Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Marinated Flank Steak: Korean Style

Korean Style Flank SteakThe flank steak is very flavourful and can be quite tender if prepared and cooked properly. It also has the benefit of being about half the price of a New York strip. The flank steak should be marinated to break down the connective tissue. By using a vacuum container, you can significantly reduce the marinating time and generate great flavour. Creating a vacuum opens the pores of the meat and allows the Korean style marinade in this recipe to penetrate the meat more deeply and quickly, while the acid from the vinegars tenderizes the meat.

The Ingredients: Korean Style Marinated Flank Steak
Serves 2-3 people, prep time 5 minutes, marinade time 2-4 hours, cook time 7 minutes, rest time 5 minutes

½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup mirin
¼ cup roasted sesame seed oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 medium sized cloves of garlic minced
3 tbsp fresh ginger finely chopped
½ tsp of crushed chili flakes

1½ lbs of flank steak
1 tsp of fine sea salt
1 tsp of fresh ground pepper

Combine the brown sugar, garlic, ginger and chili flakes in a bowl. Rub the mixture into flank steak.

Place the steak in a vacuum container.

Pour the soy sauce, mirin and roasted sesame seed oil over the steak. If the steak is not completely covered by the marinade you can add more liquid in the same ratio.

Pump the air out of the vacuum container and place it in the fridge for one to three hours. Remove the steak from the fridge one hour before you are ready to cook. The steak should be grilled at room temperature to ensure it’s evenly cooked and tender.

Ten minutes before cooking, remove the steak from the marinade and sprinkle sea salt and pepper on both sides.

BBQ Method:

Turn on your BBQ to high heat, close the lid and allow it to heat up. The BBQ should be 500-600 degrees before grilling the steak.

Flank Steak on the BBQPlace the steak over the flame, close the lid and do not touch.

After 3 1/2 minutes flip the steak and close the lid once again.

Wait another 3 ½ minutes and remove the steak from the BBQ. It is not recommended to cook flank steak much more than medium-rare or it will become tough and chewy.

Place the steak on a plate, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes.

When slicing a flank steak always cut thin slices on a diagonal against the grain to ensure tender bites. Serve with rice and salad, and enjoy!

Stove Method:

Turn on the oven broiler to 500 degrees (or high). Heat a large oven safe pan over the stove top on high heat for about 5 minutes (the pan should be as hot as it can get).

When you place the steak in the pan it should sear immediately (make sure you have the exhaust fan on as it will probably smoke).

After 30 seconds, flip the steak and sear for another 30 seconds.

Place the pan in the oven directly under the broiler for 3 minutes.

Remove the pan, flip the steak and return the steak to the oven for another 3 minutes. It is not recommended to cook flank steak much more than medium-rare or it will become tough and chewy.

Place the steak on a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil for 5 minutes.

When slicing a flank steak always cut thin slices on a diagonal against the grain to ensure tender bites. Serve with rice, salad and enjoy!

Click Here to Read More..

Friday, December 25, 2009

Tomato Soup with Roasted Paprika, Balsamic and Basil

Tomato Soup with Roasted Paprika, Balsamic & BasilThis savory tomato soup recipe is the answer to a quick dinner on a cold winter night. Reach into the pantry to use tomatoes canned at their peak ripeness to provide a rich flavour base. With a perfect balance of smoky sweetness and acidity, this soup is a great way to highlight your tomato harvest. If you don’t have home canned tomatoes, good quality store bought canned tomatoes will do.

The Ingredients: Tomato Soup with Roasted Paprika, Balsamic & Basil
Serves 4, prep time 5 minutes, cooking time 25 minutes

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic minced
4 medium shallots diced
3 tbsp roasted paprika
½ tsp of cayenne
4 cups tomato puree
4 cups of chicken stock
4 tbsp freshly chopped basil
4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp sea salt
Aged cheddar cheese (optional)

Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat for one minute. Add the olive oil and shallots and stir for about three minutes.

Add the garlic and continue stirring for another minute until the shallots are soft and translucent.

Add the roasted paprika and cayenne. The spices can burn quite easily, hence stir consistently for about 30 seconds.

Increase the heat to high and add the tomato puree. Continue cooking for about four minutes, stirring occasionally.

Straining the Tomato Soup through a SieveAdd the chicken stock, balsamic, basil, brown sugar and salt. Bring the soup to a boil, stirring occasionally, and reduce heat to medium-low.

Let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes to let the flavours meld.

Just before serving, strain the soup through a fine sieve to ensure a beautifully smooth consistency. Shave some aged cheddar cheese on top and sprinkle with fresh basil.

Click Here to Read More..

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fluffy Chocolate Cheesecake

Fluffy Chocolate CheesecakeThis cheesecake has a soft, cotton-like texture that contrasts the traditional dense and heavy New York style cheesecake, but maintains that delectable cream cheese flavour. Cheesecake is a beautiful dessert but is often too delicate to transfer from a baking dish to the serving plate. Using the Cake Pan with Ceramic Serving Plate, this sumptuous cake can go from the oven to the table without a problem. For something even more decadent, add chocolate.

The Ingredients: Fluffy Chocolate Cheesecake
Serves 12, prep time 30 minutes, cooking time 1 hour 15 minutes, cooling time 1-2 hours

1 1/2 cups of chocolate graham crackers crumbs
¼ cup of melted butter
¼ cup of brown sugar

¼ cup of butter
¼ cup of whole milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
7 ounces of cream cheese (200 grams)
6 eggs, separated
½ cup of cake flour
4 tbsp of cornstarch
3 tbsp of cocoa powder
½ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup of sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

To make the crust, melt the butter in a small saucepan and combine with cookie crumbs and brown sugar. Mix the crust with your hands to ensure an even consistency.

Spread the crumbs evenly across the bottom of the cake pan, and with your fingertips, firmly press the crust down.

Bake for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown.
Mixing the batterIn preparation for the cake, fill a roasting pan half way with warm water and place it on the bottom rack of the oven. Place the rack for the cheesecake above the roasting pan. This helps prevent the top of the cake from cracking while baking.

To make the cheesecake, melt the butter in a large bowl over a double boiler. Once the butter is melted, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the milk, vanilla extract and cream cheese until the mixture is smooth.

If the mixture is still warm, place the bowl in the fridge for a few minutes until it has cooled.

Whisk the egg yolks into the cooled mixture.

Combine the cornstarch, flour and cocoa powder in a small bowl and sift into the mixture. Mix until it is a smooth consistency and set the bowl aside.

