Friday, 31 August 2012

Senate Bean Soup

Fall is coming, time for some soups!

1 lb dried beans (navy, pea or great northern) rinsed and picked over
1 meaty ham bone
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 cup diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot soak beans overnight in 2 quarts of water.  Next morning add 2 more quarts water.  Add ham bone, bring to boil and skim.  Cover then simmer 2 hours or until beans begin to fall apart.  Add potatoes, onion, celery and garlic.  Simmer 1 hour longer.  Remove ham bone and cut up meat.  Discard bone; return meat to soup.  If desired, mash beans and potatoes against side of pot to thicken soup.  Season.  Makes 4 quarts and can be frozen.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Sweet'n Sour Chicken

A classic, and very family friendly!

1 can pineapple chunks
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp shortening
1 1/4 cups water
2 cups carrot sticks
3 bouillon cubes or instant broth packets
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup green pepper strips
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
2 1/4 cups minute rice

Drain pineapple, reserving juice.  Add water to juice to make 2 1/4 cups.  Saute onion in shortening in large skillet until tender.  Add 1 1/4 cups water, carrots and bouillon or broth.  Cover and simmer 5 minutes.  Combine sugar, cornstarch and ginger; add ketchup, vinegar and soy sauce, and stir into vegetable mixture.  Cook until clear and thickened.  Add chicken, green pepper and pineapple; cover and simmer 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, bring measured liquid, salt and butter to a boil.  Stir in rice.  Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes.  Serve chicken mixture over rice.

Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Fish Fillets in Batter

I enjoy having the kids help me in the kitchen.  It is a lot messier, but they learn so much!  I do the frying here but the kids can measure and coat the fish.

Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 lbs. fillets of haddock
1 cup sifted all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Dash nutmeg
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk

Add about 2 inches of oil to a saucepan or a frying pan and heat to 375F.  Wash fish and cut into serving size pieces.  Sift flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and nutmeg into a bowl.  Add eggs and milk and beat until smooth.  Batter should be quite thick.  Dip fish into batter then drop into hot oil, two pieces at a time.  Fry until batter turns a deep golden brown.  Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Toscano Mushroom Manicotti with Spinach Bechamel Bake

So just to be different, I changed the Manicotti in this recipe to turkey breast slices :)  It was wonderful!
Here is the recipe as I saw it in Food and Drink Autumn 2010 - but I highly recommend the turkey (smoked if you can).

Tomato Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup tomato paste

Spinach Bechamel
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bag pre-washed spinach
2 cups whole milk (I used 1%)
1 bay leaf
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and Pepper

Mushroom Filling
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup diced shallots
1 lb button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and Pepper

8 Manicotti tubes
1/4 lb (125g) Monforte Toscano or Italian Pecorino Toscano, 1 cup grated
1 tbsp shaved almonds

  1. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add minced garlic and saute another minute.  Add diced tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer over medium high heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until reduced to a thickened sauce that coats the back of a spoon.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Grease a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish and spread the tomato sauce over the bottom with a spoon.  Set aside.
  3. For Spinach bechamel, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat and add the spinach. Saute 3 to 4 minutes or until wilted and soft.  Cool and squeeze out excess liquid.  Roughly chop and set aside.
  4. Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until just bubbling.  Add bay leaf and set aside to infuse for 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaf.
  5. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly, and whisk until all lumps are gone.  Simmer until thickened and creamy and coats the back of a spoon, about 7 to 8 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in nutmeg, then spinach until combined.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and set aside.
  6. Make mushroom filling by melting butter in a large pan over medium high heat.  Add shallots and sweat for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes or until there is no more liquid draining from the mixture and it is moist but thickened.  Add lemon juice and season well with salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  7. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook manicotti until al dente, about 6 to 8 minutes or as per package directions.  Remove from water and set aside to drain.
  8. Preheat oven to 350F.
  9. To assemble the dish:  Using a small coffee spoon, stuff each manicotti about 3/4 full with the mushroom filling (if using the turkey slices place in the middle of slice and roll - now you have a meat manicotti).  Place in the casserole dish on top of tomato sauce, all in a row.  Blanket the manicotti with the spinach bechamel.  Sprinkle pasta with the grated Toscano cheese.  Top with the shaved almonds.
  10. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until edges are bubbling; remove from oven.  Adjust rack to top and raise oven temperature to 500F.  Put casserole back in oven for 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese and almonds turn golden (watch closely so it doesn't burn).
Serves 4 to 6

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Curried Meatball Bake with Hercule De Charlevoix Cheese

If you can't find this specialty cheese, just use your favourite, something a little milder and smoked works well to balance the curry.

