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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Savouring Local Foods with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC

Last night I had the pleasure of presenting the following dishes at the Grant Park Liquor Commission on behalf of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy. The theme focused on local products so I was happy to present our wonderful local golden caviar, lamb, eggs, produce and fresh rhubarb.

Bonnie Tulloch on behalf of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, presented on the plants used and local sources or options for having great local produce while MLCC Product Ambassador, Carol Herntier, presented pairings for each dish.

Reception Beverage: Italian Iced Tea (1part Rosso Vermouth, 2 parts Gingerale, serve over ice with a slice of lemon)

1. Classic Caviar Station
Paired with: Trius Brut VQA - Ontario $ 26.99

Golden Caviar (from Gimli Fish)
Toast triangles or crostini
Chopped hard boiled egg (farm fresh or Vita Eggs)
Thinly sliced red onion/chives (from the garden)
Sour cream

2. Moroccan Lamb Stew
Paired with: Rigby Dry Raspberry - Manitoba $ 17.50 and Half Pints Sweet Nikki Brown Ale - Manitoba $ 12.32

1 lb lamb shoulder, cut into bite-sized pieces (Manitoba Lamb available at Halal Meats and Specialty Foods and DeLuca's)
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. Fiddleheads in Brown Butter with Pancetta
Paired with: Canadian Caribou Cocktail (1oz Crown Royall, 1/2oz Yukon Jack, splash of Ginger Ale, lemon slice. Build on ice) and Cedar Creek Pinot Noir VQA - B.C. $ 32.86

3 pounds fiddle head ferns, trimmed and washed (Available at DeLuca's and FOOD)
1/4 lb chopped pancetta
6 tablespoons brown butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly nutmeg
pinch Kosher salt

1. In a large pot bring 2 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Fill a medium bowl halfway with ice water. Drop the fiddleheads into the pot and cook for 1 minute. Drain the fiddleheads in a colander, then submerge in the ice water until completely cool. Let the fiddleheads drain well in a colander and wrap them in a clean kitchen towel to dry.
2. Slowly brown butter in a large skillet. Bring up to higher temperature and cook chopped pancetta.
3.Heat for a minute or two until they are warm, then divide the fiddleheads among the plates. Serve at once as a side dish or on Chinese soup spoons as an appetizer.


4. Pavlova with Rhubarb sauce
Paired with: Kermode Saskatoon Berry Wine - B.C.$ 16.75

4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature (Farm fresh or Vita Eggs)
Pinch kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180ºF.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw a 9-inch circle on the paper, using a 9-inch plate as a guide, then turn the paper over so the circle is on the reverse side. (This way you won't get a pencil mark on the meringue.)

Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk
attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 1 minute. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny
peaks, about 2 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula. Pile the
meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it within the circle, making a rough disk. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.

Invert the meringue disk onto a plate and spread the top completely with
sweetened whipped cream.

Rhubarb Sauce

3 cups chopped rhubarb (first fresh from the garden)
zest of 1 orange
1 cup sugar
1-2 tbs corn starch
drizzle vanilla
drizzle Grand Marnier

Cook all ingredients together at one time over medium heat, stirring being careful not to burn the sauce. Cook bubbling for at least one minute to allow the corn starch to fully cook and have a shiny result. Simmer until rhubarb has broken down.



Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rajmah - Spicy Punjabi Kidney Beans

This recipe is in honour/memory of Dr. Sharif Said, who enjoyed this dish with tamarind. He enjoyed many dishes if it had tamarind and so I've added it for your enjoyment as well.
(Photo coming later today)

My neighbour gave me a large bag of locally grown kidney beans. I haven't cooked with them in ages since I hadn't really enjoyed them. Making this dish, I've changed my mind on kidney beans. Yummy! I recommend soaking dry beans overnight and not using the tinned beans. If you are using tinned beans, rinse them thoroughly in cold water.