In another large bowl, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar. Whip the egg whites until they are frothy but not stiff (they should not hold their shape).

Add the sugar and continue blending the mixture until soft peaks form.

Combine the content of the bowls and fold together until the cake mix is uniform, trying not to over mix.

Grease the side of the cake pan with butter. Pour the cake mix over the crust in the cake pan and give it a little jiggle until the top is even.
Pouring the batter into the pan
Place the cake in the oven on the rack just above the roasting pan and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remember not to open the door while it is baking as this could cause the cake to fall. When finished, turn off the heat and leave the cake inside without opening the door. After 15 minutes, open the oven door slightly and leave the cake inside the oven for another 45 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and bring it to room temperature before serving. However, this cake also works well chilled overnight and served cold.

Click Here to Read More..

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chocolate Crinkles

Chocolate CrinklesI had never made chocolate crinkles before (or really heard of them) until I came across them in another food blog of holiday baking. I thought they looked like a lot of fun! The first batch of crinkles I made, I used milk chocolate (I always use milk chocolate, as I am a bit of an addict), but the results were definitely not as rich and moist as I would like. I made a few more adaptations, including replacing some of the flour with cocoa powder, and these ones are great!

The Recipe: Chocolate Crinkles
makes 40, prep time 25 minutes, cook time 8 minutes, time to completion 4 hours

3 1/2 ounces (200 grams) of bittersweet chocolate (71% percent)
1/2 cup of sweet butter
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs at room temperature (place an bowl of warm water for a couple of minutes if you forget to take the eggs out of the fridge)
1/2 cup of white sugar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 3/4 cups of flour
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
1/4 tsp finely ground sea salt
2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup of icing sugar

Melt the chocolate and butter in a small sauce pan over low heat. Add the vanilla after the chocolate and butter are melted.

In a mixing bowl add the white sugar, brown sugar and eggs. Beat the mixture, on high, with an electric mixer for about 10 minutes, until it runs off the beater in a nice thick ribbon.

Continue mixing on low while adding the melted chocolate mixture.

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, sea salt and baking powder. Sift and gently fold into the previous mixture about 1/4 cup at a time. This will take some work but it is worth it!

Once the crinkle mixture is uniform, place it in the fridge.

After 3 hours remove the crinkles from the fridge and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Using your hands make balls about 1 inch in diameter and squish them slightly.

Roll the balls in the icing sugar until generously coated and no chocolate is showing.

Cook on a cookie sheet for 8 minutes. Do not over cook the crinkles as they will lose a lot of moisture and delicate texture if over cooked. Transfer to a cooling rack and enjoy! These are the best right out of the oven!

Click Here to Read More..

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread CookiesThe Christmas baking season is not complete without Gingerbread and with kids and a wife, there was no escaping! I have avoided the making of a Gingerbread house to date but I am not sure I will be able hold out. Next year fore sure....

Any who...I don't like my Gingerbread to be too strong or too hard, hence I reduce the molasses a bit, and use egg yolks to give them a little extra richness. Benny was a big fan this year and helped us decorate them with a little royal icing (1 egg white, 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and 1 cup of icing sugar - whip eggs and tartar till frothy, add sugar and beat until medium peaks) and red smarties.

The Recipe: Gingerbread Cookies
makes 24 (medium sized men), prep time 25 minutes, cook time 12 minutes

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 egg yolks (reserve the white for royal icing)
1/32 cup of molasses
2 1/2 cups of flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp finely ground sea salt
1 tsp powder ginger
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, whip the butter until smooth and creamy with an electric mixer.

Add the brown sugar, egg yolks, and molasses one at time. Continue mixing after each is added until mixture is smooth again.

Combine the flour, sea salt, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon and sift into the wet ingredients. Mix until smooth, the easiest way is with your hands.

Ben with his gingerbread creationsWith a floured rolling pin, on a well flour surface, roll the dough until about a 1/3 of an inch thick. Cut out your shapes and transfer to a cookie sheet (as always I prefer using clay of silpat to prevent the bottoms from burning).

Cook for 12 minutes, remove and let cool before decorating!

Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Best Rumballs

the Best Rum BallsCalling these the "Best Rum balls" is a personal opinion, and in all honesty I haven't eaten a tone of Rum Balls. What I do know is that these are great! Before this recipe I only made Rum Balls because my wife forced me to for the holiday season, hence I was out to make something with the concept of a Rum Ball but much more to my liking. This meant, a little less rum (let's face it, if you want to get drunk, Rum Balls are not going to do it for you, hence you just want the flavour from the rum and you do not want the rum to overpower the dessert), a more delectable chocolate component (stolen from a truffle centre) and a little spice to play off the rum. These are definitely in the Christmas baking line up from here on.

The Recipe: The Best Rum Ball
Makes 24, total time 45 minutes

pinch of finely ground sea salt
1 cup of graham cracker crumbs (double if not adding the nuts)
1 cup of roasted almond crumbs (1 1/2 cups if starting with raw whole almonds, see below)
3 ounces of milk chocolate
2 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp of heavy cream
3 tbsp of dark rum
pinch of cayenne (not too much, we don’t want heat, we are just adding it to punch the flavours with the sea salt as these are always served cold)
1/4 tsp of fresh ground nutmeg
1 tbsp of corn syrup

4 tbsp of icing sugar or cocoa powder for coating the outsides of the Rum Balls

To roast the almonds, add about 1 1/2 cups of raw almonds to a cookie sheet and place in the oven for about 8 minutes at 350 degrees. When they are done the inside will be a darker brown, but the outside should not have burnt.

Place the cooled almonds in your food processor and buzz them until the size of large bread crumbs. Careful you do not buzz them too much or they will make a paste.

making Rum Balls with BennyCombine the almonds, graham cracker crumbs and sea salt in a mixing bowl.

In a sauce pan, melt the chocolate and butter over very low heat while stirring. Remove the pan from the heat just before it is melted and continue stirring until completely melted.

Stir in the cream, rum, corn syrup, cayenne and nutmeg.

Add the chocolate mixture to the mixing bowl and stir until smooth. Place the mixture in the fridge for about ten minutes if it is too mucky to form balls.

Using your hands roll balls about the 3/4 of an inch high. Roll the ball in a dish of either cocoa powder or icing sugar.

Place in the freezer and enjoy directly out of freezer! These will get better with time if you can wait long enough.

Click Here to Read More..

Blondie Train Cake

Blondie Train with Chocolate ChunksAlthough these blondies can be made without the train mould, the mould adds a lot of fun and a gourmet feel to a pretty easy recipe. Using a blondie recipe instead of a cake recipe for the train mould also gives you the benefit of not having to use icing, so you retain the details of the train.