250 g ground pork
150 g ground beef
1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp chopped coriander stems
1 green chili, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium red onion, finely sliced
 2 tbsp coriander stems, finely chopped
 2 green chilies, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp ginger, finely diced
 1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup dried cranberries, or dried cherries

500g rigatoni
210 g Hercule de Charlevoix or Gruyere (2 1/2 cups grated)

1 or 2 tbsp dried cranberries or dried cherries
1 bunch fresh coriander

  1. Combine all meatball ingredients (except oil) in a bowl using your hands until well mixed.  Form into small 1 inch balls; you should have approximately 25 meatballs.
  2. Heat oil in a wide, deep skillet over medium high heat.  Add meatballs in a single layer, and brown on all sides for about 5 to 6 minutes, turning as necessary, until just cooked through.  They will finish cooking in the oven.  Set aside on paper towel to drain.
  3. In the same skillet, drain excess fat, add the onions over medium heat and sweat until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add coriander stems, chilies, ginger, garlic, garam masala and lime juice and cook for about 2 minutes or until ginger is softened.  Add diced tomatoes and tomato paste, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to meld the flavours.  Add the maple syrup, soy sauce and dried cranberries and simmer 5 moreminutes or until flavours are well combined.  Set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 425F.
  5. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water for 8 to 9 minutes until al dente or as package directions.  Drain and return to pot.  Mix pasta and sauce and then stir in the meatballs.  Combine will and then add 1 cup grated cheese.
  6. Pour into greased 9 x 13 inch casserole dish and smooth down trying to ensure meatballs are spread evenly throughout.  Top with remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese.  Sprinkle with dried cranberries and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until top is crisp and cheese is bubbling.  Garnish each serving with a tangle of fresh coriander leaves.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Seared Veal Chops with Bourbon Cream Sauce

Ontario is one of the best sources for veal so take advantage of it!  Make sure your chops are nice and thick, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches, serve with fresh veggies from the farmers market.

4 veal rib chops, each 250g
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary, divided
1 tsp fresh thyme, divided
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1/2 cup minced shallots
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Arrange chops in single layer in large baking dish.  Drizzle with 2 tbsp of the olive oil.  Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.  Rub oil and seasonings into chops.  (Can be prepared 1 day ahead.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill.  Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before continuing.)
  3. In a large, heavy, ovenproof skillet, heat remaining oil over medium high heat.  Add chops; cook until chops are dark brown and seared, about 2 minutes per side.  Transfer pan to oven and bake until a meat thermometer registers 130F, about 10 to 15 minutes (will depend on thickness of the chops).  Transfer chops to plate and let rest without cutting into them, for 10 minutes.
  4. In same pan, add shallots and cook over medium-high heat until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute.  Add bourbon to skillet and cook until reduced to about 2 tsp, scraping up any browned bits, about 1 minute.  Add chicken broth and any accumulated veal juices; cook until reduced to about 2 tbsp about 1 minute.  Stir in cream and rosemary and cook just until sauce is slightly thickened.  Serve immediately with chops.
Serves 4

Friday, 24 August 2012

Individual Butterscotch Cakes with Hard Sauce

You can either make this as 8 small cakes or as one large cake by baking it in a 10 inch springform pan (add an additional 20 minutes to the baking time).

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp Scotch
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup ground pecans
1 cup plain yogurt

3 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 tbsp Scotch
1/2 tsp orange zest

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour 8 individual bundt pans (or a pan with 8 moulds); set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter with sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Add Scotch, beating until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pecans.  With a wooden spoon, stir into butter mixture alternately with yogurt, making 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of yogurt.
  4. Spread the batter into the prepared pans.  Bake in the centre of preheated oven until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Transfer to rack, let cool in pan on rack.  Loosen cakes from edges of pan.  Place rack over pan;; turn cakes out onto rack.  Lift off pan and let cool completely.
  5. To make sauce, in a microwaveable bowl, beat butter with confectioners sugar until fluffy.  Beat in Scotch and orange zest, microwave on high in 5 second intervals until pourable consistency is reached.  Pour over cakes.
Serves 8

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Whisky and Double Smoked Bacon

As a kid or even young adult you couldn't get me to eat Brussels Sprouts, but wow, how I love them now.  Here is a great recipe for them.

