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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

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