The Ingredients: Blondie Train Cake with Chocolate Chunks
Serves about 18, prep time 10 minutes, cook time 25 minutes

2 cups of flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp finely ground sea salt
½ cup of butter at room temperature
¾ cup of sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp of vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 milk chocolate bar (100 grams) coarsely chopped
Icing sugar (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Blondie DoughIn a large bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and butter. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Continue to blend while adding each egg.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Sift into the wet ingredients and mix until smooth.

Add the milk chocolate and stir in evenly.

Grease the train mould with butter using a paper towel to get all the details and gently dust with flour using a sifter or sieve.

Add the mixture to one train car at a time and fill each car about ¾ high. This batter should make enough for the entire train; however make sure you fill the engine and caboose first just in case you do not have enough batter!
Blondie Dough in Train Tin
Bake for 25 minutes, remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. With a long knife, gently trim any blondie that has risen higher than the train mould.

Place a cutting board or cookie sheet on top of the mould and carefully flip the mould over. Each train should come out quite easily!

For a neat winter effect, dust with icing sugar — put about 3 tbsp of icing sugar in a fine sieve and tap while holding the sieve over the train.

Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Caramel Shortbread

caramel shortbreads, aka millionaire shortbreadsCaramel shortbreads are also known as millionaire shortbreads because of their rich flavour. The first caramel shortbread I had was in a small suburb of Glasgow called Wishaw, where my wife’s family is from. We stopped in a very unassuming coffee shop on Main Street as it was a couple doors away from the apartment her great grandfather was born in. My wife immediately ordered the tea and shortbread special as it seemed fitting, but I noticed something called a caramel shortbread on the menu. My wife's shortbread came out quickly but the waitress said that mine would be a little longer as she was waiting for the chocolate to dry. I didn't even know it had chocolate in it! When it came, it was a delicious surprise that I accidently forgot to share with anyone else. Hence, I felt a little obligated to make a caramel shortbread of my own to share with my family. I changed things slightly by making a brown sugar shortbread with a homemade caramel sauce. The brown sugar added a little flavour and a bit of a crunch, but it can definitely be substituted with white sugar for a traditional shortbread.

The Ingredients: Caramel Shortbreads
Makes 1 dozen, prep time 40 minutes, baking time 30 minutes, cooling time 1 hour 30 minutes

1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of butter
1 1/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup of cornstarch
Pinch of finely ground sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 brown sugar
1/4 cup of sugar
2 tbsp of butter
1/4 cup of heavy cream
2 ounces of milk chocolate chopped

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

To make the shortbreads, start by blending the brown sugar for about 5 minutes on high speed in a food processor of coffee grinder.

Whip the butter with an electric blender until creamy and smooth.

Combine the salt, brown sugar, cornstarch, flour and sift in to the butter.

On a floured surface work the mix until it forms a dough this will take a little work and it may not seem like it will come together without more liquid, but keep working at it and it will be great!

Roll the dough into a layer about half an inch thick. The dough makes about 12 pieces 1 inch by 2 inches but feel free to make whatever shape you want.

Place in the oven on a cookie sheet (I suggest using clay or silpat to eliminate any premature browning on the bottoms). Bake for 30 minutes and let cool for about an hour before adding the toppings.

caramel drizzle on the shortbreadsTo make the caramel, combine the butter, white sugar and brown sugar in a saucepan with high sides (when you add the cream it can boil up quite high). Melt it over low heat while stirring, this will take about 5 minutes.

Once all the sugar is dissolved remove it from the heat, add the cream and mix well.

Strain the caramel sauce through a sieve to remove any pieces that crystallized when added the cream.

Let the caramel cool for about 10-20 minutes and drizzle over the centre of each shortbread. With a butter knife, gently spread the caramel to the edges.

Place the shortbreads in the fridge.

In a small sauce pan, melt the chocolate over very low heat stirring consistently. Remove it from the heat just before it has all melted and continue stirring until it has entirely melted.

Remove the shortbreads form the fridge and drizzle with the melted chocolate. Again, use a butter knife to spread the chocolate to each corner. Place the cookies back in the fridge for about 10 minutes and enjoy!

Click Here to Read More..

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chocolate Truffles

white and milk chocolate tufflesTruffles are actually easier to make than you think, you just have to make sure that you have are starting with good products. Each year at Christmas we make some truffles for the season. This year we decided to get a little more creative and make milk chocolate, white chocolate, baileys, chocolate orange, mint chocolate and some variations on each (white shell on milk centre etc...). My favorite was the milk chocolate with white chocolate shell, although for someone who is not known to love orange chocolate, these were very nice. The mint chocolate were our least favorites as they were a little too herby tasting, if that makes sense. Infusing the flavour in the cream works really well so have some fun and experimenting and let me know how it goes.

The Ingredients: Chocolate Truffles

Makes 10-15 (although this all depends on how big you make them), start to finish these take about 1.5 hours with an hour of cooling time.

Basic truffle filling (you can adjust the amounts in the same ratio to make more):
3 ounces of chocolate (white or milk)
1 tbsp of sweet butter
1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
1/8 tsp of finely ground sea salt

3 ounces of chocolate
1 tsp of shortening

Handful of mint leaves freshly chopped
1 tbsp of baileys (replaces 1 tbsp of heavy cream)
Peel (with any pulp) of an orange roughly chopped

chocolate truffle centre mixIf you are making orange or mint chocolate truffles start by bring the cream to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, pour the cream over the orange or mint in a small bowl. Let the mixture steep while preparing the chocolate (approximately 5-7 minutes).

In a small saucepan, melt the butter chocolate for the filling over very low heat, whiling stirring consistently. It takes a little longer but you can hold the pot just over the heat, but not directly on the heat, to prevent it from burning.

Once completely melted stir in the heavy cream and mix well until smooth. If you are making a variation, strain the cream in through a fine metal seive and remove the mint or orange.

There is a chance that the mixture will break, if this happens continue stirring with a small whisk or a fork until the mixture come together again.

Place in mixture in the fridge for to 10-30 minutes, stirring every five minutes. When it is ready, the chocolate will be firm and a fork will not easily stir it. This sounds a little complicated until you try it, it is quite easy to tell when the chocolate is ready to roll into a ball and when it is just a gucky mess in your hands.

naked truffles ballsWhen it is ready, remove it from the fridge and roll small balls, approximately the diameter of a quarter, with your hands. Place the balls on cookie sheet cover with parchment paper and place back in the fridge.