8 cups Brussels sprouts, about 1 kg
1/2 cup chopped double smoked bacon
2 tbsp Canadian Whisky
2 tsp maple syrup
1 pinch coarse salt
1 pinch fresh cracked pepper

  1. Trim ends off Brussels sprouts; cut an X in the base of each, halving any large sprouts.  Ina large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook sprouts until tender-crisp, about 7 minutes; drain in colander.  To make ahead: Chill in cold water; drain again and roll in towel.  Refrigerate for up to 1 day.  Increase cooking time in glaze, below to 5 minutes.
  2. In the same pan, cook bacon over medium high heat until cooked but not crisp, about 5 minutes.  Drain off all but 2 tbsp of the fat; add whisky and maple syrup and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Return sprouts to pan; cook, stirring until coated about 1 minute.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Serves 8 to 10

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Dark Chocolate Whiskey Cake

This is a decadent, rich chocolate cake with an intense flavour.  The recipe calls for Irish Whiskey but you could use any liqueur you prefer.  I think Amaretto, Kahlua, Drambuie or Frangelico would work very well here.  Drizzle the glaze over each piece on a plate before serving for an elegant presentation.

1/2 cup Irish whiskey
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (70% cocoa)
1 tbsp instant espresso powder dissolved in 1/3 cup hot water
1/3 cup toasted, ground walnuts
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, separated

2 oz dark chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp Irish whiskey
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter and flour an 8 inch springform pan.  Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, bring 1/2 cup whiskey to boil over medium high heat until it reduces in half, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to metal bowl and add chopped chocolate and espresso mixture.  Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes.  Remove bowl from on top of water and set aside.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together walnuts, flour and salt.  Set aside.
  4. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Fold in chocolate mixture.  Using clean, dry beaters, beat 3gg white in bowl, until stiff peaks form.  Fold one third of the whites into the batter with one third of the flour mixture in 3 additions.  Transfer batter to prepared pan, gently smoothing top with spatula.
  5. Bake in the centre of the oven until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  Cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes and then remove pan collar to cool completely.
  6. For icing, in a small bowl, combine chocolate and whiskey.  Place over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until smooth.  Add butter piece by piece, waiting until each piece is melted before adding the next.  Let thicken slightly and drizzle over cake.
Serves 12

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Scalloped Potatoes with Porcini and Bacon

These are amazing!  I couldn't find Porcini Mushrooms so just cooked regular ones.  I only have 1% milk in the house so I didn't use the 2% suggested, I also only used a 1/2 cup whipping cream and topped it up with milk to make 1 cup.

1 pkg (14g) dried porcini mushrooms, optional
6 strips bacon, thinly sliced (or more if you wish)
1 small onion, diced
 2 garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs (1kg) potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold
2 cups milk, 2% or homogenized
1 cup whipping cream
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 cup coarsely grated Gruyere cheese (try smoked for a different flavour)

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Butter a casserole that measures about 9 inches square.  Place mushrooms in a small bowl.  Cover mushrooms with about 1/2 cup boiling water.  Let stand while preparing ingredients.
  3. In a large frying pan (I prefer cast iron), cook bacon over medium heat until it starts to crisp, about 5 minutes.  Add onion and continue to cook until bacon is crisp and onion is tender, about 5 more minutes.  Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds just until fragrant (be careful not to burn it as it will get bitter if you do).  Strain mushrooms over a bowl but don't discard liquid.  Squeeze out any liquid from mushrooms into bowl.  Chop mushrooms and stir into bacon mixture.
  4. Peel potatoes and slice as thinly as possible, no thicker than 1/4 inch.  Place milk, cream and nutmeg in a large wide pan.  Gradually add mushroom liquid, so that any grit at bottom of bowl doesn't get added.  Over medium heat, bring to a simmer.  Add potatoes to simmering milk mixture.  Stir.  Cook just until almost fork tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, remove and spread about half the potatoes into prepared casserole.  Topp with half the bacon mixture.  Lightly season with salt and pepper.  Spoon remaining potatoes over top.  Repeat with bacon mixture and seasonings.  Carefully pour milk mixture over top, to evenly distribute.  Bake, covered 30 minutes.  Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and continue to bake until golden and bubbling, about 20 to 30 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Serves 8

Monday, 20 August 2012

Buttery Cinnamon Cake with Apple Compote

I really liked this recipe out of Food & Drink Autumn 2010.  It is simple, flavourful and versatile.  Switch the apples for your favourite fruit like peaches, bananas or pears for a change.  If using apples try a firm tart type for the best flavour.  This cake is best served warm.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon or ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

