Feeds:
Posts
Comments

CHilledAppleSoup_First

Recently, I assisted on a motion shoot (defined as a video/film shoot) on location at someone’s very lovely home. These shoots can be challenging particularly when the kitchen is part of the set that they are shooting. In the past, I’ve had to prepare everything in advance and simply plate on location (on the floor, no less) but this was a much bigger production and we were provided a specially designed portable, professional kitchen! This portable kitchen was such a luxury because we were off on our own (no one bugging us) with 2 ovens, 1 upright freezer, 2 refrigerators a bakers rack and lots of counter space! And best of all, we had Air Conditioning because with two full-sized ovens running at 218° C (425° F), it can get pretty toasty inside!

This is an example of a prep area that is less than perfect!

This is an example of a prep area that is less than perfect because the kitchen was part of the set!

The story of this professional kitchen is rather interesting. The creator noticed that Food Stylists were usually provided less than satisfactory circumstances even though the food they were preparing was the hero of the shoot, so this guy took it upon himself to purchase a cube truck and convert it to a professional kitchen, he has two now and is as busy as ever! To be honest, we cannot thank him enough, it is such a luxury (compared to prepping on portable burners in the garage or on the lawn!)

These shoots take many people to run smoothly, there are the usual suspects: director, camera people, prop stylists, food stylist and all the support staff! It’s a pretty amazing thing to be a part of. We even had our own on-site caterers (called Craft Truck) who provided delicious food throughout the day; for example, shortly after 7am, there was a BLT sandwich, then a granola berry parfait, then smoked salmon on toast smeared with cream cheese and capers (that one, I couldn’t resist, the rest of the snacks, I passed on), followed by a hot lunch of grilled salmon, grilled whole chicken legs, pork tenderloin, several salads, steamed veg, potatoes, rice and beans and a variety of desserts, then around 5pm, snack sandwiches were passed around. We were definitely well fed! Coffee, juice and water were available all day long.

KitchenTruck

This is the exterior of our mobile professional kitchen. Fortunately, we were parked at the end of the driveway so we only had a short run to the set.


KitchenTruck_2


Our portable kitchen is ready for action. Sebastion was setting up the kitchen, complete with stand alone freezer, 2 glass door refrigerators, 2 full-sized ovens, 2 sinks, a bakers’ rack and A/C!


KitchenTruck_3

There were 3 food stylists for this shoot (one lead and two assistants). We were non-stop from 7am until after 5 all day!

The food on site was plentiful and we were never hungry or in need but this chilled soup would have been a lovely addition considering how sweltering hot it was that day. Let’s just say I had a lovely glow on all day, if you know what I mean!!!

This is a refreshing, chilled soup served on a hot, muggy day in the city and it’s very easy to prepare.

Chilled Apple, Cucumber and Coconut Soup

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 600 mL Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium shallot (about 30 g), finely chopped
  • 1 Granny Smith apple (about 175 g), cubed (reserve 1/4 for garnish, as pictured)
  • 2 stalks celery (about 60 g), roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (I used pea broth*)
  • 1/3 English cucumber (about 65 g), roughly chopped.
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk powder (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Sauté chopped shallots until translucent. Add celery, apple and vegetable stock, cook until softened (about 10 minutes), . Remove from heat and add the cucumber.
  2. Using an immersion blender, blend several minutes until smooth.
  3. Chill for several hours or make a day or two in advance.
  4. Serve cold and garnish with very thinly sliced apples. For other garnishes, please see notes.
Apple Soup

A tasty and refreshing soup that is only lightly sweetened with apple flavour.