Melt the remaining chocolate and shortening in a small saucepan.

Remove the truffle centres from the fridge and submerge them in the melting chocolate covering the entire ball. Use a small spoon to drizzle chocolate over the balls if needed (especially when you are getting to the end).

Place the truffles back on the cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and put it back in the fridge until the outside hardens, about 15 minutes.

You can add decorations on top with more drizzled chocolate or candied oranges if you want. Enjoy!

Click Here to Read More..

Friday, November 27, 2009

Roasted Garlic Gnocchi with White Wine Rose Sauce

fluffy roasted garlic gnocchiCreating beautiful pillow-like gnocchi is all about the correct tools and products. Using the right potatoes and flour is important to ensure you do not end up with a heavy gnocchi. Always use a good baking potato that turns light and dry when cooking. Equally important is using a potato ricer to mash the potatoes to ensure the potatoes are smooth and fluffy before making the dough.

The Recipe: Roasted Garlic Gnocchi with a White Wine Rose Sauce
Serves 4-6 as a side dish and 2-3 as a main course, prep time 1 1/2 hours (includes1 hour for baking the potatoes), cooking time 30 minutes

2 large Russet potatoes
1 cup of semolina flour
1 head of garlic
Drizzle of olive oil
Pinch of pepper
½ tsp sea salt plus 2 tbsp
½ an egg beaten

3 tbsp of butter
2 medium sized shallots diced
1 clove of garlic minced
½ cup of dry Riesling
2 tbsp tomato paste
¾ cup of 2% milk
Pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
Parmesan cheese

roasted garlic gnocchi with rose sauceHeat the oven to 360 degrees.

Cut across the entire head of garlic so that all the tips are cut off, and place the garlic in the center of a six inch square piece of tin foil. Drizzle with olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Fold the foil over top of the garlic to make a pouch.

Poke three sets of holes in each potato with a fork. Place the potatoes and garlic in the oven.

Remove the garlic after about 30 minutes and open the tin foil package to allow the garlic to cool.

Once the garlic has cooled, squeeze the soft cloves of garlic into a small bowl.

After one hour, check the potatoes with a fork to see if they are done. Continue cooking the potatoes until the insides are completely soft.

Using an oven mitt to hold the hot potato carefully cut the potato in half and scoop out the insides. Discard the potato skins and place the potato directly into a potato ricer with the roasted garlic.

Squeeze the potato and garlic through the ricer onto a clean surface. Spread the mixture out evenly into a thin layer allowing it to cool and also release some more moisture.

Once the potato mixture has cooled, add the egg and sprinkle evenly with the sea salt and about ¾ of the flour. Mix the dough only enough to ensure it is consistent throughout. Form the dough into a ball, adding more flour if necessary. The dough should be moist but not sticky. Over mixing will make the gnocchi thick and heavy.

Split the dough into six even pieces. With your hands roll the first piece of dough into a cylinder shape about the diameter of your thumb. With a straight edge, cut the pieces of gnocchi about ¾ of an inch to one inch pieces. Continue with this step until all six pieces are complete.

With the back of a fork, gently press each piece of gnocchi to create small ridges. This helps to sop up the sauce when eating.

Heat a large pot of water, with two tbsp of salt, to a rolling boil. Add the gnocchi and give a little stir to ensure that they do not stick together. When the pieces of gnocchi are ready, they will float to the surface. With a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi and place in a colander until the sauce is ready.

To make the sauce, heat a large saucepan to medium-high heat. Add one tbsp of the butter, the sea salt and the shallots. Cook the shallots for about three minutes stirring frequently, and add the garlic. Continue cooking for another minute.

Add the wine and cook over high heat until almost all the liquid is evaporated.

Stir in the tomato paste until evenly incorporated.

Add the milk and bring the sauce to a boil while stirring.

Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tbsp of butter.

Add the gnocchi and basil to your serving bowl. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into the bowl, removing the pieces shallot and garlic. Sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan and enjoy!

Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Turkey and Chicken Meatloaf

meatloafIf you read my blog often, you might be starting to see a trend with traditional ground beef dishes. Every week I purchases 1 1/2 pounds of dark ground turkey and dark ground chicken and out of these I make recipes like tacos, lasagne, hamburgers, meatballs etc... Because my wife cannot eat red meat and we do not introduce red meat to our children until the age of 2 I had to find a good substitute to make some of my favourite recipes. I only use dark meat because it has a lot more flavour and the white meat can dry out very easily. The end result is that most people do not even know it isn't beef. Anyways, this week we were having meatloaf. The key to a good meatloaf is taking some time up front to cook your vegetables to bring out the flavour before you add to the meatloaf!

The Recipe: Turkey and Chicken Meatloaf
Serves 4 with leftovers for lunch, prep time 40 minutes, Cook time 45 minutes.
1 1/2 pounds dark ground turkey
1 1/2 pounds dark ground chicken
1 egg
1 cup of bread crumbs
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
3 ounces of old cheddar cheese cubed 1/4 inch
2 tbsp of tomato paste
1 medium sized onion diced
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 red pepper finely diced
8 medium sized button mushrooms finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp paprika
Pinch of cayenne

Heat a skillet over med-high heat. When ready add the olive oil, onion and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes stirring frequently.

Add the garlic and continue to cook and stir for another 2 minutes.

Add the cayenne, chili powder, paprika and cook for 1 minute stirring consistently to ensure you do not burn the spices.

Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until most of the moisture is out of the mushrooms (about 5 minutes). Set the pan off the heat.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the turkey, chicken, egg, bread crumbs, sea salt, ground pepper, worchestershire sauce, parsley, basil, oregano, old cheddar cheese, tomato paste and mix together with your hands.

Add the mixture from the skillet and mix with a spoon so that you do not burn yourself.

Place the mixture in a large casserole dish and form it into a loaf shape with your hands.

Place in the oven and cook for about 45 minutes. I recommend using a meat thermometer to determine when it is done as the size of the loaf will determine the cooking time. The loaf is ready when it is 177 degrees (if you cook it to the full 180 degrees it will continue cooking once removed and end up little dryer). Enjoy!

Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pan Seared Scallops

Pan Seared ScallopsScallops are a real treat when you can get them fresh and dry packed at your local fish monger. Even better, if you ever see them still in the shell you can't pass them up. Sea scallops packed in water or frozen lose a lot of their flavour and will be hard to cook and keep their shape. The greatest challenge with a beautiful sea scallop is not messing them up. Fresh out of the ocean they are a treat right out of the shell! Keeping it simple and cooking them right is the key. This recipe adds a little salt and tart flavour with the topping to play off the wonderful sweetness of the scallop!