2 tbsp packed brown sugar
Pinch ground cinnamon
2 tbsp water

4 large red-skinned apples, diced (peeled if desired)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cardamom or ginger
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease the sides of a 9 inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.   Beat in egg and vanilla until blended.  Stir in flour mixture alternately with sour cream, making 3 additions of flour and  of sour cream.  Spread into prepared pan, smoothing top.
  3. Bake for about 45 minutes or until tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Let cool in pan on a rack for 30 minutes.  
  4. For the glaze, combine sugar, cinnamon and water in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Remove ring form cake.  Brush top and sides with glaze and serve warm or slide the cake off the pan onto a rack and let cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the apple compote.  Combine apples, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and lemon juice in a saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until apples are tender but still keep their shape.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Serve warm with slices of cake.
Serves 8

Sunday, 19 August 2012

African Style Chicken and Squash Curry

I have had mixed results with adding peanuts to African inspired dishes.  This one thankfully worked out.  You could switch the peanuts to almonds or cashews if you desire.  I used butternut squash here but the recipe also can be used for pumpkin (or any squash you prefer).

12 skinless bone in chicken thighs or 6 breasts
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cinnamon sticks, each about 3 inches long
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp whole cloves
2 large onions, chopped
2 tbsp minced ginger root
2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, finely chopped
1 large pie pumpkin or butternut squash peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks, about 6 cups
juice of 1 lime

  1. Trim any excess fat from chicken.  If using breasts, cut each in half crosswise to make pieces similar in size to thighs.  Set aside
  2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat until hot but not smoking.  Add cinnamon, mustard seeds and cloves and saute for 1 minute or until toasted and fragrant.  Add onions and saute for about 7 minutes until starting brown.  Add ginger, curry powder, thyme, hot pepper flakes and 1/2 tsp salt and saute for 2 minutes.  
  3. Add chicken and stir to coat with spices.  Add stock and 1/3 cup of the peanuts; bring to a simmer, scraping up bits stuck to pot.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes
  4. Stir in pumpkin, cover and simmer, stirring and turning chicken pieces occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced and pumpkin is tender.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and pumpkin to a warmed serving dish and keep warm, leaving about 10 pieces of pumpkin in the sauce.
  5. Increase heat to high and boil sauce, stirring often and mashing pumpkin to add body, for about 10 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Discard cloves and cinnamon sticks, if desired.  Stir in lime juice and season to taste with salt.  Pour sauce over chicken and pumpkin and sprinkle with remaining peanuts.
Serves 6

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Three Onion Soup

I love Onion Soup!  This is a lighter version.

2 tbsp butter or olive oil
3 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 red onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
Salt and coarsely ground pepper
1/4 cup brandy or dry red wine
4 cups beef, chicken or vegetable stock
3 cups water
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add leeks, red onion, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and saute for 2 minutes or until starting to soften.  Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring often, for about 45 minutes or until golden.
  2. Increase heat to high.  Add brandy and stir to scrape up any brown bits stuck to pan.  Cook until almost evaporated.  Stir in stock, water and bay leaves and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until reduced by about one quarter and flavour is rich.  Discard bay leaves.
  3. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste.  Ladle into warmed bowls and sprinkle with chives.
Serves 6

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Roasted Heirloom Carrots

This is a great time of year to get to your farmers market.  Try some different vegetables, this recipe is for heirloom carrots (they are wonderful because they come in a variety of colours) but also try it with a new squash, potato (some are purple) or whatever else looks fun.

2 bunches of small heirloom multi-coloured carrots, washed and peeled
3 tbsp olive oil
1 stick of cinnamon
3 cloves garlic, cut in half
1 sprig rosemary
2 fresh or dry bay leaves

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a small ovenproof baking dish combine carrots, olive oil, cinnamon, garlic, rosemary and bay leaves.  Place in the middle of the oven and roast until lightly carmelized, about 25 to 35 minutes, until tender.
  3. Remove cinnamon, garlic, rosemary and bay leaves.  Keep warm until needed.
Serves 4

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Fresh Corn Polenta with Ricotta

A great way to serve corn!  Of course on the cob is always great, but when you want something different, try this.  I left the corn whole, as I prefer the texture but if you prefer a smoother more traditional polenta puree the mixture after you add the milk and remove the herbs.  I grow basil in my garden and added that.

10 medium ears fresh corn
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp salted butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 fresh or dry bay leaves
1 sprig of rosemary
1 1/2 cups whole milk (I actually only have 1% in the house and that is what I used)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 heaping tbsp of fresh ricotta

  1. Husk corn and remove silk.  Remove the kernels using a sharp knife, making sure to remove all kernels and pulp by scraping the cob away from you with your knife.  Set aside.
  2. Place olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat; heat until bubbling.  Add onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, bay leaves and rosemary; cook, stirring about another 2 to 4 minutes.  Add corn and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in milk; season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and creamy, about 25 minutes; add more milk if mixture looks dry.  Remove the rosemary and bay leaves.  Fold in fresh ricotta and serve immediately.
Serves 4

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Gnocchi with Rapini, Pancetta and Tomatoes

A wonderful pasta with a comfort food feel.  The addition of Pancetta really makes this dish!

