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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Warming Soups for Winter

Tonight I will have the pleasure of presenting these four warming soups for winter for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC.  Stay tuned for some photos and beverage pairings and tasting these this winter at Arkadash Bistro and Lounge.

Red Pepper soup with bulgur, chickpeas, mint and chile

7 oz dried chickpeas
¼ cup olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 long red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 long red chile, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp dried mint
1 tablespoon pekmez
14 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 ½ quarts vegetable stock or water
3 oz course bulgur
½ cup shredded mint leaves
¼ tsp hot paprika
juice of ½ lemon

Soak the chickpeas overnight in plenty of cold water

Heat the oil in a large, saucepan.  Sauté the onion, pepper chile and mint over a low heat for 5-8 minutes until softened.  Add the pekmez and sauté for another minute.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add to the pan with tomatoes and stock.  Bring to boil and then lower heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes.  Add the bulgur with the remaining liquid and simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

When ready to serve, stir in the shredded mint, paprika and lemon juice.  Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve hot.

Pekmez is a grape molasses found in specialty food stores.

Easy Crab Bisque

1 onion, finely sliced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup cream
good pinch saffron
2 cups white wine
½ cup basil
salt and pepper, to taste
dried chilies, to taste
1 cup chopped crab meat (available at Gimli Fish)

Sauté onions and garlic until soft in a large pot.  Add tomatoes and all ingredients except for the crab meat.  Cook until soft and then remove from heat and purée using an immersion blender.  Return pot to heat and add chopped crab meat.  Bring to boil and simmer until serving.


Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup

1 yellow onion, chopped
pinch coarse salt
1 1/2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs butternut, kabocha, or calabaza squash halved, peeled and seeded and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks (about 6 cups)
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp La Kama Spice Mixture (1 tsp each of ground ginger, turmeric and white pepper, good pinch of grated nutmeg, 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon and optional cubeb pepper)
1/2 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche
1/2 lb crumbled chevre
1 tsp or more to taste Harissa paste (available in select stores, including Herat Foods on Pembina)
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook onion in heavy bottomed pot or casserole dish (tajine) on medium low heat with the olive oil until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes
2. Add the squash, cover with parchment paper and/lid and cook for 20 minutes.
3. Add tomato paste, spices and 4 cups of hot water and bring to a boil. Then simmer until the squash is tender, about 20+ minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Blend in batches or with an immersion blender until smooth. Add the cream and 3/4 of the cheese and the harissa at the end. Purée until velvety.
5. Bring up to heat and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve into warmed bowls and top each portion with a light sprinkling of the remaining cheese.



2 cups red lentils
1 medium onion, diced
1 inch ginger, grated
3-4 cloves garlic, grated
2 tbs curry spice blend
2-3 tbs olive or vegetable oil
2-3 tomatoes, diced
1 cup spinach leaves
~ 4-6 cups water
~ 1 cup yoghurt
salt, to taste
optional, 1 tbs brown sugar to round out taste and cut acid

In a larger pot, bring lentils and water to a boil. In a separate pan, heat oil and sauté onion until translucent. Add spice blend and cook until softened. Add ginger and garlic and be careful not to burn. When the water in the lentil pot is boiling, add hot onions and spices to the pot and stir. Simmer and add vegetables. Bring to a gentle boil. Stir in yoghurt and test for salt.

For a full protein, serve with rice.


Sunday, September 09, 2012

Local Fare for Assiniboine Park Conservancy

This week I had the pleasure of presenting local ingredients in the following recipes for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy at the Madison Square MLCC.  APC Education Coordinator Bonnie Tulloch led the discussion on local ingredients and I presented these recipes with beverage pairings on behalf of the MLCC.
Pea shoots can be grown year round from seed in your window or look for them in your local market and grocery stores.  The pesto was served over local Arctic Char.  Notre Dame Dairies for the local butter in the pasta, which is local Nature's Pasta.  Squash is coming into season now.  Look for a wide variety in the markets.  The eggs are also local from Nature's Pasta and the Saskatoon berries are from Neechi Foods.

Next week, Soup!

1. Pea Shoot Pesto
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.

2. Sage Butter pasta (Burro e salvia)

1/3 cup butter.
Bunch of fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup 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. Sautéed Squash with Pear

1 small squash or pumpkin (size of a small cabbage)- NOT Spaghetti Squash
1 ripe pear
1 tbs. butter
drizzle olive oil
freshly grated nutmeg
1 oz Frangelico
salt and pepper

Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Save seeds on paper towel to dry for planting in Spring. I used a small version of the bumpy salmon coloured squash in the top photo.

Cut seeded squash into four pieces to make peeling easier. Peel and slice into wedges. Heat a sauté pan to medium heat. Melt butter with a drizzle of olive oil. Place squash slices in pan and slowly cook for ~20 minutes or until soft and beginning to brown on both sides. Add chopped pear, salt and pepper. Turn heat to medium high after pear has softened and add the Frangelico. Allow the liquid to cook down a bit.

Can be prepared in advance and warmed up. A nice side dish for a wide range of holiday feasting.


4. Pavlova with Saskatoon sauce

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.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

 I had the pleasure of hosting CBC's Weekend Morning Show host Ismaila Alfa at Arkadash Bistro and Lounge to show him a few items that we offer.  The Turkish pizza, Lahmaçun, is offered two ways as follows.  Try the blue cheese with chopped mint or dill for a great pizza!


2 long red chilies (I used dried chipotle)
1 lb ground lamb
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1-2 cups ripe tomato, finely chopped
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped (I used cilantro)
1/2 tsp smoky paprika
good pinch ground cinnamon
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 quantity Turkish Pizza Dough (follows)
olive oil

Roast the chilies until charred and cover until cool enough to handle and peel away the blackened skin. Chop ground lamb, chilies, onion, tomato and parley and paprika with olive oil on a large cutting board all together until a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Punch down the dough and roll out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 10 portions and roll each into round, 6 inch portions. Spread the filling on top of each portion and bake for 6-8 minutes. Serve hot.

HINT: I cooked the topping first in order of olive oil, onions, lamb, tomatoes, chilies and parsley and seasoning. Then I topped the portions of rolled out dough.

Turkish Pizza Dough
1 tbs dried yeast
3/4 tsp sugar
2 tbs warm water
2/3 + cup Greek style yoghurt
1/4 cup olive oil
10 ounces bread flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
olive oil

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water and set aside in a warm place for about 10 minutes until frothy. In another small bowl, whisk the yoghurt and olive oil.

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast and yoghurt mixtures. Use your fingers to work in the flour and form a smooth ball. Transfer to mixer and knead with a dough hook on low speed for 10 - 15 minutes until very smooth and shiny. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel and let rise for 2 hours or doubled in size.

Koniya Turkish Pizza

Same as above but instead of a meat and tomato based sauce, it is simply blue cheese mixed with fresh herbs and an egg.