The Recipe: Pan Seared Sea Scallops with a warm Parsley Lemon Butter
Serves 2, prep time 5 minutes, cook time 10 minutes.
8 fresh dry packed sea scallops
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp butter

Parsley Lemon Butter:
1 shallot finely diced
1 clove garlic finely minced
Rind of 1 lemon
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
2 tbsp butter
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of fresh ground pepper

In a small pan sauté the shallots and garlic in 1/2 tbsp of butter over medium heat for about 5 minutes, careful not to burn the shallots and garlic.

Add sea salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon rind and continue reducing for another minute.

Remove from heat and stir in remaining butter until melted.

Add parsley and set aside in the pan.

Place the uncooked scallops on a folded paper towel to absorb any moisture they may have. The dryer the scallop the better it will sear.

Heat your heaviest skillet over high heat for about 5 minutes until very hot. The pan will probably start to smoke. Add the coconut oil then the butter, they will probably also start smoking immediately.

Add the scallops and sear for about 1 minute then flip. Sear for another minute and remove. The scallops should be slightly brown on each side.

Place the scallops on a paper towel before putting them on your plate (the paper towel will absorb any grease on them).

Top each scallop with a small amount of the parsley lemon butter and enjoy!

Related Recipes
Seared TunaRecipe: Pan Seared Tuna
The key to tuna is cooking it properly, really hot and not too long! The roasted pepper sauce is a beautiful and simple addition to the tuna steak.
Recipe: Crusted Halibut with Basmati Rice
Halibut is beautiful white fish that tastes great and extremely healthy.

Click Here to Read More..

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pan Seared Tuna

Pan Seared TunaA nice tuna steak is a great change every once in a while. We eat fish normally once a week and stick to wild halibut or salmon (sometimes organic salmon as well), but the halibut and salmon did not look great this week. However I was happily surprised that my fish monger had some sushi grade tuna that did look great. Quality is very important with fish, especially tuna steaks, as the center will be raw once cooked (does that even make sense?:)). The key to tuna is cooking it properly, really hot and not too long! The roasted pepper sauce was a beautiful and simple addition to the tuna steak. I am sometimes limited by what I can find organically at the local markets, hence I made a yellow pepper sauce, but this would also be great with roasted red peppers.

The Recipe: Pan Seared Tuna with Roasted Pepper Sauce
2 servings, prep time 25 minutes, cook time 5 minutes

2 pieces of sushi grade tuna about 1/2 pound each
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

Roasted Pepper Sauce:
1 shallot finely diced
1 clove of garlic minced
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 large red or yellow pepper (I used three small peppers)
2 tbsp chicken stock
pinch of sea salt
pinch of pepper

Parsley Drizzle:
1/4 cup of parsley
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Roasted Pepper Sauce:
Roasting yellow peppersTo roast the peppers I place them directly over the flame on my stove top (I have a gas stove), although you can also use the broiler on the oven. The key to roasting the pepper is making sure that all the skin is black. Any skin that is not black will stick to the pepper when you are trying to peel it. You will need to rotate the pepper often while roasting.

Once the pepper is completely blackened, place it in a paper bag to steam for about 10 minutes.

Remove the pepper from the bag and gently scrape the blackened skin off with the edge of a knife. Remove the stem and seeds. Do not rinse the pepper under water as it removes a lot of flavour.

In a small pan add 1/2 tbsp of the olive oil and sauté the shallots and garlic over med-high heat for 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and transfer to a blender.

Add the remaining extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and pepper to the blender. Blend until smooth and remove from blender.

The Tuna:

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat for about 5 minutes (do not use non-stick pan, it is a serious health hazard to heat a non-stick pan to high). The pan should be as hot as the stove can make it!

While the pan is heating, add salt and pepper to each side of the tuna and gently rub them in with olive oil.

Place the tuna in the pan and sear for about 1 minute, flip and continuing searing the tuna for another minute. Remove the tuna from the pan. Fire alarm alert, I suggest purchasing the kind that have the remote off buttons! The outside of the tuna should be completely seared and the middle should be raw.

Combine the parsley and olive oil in a mortar and pestle and grind until smooth. You can add a little coarse sea salt if you are having a challenge grinding the parsley.

I suggest placing the parsley drizzle and roasted pepper sauce beside the tuna on the plate so that you are able to get as much or little as you want with every bite. Enjoy!

Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Broken Down Roast Chicken

Broken Down Roast ChickenIf your family is anything like mine they love roast chicken, but you don't always have a couple hours to sit around and baste a chicken. Also, since my wife is a breast person and I am a leg man it is extra nice to be able to cook a whole chicken. The recipe also has the benefit of reserving the extra bones to make a great stock. On top of all this, it is a quick prep and wonderful juicy chicken, some even say they like it better than a full roast chicken. Here is a video showing how I break down my chicken.

Recipe: Broken Down Roast Chicken
Serves 4-6 (this recipes is easily scaled, I have used 2 lb and 7 lb chickens), prep time 10 minutes, cook time approx 45 minutes

1 6 lb Broken Down Chicken (bones on, 2 breast, 2 legs, 2 wings)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp butter

The Rub:
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp roasted paprika
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tsp peppercorns

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. After breaking down the chicken combine all the rub ingredients in a large mortar and pestle and grind until uniform. I understand that not everyone has a large mortar and pestle, my recommendation is buy one! Aside from that, make sure you grind the peppercorns and dried herbs before you mix them with the rest of the spices. The grinding helps release the flavours from the spices and herbs; hence it adds a little more flavour to the dish.

Liberally coat each piece of chicken on all sides with the rub and work it into the chicken. If you have extra rub save it for the next time you need a quick fix meal!

Heat your largest oven safe pan over high heat on the stove top. After the pan is up to temperature, add the oil and butter (the coconut oil will raise the burning point of the butter significantly).

Add each piece of chicken skin side down. The chicken should sizzle immediately if your pan is hot enough. Cook for 2 minutes then flip each piece of chicken. The breast may need to be turned a couple of times to sear all sides. The searing not only locks in the juices, but also will ensure crispy skin (my favourite part, the dog and I fight for my wife's skin)!

Once the skin side is up, place the entire pan in the oven. I suggest using a thermometer in the thickest part of the breast to determine cooking time. The chicken is ready when the breast temperature is between 175-180 degrees. I like to take my chicken out a little early and let it rest for a couple of minutes. This will ensure the temperature reaches the require 180 degrees but does not dry out.

