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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cooking lessons at the Centro Caboto Italian Cultural Centre

On Monday I had the pleasure of preparing these items for a cooking class held at the Centro Caboto Centre Italian Cultural Centre. They offer a wide variety of cooking classes. I'll be offering classes in preparing seafood and some Korean specialties as well in the upcoming program.

I prepared these items in front of the class and then we dined together. It was a lovely experience.

1. Beet Salad I and II

1 lb Beets
1 tb Sugar
1 Lemon; juice of
1 tb Olive oil
1 lg Pinch of cinnamon
1 tb Chopped parsley
Salt; to taste

Wash beets well, being careful not to break their skins. Cut off the
tops, leaving a stalk of about 1 1/2". Boil in a 3 quart saucepan
until tender, covered. Allow the water to cool, then slip off the
skins, trim off the tops, and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over the beets. Let marinate
for 1 hour before serving.

Beet Salad II: Prepare as described above, but add 1 tsp. orange
flower water, 1/8 tsp. cumin, a pinch of paprika, and a little water
to the sauce.

2. 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.

3. Vegetable Tagine

2 red peppers
3-4 carrots
1 head garlic cloves
1-2 Japanese eggplants (or 1 large globe eggplant)
1-2 yams
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup olives
1/2 pickled lemon RIND ONLY*
2-3 tbs olive oil
2-3 tbs Ras el Hanout*
splash rose water*
1 tbs turmeric
salt and pepper and some water

Place all ingredients together in a casserole dish (traditional cooking vessel is a tajine). Cover and bake at 350F for about 45 minutes. If cooking on the stovetop, cook covered at medium heat for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender. Serve with rice or couscous or bulgur.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This morning on CBC's Weekend Morning Show - Elk Burgers with Yoghurt Tahini Sauce

This morning I had the pleasure of presenting a very simple yet moist and tasty burger on CBC's Weekend Morning Show with host Kerän Sanders. The ground elk is from Stonewood Elk in Stonewall, Manitoba. My Turkish Baharat spice blend is used in the burger which is available at DeLuca's on Portage Ave as is the hot Italian Sausage used in the recipe. Excellent pita bread can be purchased at Halal Meats and Specialty Foods on Maryland.

I also prepared a spicy tomato chutney to serve with the burger.

Elk Burgers with Turkish Baharat
1 lb ground elk
1 hot Italian sausage (casing removed) - Available at DeLuca's on Portage Ave.
2 tbs Turkish Baharat
1/2 cup panko (or fine bread crumbs)
1 egg
pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and form into 6 patties. Grill and serve with your favourite toppings or the following on a pita.

Yoghurt tahini sauce

1/2 cup good plain yoghurt
1 clove garlic, minced
3 heaping tbs tahini
2 tsp lemon or lime juice
pinch salt

Mix all ingredients together. The tahini will cause the sauce to thicken quickly. Use on grilled Pide or Naan or as a crudité dip.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Les Marmitons - a Kerala dinner

Semiya Paysam, a Kerala dessert

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of presenting recipes from Kerala to a fine group of gentlemen from Les Marmitons. In addition to these recipes, we added parboiled red rice and plantain chips, both of which are very simple to prepare.

1. Kerala Chicken Curry

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 rounded tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
2-3 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 cup onion, thin, long slices
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger, thin slices
a few curry leaves *
1 tbs vinegar
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup first thick coconut milk from 1 cup dry unsweetened coconut**
2 cups thin second coconut milk **
3 sweet potatoes, small dice

1. Mix coriander, cayenne, turmeric and pepper together and set aside.
2. Fry mustard seeds in hot oil and saute onion, garlic, ginger and curry leaves in a larger cooking pot.
3. Move onions to the side and fry the spice mixture in the oil and stir for a few minutes.
4. Add meat, vinegar, salt and stir for a few minutes.
5. Mix thin second coconut milk and cook. Close the pan with a deep lid with a splash of water. When the meat is done, add the sweet potatoes.
6. After the sweet potatoes are cooked, stir in the thick first coconut milk. When the curry thickens, remove from heat.
7. Enjoy with roti, rice, naan, etc.

* Curry leaves are available at Dino's Grocery Mart on Notre Dame.

** To make your own first and second coconut milk, measure out one cup dry unsweetened coconut into a blender and add one cup very hot water. Blend well and strain. This is your first coconut milk. Take the drained blended coconut and return to the blender. Add another cup or two of very hot water and blend very well again. Drain. This is your second coconut milk.

2. Fish Molley - a Kerala recipe

Serves 4

4 Sable fish steaks (available at Gimli Fish - or ask about other fish to try with this recipe such as white fish, pickerel, kingfish, etc.)