2 cups red kidney beans, washed thoroughly, soaked and cooked
1 medium yellow or red onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
1 tbs + olive oil
2 medium-sized tomatoes diced (about 1 cup)
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped or grated (2 tablespoon)
3 cloves garlic, chopped or minced (1 tablespoon)
2 – 4 green Thai, Serrano or cayenne chilies, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon whole cumin seed
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp red chili powder (cayenne)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 - 2 tbs tamarind paste
good pinch or two of salt
6-8 cups water (less if you want more of a chili effect)
1 bunch fresh, chopped cilantro (1/2 cup)

Sauté onions over medium heat in olive oil. Add chopped tomatoes, chilies, ginger and garlic. Add dry spices and cook until soft. Add beans and salt and tamarind and cook until the beans break down and become thick and somewhat creamy.

When finished, take an immersion blender and press it about four times to break up some of the beans. If using a blender, take out about a cup and process in the blender, then put this back in the pot. Be careful not to process all of the beans. Most of the beans should remain whole.

Stir in the cilantro.

Serve over a bed of rice with yogurt. Some enjoy a dab of butter on each serving.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

This Morning on CBC's Weekend Morning Show - Tuna Tataki and Pomegranate grilled Chicken

This morning I had the pleasure of presenting these two BBQ options on CBC's Weekend Morning Show with Kerän Sanders. Very simple to prepare with wonderful results.

1. Tuna Tataki

1 tuna steak (wild caught Ahi Tuna available at Gimli Fish)
½ cup ground nori sheet (try also ground green tea, black pepper, sesame seeds, etc.)
sesame oil
sea salt, to taste
white pepper, to taste

Pat tuna steak dry and press into chosen flavouring. Wrap and chill until ready to serve. Prepare salad and plate. Heat a pan to high heat and drizzle in some sesame oil. Place tuna steak on hot pan and sear each side for up to 1 minute. Remove from heat and let rest. Slice across the bias and place over salad greens or serve on its own with a dipping sauce. (Dipping sauce 1:1 good soy sauce and Mirin)

2. Grilled Pomegranate Chicken (serves 4 as an entrée or 8+ as an appetizer)

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup Pomegranate Molasses (Available locally at Halal Meats and Specialty Foods on Maryland, Dino's Grocery Mart on Notre Dame)
1/2 pickled lemon, PEEL only, chopped
2-3 tbs Ras el Hanout
splash rose water
pinch salt
1/4 cup olive oil

In a bowl, combine last 6 ingredients. Split chicken by cutting through breast bone and flatten open. Rub spice/pomegranate mixture over chicken on all sides. Chill for a few hours.

Heat up BBQ to high heat. Place chicken on hot grill and sear on both sides for a few minutes. Reduce heat or place on cooler side of BBQ and cook chicken slower, basting until meat is ready to fall off of the bone. Let rest and serve with flat breads, rice and grilled vegetables.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Simple Summer Salads with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC

The other evening I had the pleasure of presenting Simple Summer Salads for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy at the Madison Square MLCC. Assiniboine Park Conservancy Education Coordinator, Bonnie Tulloch, presented on the plants represented in the dishes while MLCC Product Ambassador, Carol Herntier, created wonderful pairings for each dish.

Reception beverage: Smirnoff Blueberry and Lemonade Cooler ($2.49)
Chef's note: Not sweet at all!

1. Proper Turkish/Greek Salad
Paired with: Chateau Mas Neuf Rose - France ($15.95)

2-3 ripe tomatoes
1 English Cucumber
1-2 red peppers (or green peppers)
½ red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup good feta, rinsed, cubed or crumbled (available at DeLuca's)
Good black olives, to personal taste

3:1 good olive oil to red wine vinegar (For Turkish salad use fresh lemon juice)
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1 clove minced garlic

Lay out vegetables attractively on a platter or toss all together in a large bowl. Add good feta cheese and drizzle vinaigrette over vegetables or toss together. Can be made in advance and chilled.


