sugar

In large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form; beat in sugar, 2 tbsp (25 mL) at a time, until stiff glossy peaks form. Beat in almond extract; fold in ground almonds.

Drop by generous 1 tbsp (15 mL) or pipe using piping bag, 2 inches (5 cm) apart, onto parchment paper–lined baking sheets.

Topping: Sprinkle sugar over cookies. Bake in top and bottom thirds of 300°F (150°C) oven, rotating and switching pans halfway through, for about 20 minutes or until firm to the touch and light golden. Transfer to rack; let cool completely. (Make-ahead: Store layered between waxed paper in airtight container for up to 3 days.)

Digestivo: Frangelico Liqueur (#8546) $23.97

Monday, January 17, 2011

Saturday's cooking demonstrations - CBC Weekend Morning Show and D.A. Niels

On Saturday I had the pleasure of presenting recipes and cooking methods for CBC's Weekend Morning Show with Kerän Sanders and later at D.A. Niels. The first recipe highlighted using different cooking methods to lower salt and increase flavour in our foods with a Parchment paper Pickerel fillet loaded with fresh arugula. The second, at D. A. Niels, featured recipes that can be made in the quite versatile tajine with Moroccan Elk Stew and Korean Ginseng Chicken (Samgetang).

Parchment Paper Fish
Per Fillet:
1 fillet Pickerel – now on sale at Gimli Fish
1/2 carrot, peeled and then peeled into strips
1/2 leek whites, julienned
pinch sea salt
pepper to taste
3-5 basil leaves, chiffonade (use your favourite herb) On Saturday, I used Arugula
parchment paper
spray olive oil*

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Place fish on top of very lightly oiled parchment paper. Place basil, carrot, leek and pinch of salt and pepper on top of fish. Lightly spray with olive oil. Seal paper and place in oven or on top of grill for up to 20 minutes in the oven, depending on thickness of fillet. If using a BBQ, place fish on upper level and not directly over the heat. The fish is so delicate. Paper will puff up. Remove and serve immediately.

*I like to use a truffle oil olive oil blend.


Korean Ginseng Chicken

1 medium chicken (preferably organic)
1-2 large pieces white ginseng (Fresh available sometimes at Superstore and dried at some Asian markets. I found mine at Dong Thai on Notre Dame)
1 cup sticky or sushi rice
6 dried Chinese red dates*
6 chestnuts (peeled and medium chopped)
1 head garlic
1 inch grated fresh ginger
2 green onions (large chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste (white pepper if available)
Dash of Sesame oil
Water (to cover chicken)

Put rice, dates, some ginseng and some garlic cloves inside the chicken in a large tajine or casserole dish. Add the remaining ingredients to dish. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for up to 45 minutes until chicken falls off the bone. Enjoy with rice and as a soup. Wonderful for cold winter days. Garnish with sesame seeds or green onions.

Moroccan Elk (Beef/Lamb) Stew

1 lb elk roast, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 tbs ras el hanout
1-2 tbs olive oil
1-2 tbs butter
good pinch saffron
2 large tomatoes, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 green peppers, seeded and diced
1/2 - 1 cup prunes
2-3 tbs honey
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup red wine
salt, to taste

Slowly sauté onions on medium-low heat with olive oil until they begin to caramelize. Stir in Ras el Hanout spice blend. Turn up heat to medium-high and add butter and saffron. Brown meat well on all sides and add tomatoes and other vegetables. Add broth, prunes and honey. Add red wine and salt and let simmer for 1-2 hours, depending on using the tajine and toughness of the meat. Meat should melt in your mouth when done.


Saturday, January 08, 2011

Under the Tuscan Sun with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC

Under the Tuscan Sun

It was my pleasure last week to present the following Tuscan recipes with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC. Bonnie Tulloch, Education Coordinator for the Conservancy, presented fascinating information on the produce and plant sources found in each recipe and Carol Herntier, Product Ambassador for the MLCC, presented wonderful and intriguing pairings for each dish.

Pairings will be posted in a few days.

1. Crostini Toscani
(serves 4)

2 tbs olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, roughly chopped
1 lb chicken livers, membranes removed
1 tsp small capers, drained but not rinsed
4 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 loaf ciabatta, cut into 8 - 10 slices, lightly toasted
1 tbs minced flat-leaf parsley

Warm the olive oil in a sauté pan wide enough to hold the livers in a single layer over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until lightly coloured, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken livers and brown them on all sides, cooking until medium-rare, about 5 minutes. Add the capers and anchovies. Cook, stirring to prevent scorching, for 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until reduced but not dry, 2 - 3 minutes.

Pour the contents of the skillet into a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl. Reserve the juice to add some of it to the livers if they are to dry.

Turn the contents out onto a cutting board and chop roughly until they are well incorporated and the mixture is spreadable. If it appears too dry, spoon some reserved cooking liquid over it and chop again. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl.

Spread some chopped liver on each slice of toast. Sprinkle some chopped parsley over each one. Serve at room temperature.

2. Fave con Pecorino
(serves 4)

2 lbs fava beans, peeled
4 ounces Pecorino Toscano, sliced into 1/2 inch/1 cm long matchstick-thick segments
1/4 cup olive oil
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 leaves radicchio, sliced very thinly

Place the fava beans and pecorino in a small mixing bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and season with salt and pepper. Toss very gently, just to combine the flavours and not to break the beans or crush the cheese.
Mound a quarter of the beans and cheese in the centre of each salad plate. Top each serving with a few slivers of radicchio.

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 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. Sgroppino
(serves 4)

1 1/3 cups lemon sorbet
1 cup Prosecco

Place 4 champagne flutes in the refrigerator to chill.

Put the sorbet and Prosecco in a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth. Pour into flutes and serve immediately.