A six pound chicken will take about 45 minutes to cook. If you do not have a thermometer, after about 40 minutes, you can take a little slice into the thickest part of the breast to make sure it is cooked through.
Click Here to Read More..

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fluffy Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Pumpkin PieI thought I would end pumpkin week with the most classic pumpkin recipe. Pumpkin pie! This pie recipe is an adaptation of Edna Staebler's fluffy pumpkin pie. I love the soft and smooth texture combined with the classic pumpkin flavours. This recipe will not disappoint! For the crust, I used Grandma's pie crust recipe.

The Recipe: Pumpkin Pie
Makes one 9" pie filling, prep time 15 minutes (provided you have the crust and pumpkin already prepared), cook time 45 minutes
3/4 cup milk
3 eggs, separated
2 cups roasted pumpkin puree
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
small pinch of sea salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl combine sugar, vanilla, eggs and whisk until smooth.

Add the pumpkin and continuing mixing until smooth.

Add the milk, spices, sea salt and mix until smooth again.

In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff (peaks will form and not fall). This will take a couple minutes with an electric beater, but if you are up for the challenge a good 4-5 minutes doing it the old fashion way.

Gentle fold the egg whites into the mixture above using a spatula. Add the egg whites slowly while turning the bowl after each fold. To fold, gently mix starting in the centre of the bowl, curve the spatula and bring it out the side of the bowl. Fold just enough to make the mixture even.

Pour the mixture into the waiting pie crust and place in centre of the oven for 45 minutes. Serve with freshly whipped cream!
Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pumpkin Carving

Carving the pumpkinsI am not sure whether or not carving a pumpkin belongs in a food blog, but since I enjoy it so much I thought I would include my carving from this year. The first pumpkin was supposed to be a construction man since my oldest was going to be a contruction man, but neither worked out quite as planned. I made a helmut for the pumpkin, but since it was the same size as the rest of the head it a appeared more like a ball cap.... oh well still looked good! It was quite a neat experience creating the family traditions with both boys heavily involved in the process.
A Happy Jack-o-LanternThe Monkey & Superman go trick or treatingConstruction Worker Jack-o-Lantern

Click Here to Read More..

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip MufinsI think these are my new favourite muffins! They are fluffy, moist and packed with great flavour. What makes them even better is the jack o’lantern silicone muffin tray that I gave my wife such a hard time for purchasing. My 3 year old loves the little faces on the bottom of the muffins when they come out of the tray. These are definitely a festive treat with a coffee or tea on a cool fall morning.
The Recipe: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 16 muffins and takes 20 minutes to prep and 18 - 20 min to cook.
2 cups pastry flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/4 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups roasted pumpkin

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Combine flour, salt, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, baking soda and baking powder and pour into a large mixing bowl through a sifter.

Add the chocolate chips and stir in evenly. Place the bowl aside.

In another bowl, beat the eggs until frothy and pale yellow. While beating, add in the sugar, oil and roasted pumpkin and continue beating until uniform.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix enough just to incorporate. Do not over mix, the mixture should be lumpy.

Evenly distribute the muffin mixture in greased muffin trays. Place in the oven and cook for 16-20 minutes. Metal muffin tray alert! If you are using a metal muffin tray you will want to monitor the muffins very closely to ensure the bottoms do not burn. I use silicone and clay to ensure the bottom do not burn before the center is cooked. To check doneness you can use the old toothpick trick! Enjoy!
Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pumpkin Creme Brulee

If you are looking for something a little more gourmet than pumpkin pie for a romantic dinner, but still want to keep the fall flavours, this pumpkin creme brulee hits the spot. Contrary to very delicate traditional creme brulee, the pumpkin adds a little more texture to the dessert. The pumpkin creme brulee is a combination of the most delectable pumpkin pie filling and the classiness of the creme brulee.

The Recipe: Pumpkin Creme Brulee
Serves 6 and takes 30 minutes to prep and 1 hour to cook. Cools overnight.
1 3/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 cup white sugar
7 large egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch finely ground sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 cooked pumpkin puree

6 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325 degree. Fill a large casserole dish with 6 ramekins and water half way up the ramekins. Place the casserole dish in the oven while pre-heating and preparing the dessert.

Over medium heat, melt the brown and white sugar in the cream, ensuring you do not burn the cream. Set the pot off the heat. In a large bowl whisk the egg yolks until they are a soft yellow color and frothy. Add about half the cream mixture while whisking to ensure the eggs yolks do not curdle. Once well integrated, add the remaining cream while whisking. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the sea salt to a fine powder. Add the sea salt, vanilla, allspice, cloves and nutmeg. Using a fine mesh steel seive press the pumpkin puree through and into the mixture, this may take a little bit of work depending on how fine the pumpkin is pureed. Whisk the mixture to ensure all the ingredients are smooth.

Carefully remove the casserole dish from the oven. If you are feeling confident you can pour the mixture directly into the ramekins, about 2/3 high, although I would recommend transferring the mixture to something with a spout before pouring in the ramekins. Return the casserole dish to the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, the creme brulee can be removed from the oven once the mixture is firm. Place in fridge over night.

Once ready to serve combine the sugar and cinnamon for the topping. Sprinkle over the top of the pumpkin creme brulee and either place directly under the broiler (with the oven door open) or use a kitchen blow torch (available at most specialty shops) until the sugar is melted. Enjoy!
Click Here to Read More..

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pumpkin Soup

This is wonderful fall soup with the hearty fall flavours associated with pumpkin but also a surprising little kick and some sweetness to round things out. Add a drizzle of heavy cream just before serving to make this even more rich, although if you want to make it vegan you can drop the cream/milk and use vegetable stock.

The Recipe: Pumpkin Soup
This recipe takes about 30 minutes if pumpkin is precooked, Serves 4
Two cups of pureed pumpkin
3 tbsp butter
1 cooking onion diced
3 carrots diced
4 stocks of celery diced (if you want a more rich orange colour leaves these out)
4 cups of stock
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup of milk (the higher the fat content, the richer the soup)
1 tbsp of whipping cream per bowl

Heat a large saucepan to medium-high heat and add the butter, onion, carrots and celery. In a separate pot heat the stock to a simmer and turn of the heat. Sautee, stirring frequently for about 7 minutes until the vegetables are soft.

Add the pumpkin, salt, sugar, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and cayenne and continue cooking for another 2 minutes until the pumpkin is brought up to heat.