2 tablespoons sunflower oil
3 small pieces of cassia or 1 small cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods
5 cloves
2 tomatoes, quartered *
1 red onion, cut in half and sliced thickly
1 green chili, sliced halfway down
4 shallots, sliced through the root (used in the end
for seasoning)
3-4 fresh curry leaves
1/2 lime (used in the end of cooking)
~1 1/2 cups coconut milk, method follows, use whole recipe amount
~1/2 cup coconut cream, method follows, use whole recipe amount
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon crushed ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric powder

Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. Add the cassia, cardamom, and cloves for seasoning. When the cardamom pods swell up and absorb the flavour, add the quartered tomato and fry for a few minutes.* Remove the tomatoes, add the onions and green chili to the same oil and stir. Add the crushed garlic and fry for 5 minutes, and then add the ginger. (Never add ginger and garlic together as the garlic needs to cook for longer.) Lower to medium-low heat and sprinkle generous 1 teaspoon of turmeric over the onions, then stir and raise to medium-high heat. After the garlic is fried add the white flour 1/2 teaspoon and crushed ginger and a few curry leaves, and fry a bit then,

Add the diluted coconut milk to the pan where the onions and garlic are fried and allow to bubble, keep on stirring till the milk bubbles or else the coconut milk curdles. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time and add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar. If using a whole fish make slashes on the sides, If your pan is big to fill the fish use the same pan, Once you add the fish you can’t stir with a spoon. The fish should be just covered with coconut milk –cook gently for about 5 minutes, just swaying the dish from side to side. (If the fish sauce needs more sour taste add lime juice off the heat or else it will become bitter.)

Add the coconut cream, swirl and bring back to the boil. Taste and add more salt if necessary. The coconut cream may dull the salt.

To finish, in a different pan, put a few teaspoons of oil, add sliced shallots. Brown a few shallots and add some curry leaves. Pour over the top of the fish sauce. Add the quartered fried tomatoes.

*I used frozen tomatoes for this recipe and added them at the end without first frying them.

Eat hot or at room temperature with rice or any bread.

To make coconut cream and milk:

Coconut Cream or First milk

1 cup unsweetened coconut (excellent dried coconut from Dino's on Notre Dame)
1 cup very hot water

In a blender, blend at high speed for a few minutes and then strain, reserving coconut. This is your first coconut milk or cream.

2nd milk

Return blended coconut to blender and ad 1 1/2 - 2 cups very hot water. Blend at high speed for a few minutes. Strain. This is your second coconut milk that is used for cooking.


3. Cabbage Thoren

2 cups finely shredded cabbage (or carrots, beans, cauliflower, beets)
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.


4. Tender Beans Kerala Style

3 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half to up to 2" long
2 tbs. vegetable or olive oil
1 tsp. black mustard seeds
1 medium onion, sliced thin and long
1 red chili crushed or 1/2 tsp. chili powder
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 pepper corns crushed or 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 - 1 tsp turmeric powder

Fry the mustard seeds in hot oil. When they turn lighter colour and begin to pop, add onion slices and sauté over medium high heat. Add turmeric, chili and pepper corns then garlic. Sauté. Add the beans and sauté until al dente. Season with a pinch of salt. Serve hot.


5. Mushroom Thoran

2 cups sliced Crimini Mushrooms (can use other varieties)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-3 green chilies, chopped
1/4 cup grated coconut (if using dried, use unsweetened)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
sprig curry leaves
1-2 tbs oil
salt, to taste

Heat oil in pan and add mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add curry leaves. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add mushrooms, chilies and salt. Cook over medium high heat until the water has evaporated from the mushrooms, stirring frequently. Stir in coconut, cumin and coriander and cook until soft.

I added a bit of cream to this even though it is a dry curry. Cover and cook on low until ready to serve.

6. Semiya Paysam
1. Roasted Vermicelli (Semiya) – 1 cup (ask at the store for the dessert variety)
2. Milk – 5 cups (1% fat milk)
3. Sugar – 8 – 10 tbsps
4. Ghee – 1 tbsp
5. Crushed cardamom (elakka) – 4 pods
6. Cashew Halves – 20
7. Raisins – 20
8. Sweet Condensed Milk – 1/2 cup

Kerala Dessert - Semiya Paysam
Preparation Method
1. Heat 1 tbsp Ghee in a pan. Fry raisins until they are plump and cashews till they become light golden brown. Keep aside.
2. Take milk in a big saucepan and bring it to boil.
3. Reduce flame and add sugar, stirring continuously. Add the powdered cardamom for flavor.
4. Next, slowly add the roasted vermicelli into the milk, stirring continuously. Allow it come to boil on medium heat.
5. Simmer for 10-12 minutes till the semiya is cooked and the payasam begins to thicken.
6. Add condensed milk and combine everything. Add more sugar if required.
7. Remove from flame and garnish with fried raisins and cashews.
8. You can serve it either warm or cold. I love refrigerated Semiya Payasam
• I used store bought Roasted Vermicelli for making Paysam. It is easily available in Indian stores. If you are using ordinary vermicelli, heat 2 tbsp ghee in a pan and roast the vermicelli till it becomes light brown in color.
• I used 1% Fat Milk for making Paysam. If you are using Whole Milk, you can take 4 cups milk and 1 cup water.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

To answer the question, yes, he does eat like this every day.