Please note: This salad does NOT include lettuce. Traditionally, these salads never do. Today I will be making it with Lemon juice, the Turkish style.

2. Toenail of a dog - Köpeğoğlu
Paired with Boutari Naoussa Grande Reserve - Greece ($19.99) and Chimay Strong Ale - Belgium ($4.25)

1 globe eggplant
1 red pepper
1 leek
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs olive oil
1/3 cup tahini
1 cup yoghurt
1 tbs dried oregano
Salt and pepper

Wash the eggplant and prick all over with a fork. Drizzle oil over eggplant, whole pepper and the white of the leek. Roast in a hot BBQ, turning occasionally. Remove eggplant when soft. Remove red pepper when blackened and leek when soft and caramelized. Cube eggplant with skin on. Peel blackened skin off of pepper and chop. Slice leek into thin rounds. Mix all ingredients together and chill until serving. Serve with French bread or a baguette.


3. Easy Quinoa Salad
Paired with township 7 7 Blanc - BC ($19.99)

Serves 6

3 cups cooked Quinoa (cook ahead in a 2:1 water: Quinoa ratio)
Juice of 2 lemons
3 tbs olive oil
1 rounded tsp ground cumin (toasted makes it quite nice as well but could be an optional ingredient, depending on tastes)
1 cup cooked black beans (or your favourite such as pinto, black eyed beans, etc.)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped roasted red pepper
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted (you can use pine nuts but they are very pricey right now)
¼ - ½ cup chopped green or black olives (Deluca’s has some lovely olives, just avoid the watery canned olives)I left these whole as some people don't enjoy olives.
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, aka coriander

While quinoa is cooking, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, salt and sugar into a vinaigrette in a small bowl.

Combine quinoa and all remaining ingredients, except fresh herbs, into a medium-sized bowl.

Drizzle with vinaigrette. Toss to combine.

Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow flavours to combine. Add fresh herbs just prior to serving. May be served at room temperature.


Options: try with Ras el Hanout, grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini, your favourite veggies. Also try cooking the quinoa with a Smen boullion. It gives it a buttery Moroccan flavour. Available at Halal Meats and Specialty Foods on Maryland.

4. Spinach Salad with warm Blue Cheese Dressing
Paired with Strongbow Cider - UK ($3.75) and Boone's Sangria - USA ($6.99)

1 1/2 lbs. spinach leaves, cleaned & trimmed
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. olive oil
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2/3 c. light cream
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
3/4 c. coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup sautéed sliced mushrooms

1. In large salad bowl combine the spinach and onion; chill. Sauté mushrooms and set aside.

2. Sauté the garlic in olive oil over moderate heat until soft.

3. Add vinegar and stir to blend. Bring to a simmer.

4. Whisk in cream, the sauce will split, bring to simmer at a very low heat. Whisk in cheese, continue stirring.

5. Pour sauce over spinach. Toss. Add walnuts and mushrooms. Serve. Makes 4 servings.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Easy Summer Appetizers at D. A. Niels

Today I had the pleasure of presenting two easy appetizers for the customers at D. A. Niels.

1. Tuna Tataki

1 tuna steak (wild caught Ahi Tuna available at Gimli Fish)
½ cup ground nori sheet (try also ground green tea, black pepper, sesame seeds, etc.)
sesame oil
sea salt, to taste
white pepper, to taste

Pat tuna steak dry and press into chosen flavouring. Wrap and chill until ready to serve. Prepare salad and plate. Heat a pan to high heat and drizzle in some sesame oil. Place tuna steak on hot pan and sear each side for up to 1 minute. Remove from heat and let rest. Slice across the bias and place over salad greens or serve on its own with a dipping sauce.

