Thursday, August 13, 2009

Recipe: The Salad Matrix

With young kids, we don't have the luxury of trying new and adventurous meals all the time. This means that when I find something that works, we stick with it, but to ensure it does not get boring I try to mix things up a little bit. This brings us to our salad matrix. Without making it complicated, it is the same recipe simply changing the core ingredients for similar ingredients. Each salad ends with a bunch of Lesley Stowe raincoast crisp crackers, an aged balsamic drizzle and extra virgin olive oil drizzle. The salad only takes five minutes to prep and the results are always great.

The rest of the the salad consists of a green, a fruit and a cheese. Essentially you can pick one ingredient from each group and have a great salad every time, although some combinations do work better than others. Try any combination of the groups below for your own great salad creation:

Baby Romaine
Baby Field Greens
Baby Lettuce Mix
Baby Spinach
Pears (great to have on hand when the berries are not seasonal)

If my math serves me correctly, that is 144 different salad combinations! And there is no reason you can't incorporate your own favorite fruits, greens or cheeses. The following is a link to a video and recipe for one version of the salad above: Strawberry, Spinach, Mozzarella Salad
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Go To Wines

great wines for any mealI am mostly a red wine drinker, but I do enjoy a glass of white wine on a hot summer day given the right meal. This being said over the years there have been a few bottles of wine that I have always gone back again and again. They are probably very similar to a lot of peoples go to wines, but they have almost never failed me.

If I was a wine connoisseur I would probably say that I like a smooth red that is medium to full bodied with soft tannins, berry and cherry flavours and undertones of vanilla. I like a white that is a little sweeter, generally a Riesling, from Germany (although I have found some local Ontario Rieslings that are very nice) with hints of apple, orange and a little zip from notes of citrus.

But I am not a connoisseur, I am just a guy that likes wine and cooks some pretty good food. All this being said if I ran into an "professional" wine taster they would probably say that my go to list below doesn't even match my descriptions. Oh well, at the end of the day I enjoy these wines. Also the longer I take to try an pick out the different flavours and undertones of leather and chocolate, the less time I am spending enjoying the wine.

On to the wines. All the wines below are under $15 CAD in Ontario (except for the McManis which is not available in our Government run wines stores) and are fairly widely accessible.

1. Velletri Riserva
2. Rosemount Estates Diamond Label Shiraz
3. Yellow Tail Shiraz
4. Two Oceans Cabernet Merlot
5. McManis Cabernet (I believe this is also a vintage, but I haven't had a bad year)
6. Sterling Vintner's Merlot

1. Bend In the River Riesling
2. Vineland Estates Riesling (probably not that accessible outside Ontario)
3. Lingenfelder Bird Label Riesling (also a vintage but I have never had a bad year)

1. Henkell Trocken
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Recipe: Baked Chicken Wings

Baked Chicken WingsOkay, I know what you are saying "Baked Lays suck!". Well, that is what I say. Hence why would I bake my chicken wings instead of frying? I have several reasons but the main reason is I don't actually deep fry anything (with the exception of tempura for dynamite rolls, but that is a different post). These chicken wings are done in the oven and don't sacrifice any flavour or texture.

The Recipe:
3 lbs of split chicken wings
1 tbsp sea salt
20 peppercorns
2 tbsp of paprika
1 tsp of cayenne (adjust depending on how hot you want, although I would not go below 1/2 tsp as the cayenne will kick up the other flavours without adding too much heat)
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp of Olive Oil

Pat dry all you chicken wings with a paper towel, as any excess water will make it harder for the wings to get crispy, and place in a large casserole dish (a cookie sheet will most likely cause the wings on the bottom to burn). Grind sea salt, peppercorns, paprika, cayenne and sugar in a mortar and pestle. Add the spices and olive oil to the wings and rub the mixture into the wings until you have an even coating on the wings, yes you have to get your hands dirty. Spread out wings so that they are one level deep (don't just throw them on top of each other). Place in a 375F degree preheated oven. After about 30 minutes remove the dish from the oven, drain all the liquid from the dish and set it aside (this liquid will stop the wings from getting crispy). Flip the wings, careful you don't lose too much skin on the dish and return them to oven for another 15 minutes. Depending on the moisture in the wings you may want end with about 2-3 minutes of broil to crisp up the skin.

The Dipping Sauce:
Liquid drained off chicken wings
1/4 cup of ketchup (you could substitute with tomato paste, 1 more tbsp of brown sugar and 1 tsp of vinegar)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp of brown sugar
Hot Sauce to taste

Start by separating the oil from the liquid we drained off the wings earlier. My favourite method is to place the liquid in a tall skinny glass and use a turkey baster to suck the liquid from below to oil. In a bowl combine the separated liquid, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and hot sauce and mix until uniform and smooth. Don't be alarmed when you go to dip your wing and it bounces back at you, the collagen from the reserved liquid will cause the sauce to congeal. If this happens simply stir it up with a fork until smooth again. You can also make separate bowls for the family depending on who is a suicide or mild fan.

Baked Chicken Wings on Foodista
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