No, he doesn't eat like this every day. He is a test kitchen for me sometimes and this was his whim. Not daily. Featured are wild caught fresh scallops wrapped in proscuitto with a port reduction glaze and a side of sage butter pasta shells with added peas.

The wild caught Nova Scotia scallops are found at Gimli Fish. Proscuitto is found at many fine delis, including DeLuca's on Portage Ave. An excellent wine pairing was provided through the MLCC.

Port Reduction
1-2 cups tawny Port
1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbs butter

In a small saucepan, heat the port on medium-low heat until at least reduced by half. Better by two thirds. Add the rosemary and season. At the end, increase the heat to medium-high heat and add butter. Pour reduction over seared scallops or item of choice.


Seared Wild Caught Scallops wrapped in Proscuitto

Wipe each scallop off in a paper towel to absorb extra moisture.

Wrap each scallop with a slice of proscuitto folded over in half. Secure with toothpicks.

Heat pan to high heat and melt 1 tsp butter and a drizzle of olive oil (prevents the butter from burning)

Place scallops in hot pan for 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from heat and pour reduction over the scallops. Serve immediately.


Sage Butter Pasta with peas

Handful sage leaves, stacked and cut in a chiffonade style (or finely chopped)
1-2 tbs butter
salt and pepper, to taste
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1 - 1/2 cup peas
1/4 cup grated parmesan
cooked pasta

In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the sage and seasonings. Add the peas and when cooked through, add the freshly cooked hot pasta. Toss together and add the parmesan. Serve immediately.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

This morning on CBC's Weekend Morning Show - Pea Shoot Pesto on Arctic Char and Gai Lan

This morning I had the pleasure of presenting a beautiful local Arctic Char topped with a very simple Pea Shoot Pesto on CBC's Weekend Morning Show with guest host Agatha Moir.

The Pea Shoot Pesto is so easy to make and gives such a fresh and Spring-like taste to everything. Looking out at the effects of a blizzard, I began yearning, in earnest, for Spring to arrive. This will give you the taste for Spring. The pea shoots are available at DeLuca's on Portage Ave. and the beautiful Arctic Char is available exclusively at Gimli Fish.

The Gai Lan is simply stir fried in sesame oil, a bit of grated ginger, a quick dash of soy sauce, lemon zest and some white pepper.

Pea Shoot Pesto
1/4 lb fresh, young pea shoots
1 bunch chives, chopped (or green onion)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup toasted Almonds

Place the pea shoots, chives, garlic, cheese, olive oil, almonds salt and pepper in a food processor or blender, pulse until a thick paste forms.

Spoon over Arctic Char fillet and bake at 350ºF for 10 - 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet.


Thursday, March 03, 2011

Divinely decadent eggs, from the palace of the Ottoman empire

Çılbır (pronounced, chill burr)

These luscious eggs are so easy to make with a wonderful and velvety result. Perfect comfort food for a weekend morning brunch/breakfast.

The recipe below is for 1, but you can easily make it for more people by adding more eggs, yogurt, and butter.

2 eggs
2 tbsp vinegar
5 cups of water (or more)
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tsp paprika (I used hot smoked paprika)
1/2 tbsp butter
mint flakes
1 clove of garlic, minced (optional)

Bring to boil water, vinegar, and salt in a medium size pot. When it starts boiling, turn it down to medium to low heat.

Stir the water and then break eggs one at a time in a small bowl, and glide them, one by one, in to the very hot but not boiling water. (If the water is boiling vigorously when you pour the eggs, you cannot have a homogeneous cooking or keep the egg together) Do not cook more than 2 eggs at a time. If an egg starts going messy in water, try to pull it together with a spoon. (stirring the water will help make the eggs into a perfect round shape).

Cook the eggs for 3-4 minutes for medium soft yolk. For a hard yolk, you need to cook them at least for 5 minutes.

Take the eggs out of the water with slotted spoon on a plate.

Pour yogurt on them. (If you want to have your çılbır "a la turque", mix yogurt with 1 clove of minced garlic, a perfect pairing)

Heat butter. When it sizzles add paprika. Stir for half a minute or less (just don't let it burn) and pour it on top of eggs and yogurt.

Sprinkle mint flakes on top. Serve with toast.

It is extremely easy to make çılbır; there are only a couple of points to be careful about: don't put the eggs in boiling water; bring it to a boil and then let it calm down and do not break the eggs directly into the pot; instead break them in little bowl and let them glide.