1 bunch rapini
2 0z (60g) thinly sliced pancetta
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp hot chili flakes
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
generous pinches of salt
1 pkg store bought potato gnocchi
grated Romano or Parmesan Cheese

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.  Meanwhile, trim and discard tough ends from rapini.  Add rapini to boiling water and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes.  Don't drain water.  Remove rapini using tongs and place in a sieve.  Press the rapini with the back of a large spoon to remove as much water as possible.  Coarsely chop.
  2. Thinly slice pancetta into matchstick, size pieces.  In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add pancetta and chili flakes.  Cook just until pancetta starts to crisp, about 3 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high and add tomatoes, green onions, garlic and salt.  Cook stirring, just until tomatoes begin to burst, about 3 minutes.  Add rapini to pan and stir.  Keep warm while cooking gnocchi.  
  3. If no longer boiling, bring rapini water to a boil.  Add gnocchi and cook according to package directions.  Remove about 1/4 cup water before draining and set aside.   Then drain gnocchi.  Add ingredients together.  If it sticks, stir in some reserved water.  Serve with grated cheese.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Texas Beef Tenderloin

a wonderful summer BBQ recipe

4 beef tenderloin medallions, each about 1 inch thick
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1/2 cup Marinade, Spicy Southwest flavour
1 tsp chili powder
2 cobs corn, husked
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 avocado, sliced

  • Sprinkle the medallions with salt and pepper.  Stir 1/3 cup of the marinade with the chili powder. Reserve 2 tbsp of this mixture.  Brush the remaining mixture over the steaks and marinate for at least 15 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
  • Preheat the grill to medium high and grease lightly.  Blanch the corn in boiling water for 3 minutes.  Brush with the reserved marinade-chili mixture.  Grill for 10 minutes, turning often, or until well marked.  Cool to room temperature.  Stand the cobs on their ends and cut the kernels from the cobs using a sharp knife.  Toss the corn with the remaining marinade, red onion, coriander and lime juice.
  • Grill the medallions for 5 to 7 minutes, turning once or until medium rare.  Fan the sliced avocado on four dinner plates.  Spoon over the corn relish and arrange the grilled steaks over top.  Makes 4 servings.

Maple Glazed Asparagus Bundles

Very fancy looking with minimal work!  Great with anything on the Barbecue!

1 large bunch asparagus, about 24 to 32 spears, trimmed
1/2 red pepper, sliced into long thin strips
8 slices trimmed, thinly sliced black forest ham or prosciutto about 125 g
1/3 cup Diana Sauce, maple flavour
2 tsp coarsely cracked mixed peppercorns
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp each lemon juice and melted butter

  1. Preheat the grill to medium high.  Blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water for 3 minutes.  Rinse under cold running water until cool.  Drain well and pat dry.
  2. Divide the asparagus into 8 bundles.  Add a few strips of the red pepper to each bundle.  Wrap the ham tightly around the base of the asparagus.  Secure each bundle firmly together with a toothpick.
  3. Stir the sauce with the lemon zest, juice and butter.  Brush half of the sauce over the bundles.  Sprinkle the ham or prosciutto evenly with cracked pepper.
  4. Grill the bundles for 2 minutes.  Turn and brush with remaining sauce.  Grill for 2 minutes, turning as needed, until the vegetables are marked ad the ham or prosciutto is crisp.  Remove the toothpicks before serving.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Mediterranean Potato Gratin with Olives and Lemon

A really different gratin with lots of flavour!  I used Gruyere cheese instead of the Comte cheese.

3 lbs (1.5 kg) thinly sliced red potatoes (unpeeled)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups sliced onions
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved and seeded
1 tsp herbes de Provence
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup coarsely chopped black olives
1 tsp grated lemon rind
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup Comte Cheese
1 tbsp butter

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Place potatoes in cold salted water and bring to a boil.  Boil for 5 minutes or until tender, and drain well.  Reserve.
  3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and saute for 2 minutes or until limp.  Add tomatoes, herbes de Provence and garlic and cook another 5 minutes.  Stir in chicken stock, olives and lemon rind and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 1 minute to combine flavours and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Oil a 9 inch ovenproof gratin dish.  Place one-third of potatoes on base, season with salt and pepper, cover with half of sauce, top with another one-third of potatoes, then remaining sauce and finish with remaining one-third potatoes.  Sprinkle top with cheese and dot with butter. Bake for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is slightly browned.
Serves 6 to 8