2. Moroccan Kofta

1 lb ground meat (beef, lamb, elk or bison)
¼ cup Pomegranate molasses
2 tbs Ras el Hanout
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup bread crumbs or Panko
1 egg

Mix all ingredients well together and form into small oblong shapes. Broil or grill for a few minutes on each side until done. Enjoy with pita, yoghurt tahini sauce or other dips.

It is often broiled in a large pan with hot peppers, onions, tomatoes and garlic.

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.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cooking with Summer Herbs with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC

Last night I had the pleasure of presenting the following recipes at the Grant Park MLCC on behalf of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy. Bonnie Tulloch, Education Coordinator for the Conservancy, presented on the plants used in the recipes while MLCC Product Ambassador Gary Dawyduk, presented excellent pairings for each course of the evening.

Some of the recipes have been repeated from other entries but are here by popular request for the evening.

Reception beverage:
Chartreuse & Tonic cocktail:
2 oz. Chartreuse Liqueur (#37333, 375ml) $27.05
5 oz. Tonic Water
Combine ingredients in a tall ice-filled glass and stir
Garnish with lime slice

1. Sage Butter pasta (Burro e salvia)
Paired with Givry Rouge 2007 – Louis Latour (#3321) $25.61

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.

2. Pea Shoot Pesto on Arctic Char
Paired with Melange Blanc 2008 – Waterbrook (#11394) $14.95

1/4 lb fresh, young pea shoots
1 bunch chives, chopped (or spring onion)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup toasted pinenuts (or almonds)

Place the pea shoots, chives, garlic, cheese, olive oil, pine nuts 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.


3. Roast tomatoes, thyme and goat's cheese
Paired with Le Soraie Veneto Rosso 2008 – Pasqua (#7467) $17.24 and Gamay Noir/Zweigelt 2009 – Pelee Island (#216028) $11.95

Enough for 4 as a first course or as part of a main course.

For the tomatoes
4 ripe large (but not beefsteak) tomatoes
4 bushy sprigs of thyme
6 cloves of garlic
a little olive oil

For the cheese
the leaves from 3 bushy little sprigs of young thyme
200g soft goat's cheese or goat's curd
a few thyme flowers

Set the oven at 400ºF.. Wipe the tomatoes, remove their stalks and cut them in half. Place them cut-side up, snugly, in a baking dish or roasting tin. Season with salt and black pepper, coarsely ground, then tuck the garlic cloves in among them. Trickle over just enough olive oil to wet their surface then bake for 30 minutes or so until the garlic cloves are soft inside. Remove them and return the tomatoes to the oven.

Pop the soft centres from the garlic into a mixing bowl by squeezing them between your thumb and finger. Add the thyme leaves, a little coarse salt and pound the mixture together with a pestle or the back of spoon. Spread a little on each tomato.

Cut the cheeses in half and put a half on each tomato. Return each half to the oven letting it partially melt before putting the dish on the table. Serve with large chunks of roughly torn bread.

4. Arugula, caramelized onion, walnut and gorgonzola pasta
Paired with Alsace Reserve Pinot Gris 2008 – Willm (#370676) $15.21 and Mavrodaphne of Patras – Kourtaki (#208413) $13.40

2-3 large onions, thinly sliced
1 cup gorgonzola, crumbled
1 tbs olive oil
1 large bunch arugula
½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
splash Vermouth, to deglaze pan
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pasta (penne, farfalle, shells, etc.)

In a large pot, caramelize onions slowly with olive oil. Add a pinch of salt to start the caramelizing. When the onions are soft and brown add the chopped walnuts. Deglaze pan with Vermouth. Add chopped arugula and gorgonzola. Season to taste. Toss with al dente cooked pasta. Serve immediately.


Finished with Drambuie. Yum!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Something Special for Mother's Day - Wild Caught Nova Scotia Lobster Tails Two Ways

(Grilled Nova Scotia Lobster Tails with Blood Orange Butter, served with pasta shells with Saffron Cream Sauce and grilled Asparagus - Photo by Karen)

This morning I had the pleasure of presenting two easy ways to prepare lobster tails on CBC's Weekend Morning Show with Kerän Sanders.

