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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Foody Series - Italian Countryside with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC

Last night I had the pleasure of presenting the following recipes for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy with the MLCC. Bonnie Tulloch, Education Coordinator for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, lead the discussion on plants of the region. Pairings coming up on this site later today.

1. Crostini Toscani

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. 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.

3. Tuscan Squash Salad

1 lb squash (butternut, hubbard, or any small firm variety except spaghetti), peeled, seeded and cut in 5-inch slices
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbs honey, warm and divided into two parts
½ cup chopped walnuts
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs walnut oil
½ tsp kosher or sea salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
~ 6 cups mixed baby greens, lightly packed
½ cup crumbled feta

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Toss the squash and olive oil in a large bowl. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and lightly brush with half of the honey. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn and brush with the remaining honey. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the squash is cooked through. Some varieties take longer to cook.

While the squash is baking, toast the walnuts lightly. Whisk together the lemon juice, walnut oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Toss the greens with the vinaigrette in a large bowl and place on serving plates. Top with 3-5 slices of squash. Sprinkle with the walnuts and feta, season and serve while the squash is still warm.

4. Zabaione (Zabaglione)

6 eggs.
200g sugar.
100ml dry Vin Santo (or sherry).
Finger biscuits.

Beat the egg whites in a bowl until they form stiff peak. In another, larger bowl beat the yolks and sugar together until frothy, creamy and pale yellow. Add the egg whites to the yolks and blend thoroughly until the mixture is smooth and even; add the Vin Santo. Serve in dessert goblets with the biscuits.

This dish is rather rich and filling and is therefore a good snack for children who have lost their appetite or for those whose work is physically demanding. Luckily children also love it, though I would suggest leaving out the Vin Santo or sherry Zabaione (Zabaglione)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Later that day..... at d.a. Niels Cooking with Tajines

Later in the day, I presented the following recipes at D.A. Niels Gourmet Kitchenware. Both were prepared in Tajines, a very versatile cooking vessel.

Chicken Tajine with prunes and almonds

1 chicken – (3 1/2 lbs)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup prunes
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup whole blanched almonds
vegetable oil for frying

Rub all the chicken pieces with salt, pepper and cumin. Let stand for one hour.

Soak prunes if very dry.

Place onions in a wide shallow casserole with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 cup water, cover and steam for 15 minutes.

Brown the almonds in 4-5 tbs oil in a large skillet and drain on paper towels. Brown the chicken evenly on all sides in the oil and transfer to the steamed onions. Cover with parchment paper and cook in tajine on the lowest heat for about 1 1/4 hours.

Discard the parchment paper. Add the prunes and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from the heat. Serve with almonds sprinkled on top.


Turkish Pumpkin Dessert (Kabak Tatlısı)
(photo later today)

Pumpkin dessert is a very easy-to-make popular and traditional recipe.

pumpkin or butternut squash
4-5 cloves
crushed walnuts

The ratio of pumpkin to sugar is 1 to 1/2. I used 3 cups of squash and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Peel the pumpkin, cut it into big chunks, and put in a pot. Put sugar on and let it sit over night. It will release water, so you don't need to add water when you're cooking it. The next day, add 4-5 cloves in to the pot and cook on medium until the pumpkin is soft, approximately 30 minutes. Let it cool and garnish with walnuts or grated coconut.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

This Saturday on the Weekend Morning Show - Pickerel with Raki, a Turkish recipe

This morning on CBC's Weekend Morning Show with guest host Ismaila Alfa, I had the pleasure of presenting this very easy to prepare pickerel dish in the Turkish fashion. Fresh Pickerel is now in season and available at Gimli Fish. Enjoy this healthy method of preparing the sweet fish.

Pickerel with Raki

4 filets pickerel
2 tomatoes
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup (less) olive oil
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup fish stock
salt and white pepper, to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 bunch dill
2 tsp raki (Ouzo)

Heat skillet and sauté the garlic and add the onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add bay leaves. Add the vegetables, pour over the stock and simmer for 2 minutes

Season the fish with salt and pepper and place on top of the vegetables. Simmer for about 4 minutes. Chop the dill. Add lemon juice, chopped dill and raki and simmer for about 2 minutes. Arrange the fish and vegetables on a serving dish and serve immediately.


Saturday, January 07, 2012

This Saturday on the Weekend Morning Show - Moroccan Braised Beef Short Ribs

This morning on CBC's Weekend Morning Show with guest host Agatha Moir, I had the pleasure of presenting this hearty, comfort food dish. It is very simple to prepare, the trick is to let it cook long and slowly enough so as to have the beef fall off of the bones.

Locally raised beef, Ras el Hanout and Pomegranate Molasses are all available at Halal Meats and Specialty Foods at 206 Maryland St. in Winnipeg.

Moroccan Braised Beef Short Ribs
(serves 4)

4 Beef Short Ribs
2 cups caramelized red onions*
2 tbs Ras el Hanout**
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup chopped carrots

Preheat oven to 300ºF. Place last 6 ingredients in a casserole dish, mix and nestle ribs into the ingredients. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and bake, basting occasionally, for 4-6 hours, until the meat comes off of the bone. Remove from the oven and serve either whole rib to each or debone and shred meat, with other ingredients and serve with egg noodles or in a hot sandwich.

Enjoy this rich and affordable winter comfort fare.

*Caramelized onions
Thinly slice 5-7 red onions over medium-low heat in a sauce pan until reduced with a pinch of salt and pepper and a drizzle of good olive oil. Add up to one cup red wine or good balsamic toward the end of cooking. You can also use a tbs of brown sugar to start the caramelization process. Use in many dishes such as in stews (above), as a condiment, on pizzas, etc.

**Ras el Hanout is available at Halal Meats and Specialty Foods on Maryland and at Dino's Grocery Mart on Notre Dame.