Stir contents and pour into blender HOT CONTENTS IN BLENDER ALERT, be careful, use a tea towel over the lide and hold tight. Add enough of the stock to be able to puree the contents in a blender until very smooth. Return the contents to the saucepan straining it though a metal seive. This is very important, as it will ensure your pumpkin soup is silky smooth, however it will take some work and you probably have some leftover mash in your seive that will not go through.

Add the remaining stock to the saucepan and add the milk. Bring the pumkpin soup up to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and put in bowls.

To get the pattern like in the picture, drizzle the whipping cream lightly in a sprial over the soup, then with a knife, starting in the middle, drag the knife to the edge of the bowl and repeat about 8 times going around the bowl. Serve and enjoy!

Click Here to Read More..

Monday, October 19, 2009

How To Roast A Pumpkin

I realized that although I have been posting pumpkin recipes all week, I have failed to highlight the most important part....roasting the pumpkin. It is not complicated, but it does take a little time and it can be a challenge to cut the pumpkin in half. Surprisingly I do find that the safest and one of the easiest ways to cut the pumpkin is with a cheap pumpkin carving knife for kids. The knife does not have any sharp edges and can be found in most stores that sell Halloween candy.

Usually the best and easiest pumpkin to work with is a small one, but you can use bigger ones if you don't like wasting the jack o'lantern. A small cooking pumpkin about 5" tall will yield about 3 cups of puree. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. With your knife, cut the pumpkin in half. Carefully take the stock off the top of the pumpkin. Scoop out the stringy pieces and seeds with a strong spoon. In a cookie sheet with sides place the pumpkin halves, open side up. Place about 1/2 cup of water in the pan and put in the oven. The cooking time will depended on how thick the pumpkin is, but it will take the better part of an a hour for most pumpkins. The pumpkin is ready when a fork is able to penetrate the pumpkin without any effort (the pumpkin is very soft). Let the pumpkins cool. Remove the flesh with a spoon by scraping it out, leaving only the skin behind. Voila! fresh pumpkin.

Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Alfredo Sauce

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Alfredo SauceMy favourite meal as a teenager was Fettuccine Alfredo, mostly because I didn't eat anything with noticeable parts of vegetables. Let's just say I grew out if and discovered how great they can be when cooked right. Back to the recipe though, I love making meals like this as I can involve my kids, but you also get a seasonal and definitely gourmet result. The subtle nutmeg with the smooth sweet pumpkin are fabulous together with the alfredo sauce. Pumpkin Gnocchi is a wonderful as meal on its own, but I like to make it as side so that you can enjoy the rich flavours without feeling stuffed at the end of the meal! Tonight I made it with a great bone on rib steak and salad.

The Recipe: Pumpkin Gnocchi with Alfredo Sauce
Makes 2-3 servings as a main course and 4-6 as a side

1 cup of fresh roasted pumpkin (you can use the can stuff if you want, just don't tell me:))
1 egg
1/2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
pinch of sea salt
2-3 cups of flour (this amount will vary, based on the size of you egg, the moisture in the pumpkin etc...)

Alfredo Sauce:
1 Onion very finely diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp sea salt
4 tbsp of butter split in half
2 cups of milk (skim or 2%)
1/4 cup parmesan
Fresh Ground pepper to taste

pumkin gnocchi with the familyIn a large bowl mix pumpkin, egg, olive oil, salt and nutmeg until smooth. Continuing mixing by hand while adding flour 1/2 cup at a time. The mixture will start out very sticky and probably cover you hands but as you add more flour it will start to come together in a dough. You have added enough flour when the dough stops sticking to you hands.

Separate the dough into pieces about 1/2 cup in size (don't worry too mush about the size as long as you can work with it). On a floured counter, roll the dough into long worms about size of a dime in diameter and cut into 3/4 of inch pieces. Set on a lightly floured cookie sheet until all the dough is ready. Some people like to use a fork to make ridges in the top of the gnocchi so that they pick up more sauce, but in the interest of time I usually don't.

Place a large pot of well salted water on the stove and bring to a boil (the same pot you make pasta in). At this point I like to start making the sauce. Once the water boils, start adding the pumpkin gnocchi (I like to put them in one at a time continuously until the pan is done). pumkin gnochhi uncookedonce the gnocchi float to the top they are finish. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place in a colander until all the gnocchi are cooked. Set aside until the sauce is ready,

Bring a large skillet (big enough to hold the Gnocchi after cooking) to medium high heat on the stove top and add the first two tbsp of butter, onion and salt. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, add the garlic and continue cooking for another two minutes ensuring to stir frequently so nothing burns. Add the milk and stir frequently until is boils. Turn heat to low, add the remaining butter, parmesan and pepper and stir. Add the gnocchi, plate and enjoy!
Click Here to Read More..

Friday, October 16, 2009

Recipe: The Delectable Pumpkin Loaf

pumpkin loafWe look forward to fall every year just for this pumpkin loaf, although this is much more of a dessert than a loaf. Fresh out of the oven with some butter and I think it is one of my favourite foods! You can easily re-heat under the broiler with a tab of butter to have that "fresh out of the oven" experience again.

The Recipe: Delectable Pumpkin Loaf
2 cups pumpkin
1 cup oil
2 ½ cups sugar
4 eggs
½ cup water
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
3 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg

In a large bowl combine sugar, eggs, water, pumkin and beat with a hand blender until smooth. Add oil and mix with a large wooden spoon. In a separate bowl combine the flour, sea salt, baking powder, baking soda, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. Sift dry ingredients into the wet mixture and stir unitl smooth. Prepare 3 loaf pans with butter and flour (sometimes if I can only find 2 loaf pans I make bigger loafs and cook a little longer). Bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees and enjoy!
Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted Pumpkin SeedsRoasted pumpkin seeds are a favourite quick treat during the fall, whether they are out of the jack o lanterns, or the pumpkin pies from Thanksgiving they are an unexpected treat. My wife won't let me make anything without saving the seeds, hence I started to make her separate them and I am very thankful she does. If you make these during Halloween you also have something to snack on instead of your child's treat bag!

The Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup of pumpkin seeds
1 pinch of sea salt finely ground
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp of cayenne

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Ensure your seeds are clean and dry (run water over the seeds in sieve and dry with paper toweling). Melt your butter on a cookie sheet and add the the rest of the ingredients. Mix everything together so the pumpkin seeds are even coated. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes checking and lightly tossing every 3-4 minutes. The seeds are done when they start to turn a slightly golden brown (as shown in the picture). Enjoy!
Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Risotto with Peas, Leeks, Tomatoes and Bacon

Risotto with Peas, Leeks, Tomatoes & BaconIn a previous post I made a prosciutto and chicken risotto and included a video for those who wanted to see a risotto being made. This week the ingredients around the house were leeks, fresh sugar snap peas, bacon and cherry tomatoes. I don't usually cook with peas and never used leeks before, but something about them two ingredients spoke to me at the market this week. I had my parents over for this meal and sadly there were no leftovers :(
I also made a quick homemade stock that takes any recipes to a new level. Check out the recipe here...

The Recipe: Risotto with Peas, Leeks, Tomatos and Bacon
1 cup aborio rice
1 tbsp butter
8 pieces of bacon roughly cut
3 Cups of Homemade Stock
2 leeks diced
1 tsp sea salt
pinch of pepper
1 cups of fresh peas
3 cloves of Garlic
10 cherry or grape tomatoes cut in quarters
1/4 parmesan

In a medium saucepan heat the chicken stock over med-low heat, start the stock about five minutes before you start the risotto pan.

To cook the risotto, heat a large pan over high heat. Once hot add the butter, bacon and leeks. After a couple of minutes add the garlic. Stir until the bacon is almost fully cooked or has rendered most of it fat, about 5 minutes total.Preparing the bacon and leeks. Add the rice, salt, pepper and continue to stir, ensuring that you coat the rice in butter and bacon fat. After about 2 minutes you can start to add chicken stock a few ladles at a time. Continue stirring frequently. As the liquid reduces and the rice starts to stick to the pan add more stock, a couple ladles at a time. After about 5 minutes add the fresh peas and continue cooking and stirring. After about 10 minutes and once the rice has significantly increased in size, taste a few pieces of rice for doneness. The rice should be soft through but still have structure. If you run out stock you can add little water until you reach the doneness you want. Once the rice has reach this point you can remove from heat and stir in the parmesan and tomatoes. Congratulations on another beautiful risotto!
Click Here to Read More..

Homemade Chicken Stock

homemade chicken stockIt is a lot easier to buy stock from the store and 95% of the time I am not organized enough to plan ahead to make my own stock, but it is amazing the difference when you make your own stock. This is good enough to eat on its own or in any dish that needs a stock. This one was made for risotto with peas, leeks, tomatoes and bacon. The other nice part about the stock is you can make it in a little over an hour because you are not using precooked chicken that has most of its flavour already released.

The Recipe: Homemade Chicken Stock

bones and neck from one chicken roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
3 large carrots diced
5 stocks of celery diced
2 cooking onions diced
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 large tomato diced
6-8 cups of water
Sea Salt to taste (I use about 2 tsp if I was going to eat on its own)

The key to this recipes is using chicken bones that have not been already cooked. I think most people remember they mother or grandmother making stock from the bones of a thanksgiving turkey, but since the most of the flavour has already been cooked out these bones you need a lot more time and bones to get nice results.

This recipe will make about 4 cups of stock. Heat a large saucepan to high heat and add the oil, bones, celery, carrots and onion. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring frequently ensuring nothing burns. Add the tomatoes, garlic and continue cooking for another minute. Add the water and continue cooking over high heat for about 1 hour, the liquid should reduce a fair bit. Add the sea salt if needed, you may leave the sea salt out if you are using the stock in another recipe (adjust accordingly in your next recipe). Strain the liquid though cheesecloth if have it or simply use a sieve that will ensure you catch any small bones. Reserve in the fridge, freezer or use right away!
Click Here to Read More..

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dublin Food

In Dublin we stayed near Lansdowne stadium in a relatively residential area, close to downtown but definitely not surrounded by shops and restaurants. We did all of our shopping and eating in the area of Sandymount, which had a great supply of high end shops and restaurants within a ten minute walk from our apartment. With a supermarket, butcher, wine store, cheese shop and bakery it definitely met the needs for our in apartment cooking.

Taking it easy and giving the kids a chance to rest we ate in the first night and were able to hit the butcher for chicken breast and prepackaged single use rub. Combine the chicken with a fresh salad with strawberries, mozzarella di buffalo, spinach and a simple vinaigrette of balsamic and olive oil made for a great night in.

The second day we travelled to Malahide on the coast north east of the city. The town definitely catered to a wealthier crowd and had lots of shops and restaurants to choose from, although some a little pricier than others. We ended up at an Italian place and we very happy with the food. The restaurant obviously used high quality ingredients and simple flavourful plates was the norm around the table.

For diner and our final night in Europe we visited the Sandymount area and scoped out the windows for our nights food choice, we ended up in another Italian restaurant called Dunne and Crescenzi. It was a treat as the restaurant was focused on quality and traditional Italian cuisine. I had a beautiful risotto, my wife and sister-in-law had pasta while my father-in-law had the zuppa (minestrone of course)! The restaurant also had a great wine list and since I am not familiar with a lot of the wines on the European menus I had the waiter choose a great wine, and he came in under the budget we gave him! You are definitely paying for your meals in Dublin as the costs seem to be about double of the Scottish restaurant once you weigh in the exchange, but at least we didn’t feel ripped off!

Click Here to Read More..

Cabra Castle Dinner

Cable Castle CrytalAlong with the Hopetoun House, we thought we should stay in a castle while in Ireland. We found Cabra Castle that is about half way between Belfast and Dublin. As our journey was taking us through Portadown in Northern Ireland and onto Dublin to fly home, we thought it a great choice for a castle (and really our only choice). We were not sure what to expect since we have never stayed in a castle. We didn’t know if it was going to live up to the fairy tale images in our mind or if it was going to be a tourist trap.

Cabra Castle Tomato SoupLuckily the first was true. The castle has beautiful grounds and has converted the old carriage houses to guest rooms, along with rooms in the actually castle. We stayed in a carriage house that opened onto a large courtyard that the kids had a great time running around in! The dinner also lived up to expectations. The platings were striking and each course from appetizer, soup, main and dessert delivered beautiful, clean flavours using local products and high quality ingredients. The second course of a rich, smoky tomato soup was one of the highlights of the meal for everyone (especially my father-in-law).

Cabra Castle SteakThe breakfast was again very fresh using local ingredients and had traditional elements like Irish soda bread. A breakfast buffet offered cold cereals, juices and baked goods while you could also order hot dishes off the menu, such as an eggs Benedict or French toast like I had. With local ingredients, fine Irish crystal and an exquisite castle setting, the food portion of the event lived up to its best expectations. Overall the experience was well worth the money and the trip through the countryside.

Click Here to Read More..