These wild caught Nova Scotia lobster tails are available at Gimli Fish at three locations in Winnipeg, Dufferin Ave., St. Mary's Ave and Pembina Hwy. and come in a variety of sizes. The great people at Gimli Fish will be able to help you choose the size that is right for your needs and give you tips on preparation as well.

Photo coming later today.

Grilled Lobster Tails with Blood Orange Compound Butter

6 small lobster tails *
Drizzle olive oil
1 cup softened butter
1 blood orange (can use other oranges)
1 pinch salt
Zest of blood orange
Quick squeeze of blood orange juice

Blend together butter, squeezed blood orange juice and a pinch of salt. Drop onto a sheet of plastic wrap or waxed paper and shape into a roll. Chill until firm. Cut lobster tails open on the soft side of the shell. Drizzle olive oil over tails. Heat BBQ to a high heat. Grill lobster tails until shell becomes quite red all over. Put a pat of the herbed butter on each tail. Zest the orange over the tails and squeeze some of the juice of the orange over all of the tails. Serve immediately.

For other prepared butters, try ripe mango, butter, lime and jalapeño flakes. Try flavours that you enjoy together or ripe locally grown fruit.

* Lobster tails are available in a variety of sizes in Winnipeg at Gimli Fish Market at 596 Dufferin Ave and 625 Pembina Hwy.


Lobster Tails in a Saffron Cream Sauce

6 small lobster tails
½ litre cream (10 – 35%)
a few shallots, finely chopped
1 good tablespoon butter
drizzle olive oil
1 tbs flour
good pinch saffron
¼ - ½ cup white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a sauté pan, melt butter and olive oil together and sauté shallots until translucent over medium heat. Add flour to make a roux and cook, stirring, for at least a minute. Add cream and saffron and when it starts to thicken, add the white wine and season, to taste. Place lobster tails that have been cut open on the soft side in the pan and cover for at least a minute. Turn tails and cook, simmering gently until the lobster tails have turned completely red. Serve immediately over pasta, with rice, as an appetizer.


Thursday, May 05, 2011

Imam Baldi! Eggplants are coming back!

We've been missing globe eggplants for quite some time. Where have they been? They are coming back. These gorgeous eggplants are now available at DeLuca's Specialty Foods on Portage Ave. Please enjoy this classic Turkish dish, Imam Baldi, or, the Imam fainted dead away. I've prepared it with less olive oil by grilling them on the BBQ instead of frying them, thus, hopefully, keeping the Imam quite alive and well.

4 baby globe eggplants or Japanese (peel off 3 slices of outer skin length-wise around the eggplant)
olive oil (for frying and flavour)
Rich tomato sauce (recipe follows)
cilantro (optional)

Grill the eggplants over a hot grill with three strips of peel cut off of each eggplant and drizzled with olive oil. Turn and keep cooking until the eggplant is soft. Remove from heat and split open the eggplants with a sharp knife and let them rest. Spoon the rich tomato sauce into each eggplant.

Rich Tomato Sauce

1 tin crushed tomatoes (organic fire roasted is nicest)
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup red wine (optional, try orange juice for a fresh Summer flavour)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp brown sugar (to reduce acid of tomatoes)

Preheat oven to 350°F. On the stove top, preheat olive oil in sauté pan. Carefully brown egplants on all sides. This takes some time. One option is to prepare the eggplant on a BBQ by drizzling olive oil over the eggplants prior to grilling. Remove eggplants from pan and place in a baking dish. Let eggplants rest. Split open the eggplants and spoon in the rich tomato sauce into each eggplant. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and drizzle with good olive oil. Bake for up to 30 minutes. Imam Baldi can be enjoyed hot, cold or room temperature. Serve with bread.