Notes:

  • The pea broth was the result of the liquid used to blanch freshly shelled peas and then I cooked the shells again, then strained the broth through a fine sieve.
  • I chose not to strain this soup through a fine sieve because after I blended it for several minutes, I didn’t mind the final texture (some apple skin and cucumber skin, you can see how minute they are in the photos).
  • The cucumber adds a piquant note, omit if you are adverse to such flavours.
  • The apple flavour is very subtle but adds a lovely sweetness and tartness to the soup. I did not add sugar, but if you like a sweeter soup, consider using a sweet apple (like Gala) or adding coconut sugar in addition to the coconut milk powder.
  • Consider garnishing with some crispy cooked bacon.
  • This soup would be elevated if you garnished it with one large scallop caramelised in butter and drizzle with the scallop butter.

Apple Jelly

AppleJelly_First

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But I didn’t get lemons. I got apples. 907 g (2.2 lbs) to be exact!

I made JT an apple pie with two, and then made apply jelly with the remainder. I was at the cottage, so I had limited ingredients but apparently apples have a lot of natural pectin in the skin and core so I wasn’t worried. The trick is to cook the apples with skin, core and seeds until very soft and that coaxes the pectin out. I made a clear apple jelly, or as clear as one can get without using this nifty Mehu-Liisa.

Apple Jelly

Makes 236 mL (8 ounces)

Ingredients:

  • 900 g (2 lb) apples (I used Granny Smith and Gala), wash and cut into small cubes
  • 600 mL (20 fluid ounces) water
  • 300 g (1.5 cups) granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a non-reactive Dutch oven and stir well.
  2. On medium-high heat, bring to a boil, then simmer until apples are very soft.
  3. Strain through cheese cloth and then through a very fine sieve.
  4. Pour into a smaller pot and bring to a boil. Boil for about 20 minutes to at least 104° C (220° F) or when it begins to gel (test frequently on an ice-cold plate).
  5. Pour into sterilized mason jars (I used two 118 mL (4 ounce) jars and continue the canning process, or use immediately.
AppleJelly_2

I was surprised at how relatively clear the jelly was.

Notes:

  • Save the soft apples (not the core or seeds) and purée until entirely emulsified, push through a fine sieve for a delicious apple sauce. Freeze in a zip lock bag if not using right away. Makes about 125 mL (1/2 cup) applesauce.
AppleJellyCalories

Apple Jelly serving is based on 10 mL (2 tsp) serving size.

WW Points

CheeseBall_First

My parents entertained a lot, it’s probably where I get my love for entertaining (read, feeding) friends and family. Mom would make canapés (tiny little sandwiches) and often have a cheese plate for nibblies. Mom’s canapé repertoire was whatever we had on hand, sometimes leftover roast beef, hard boiled egg or even some pickled herring with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of fresh dill.

Although this post is about a cheese ball, my dear Mom did not make cheese balls for entertaining purposes, they were for late night snacks*! Mom’s cheese mixtures usually consisted of whatever cheese was left over, grated and mixed together with butter (or margarine, in those days). Each cheese mixture was different because she never had the same proportions of cheese leftover.

I believe, I was the first to make an actual cheese ball in my family, the recipe was likely from a one of my beloved Recipes Only Magazines, a quarterly food magazine that premiered in April 1983. It was delivered free to 2,000,o00 Canadian homes in predetermined areas. The inaugural magazine touted “To celebrate the joys of Food and Cooking…Our goal at Recipes Only will be simply to bring you excellence; excellence of recipes based on the plentiful ingredients from Canadian stores and gardens; excellence of presentation based on the best photographs and illustrations our award-winning team…can design…” Well, they did their best considering the timeframe. Dark, moody photos with some but not many relevant props, not like the odd 70’s food photos with weird fabrics (or were they all shower curtains?) thrown in! I’m certain my first cheese ball came from one of the Recipe Only Magazines but I no longer have them all so I cannot be sure (makes for a good story, though).

RecipesOnly

Sadly, I have only saved up to and including Issue 7, November/December 1984,  I also saved Issue 11, from 1985 (which has the index for the first 10 issues) and for some bizarre reason, Issue 24 from October 1987 (by which time, they were charging $1.00 for them). I even saved labels from Bick’s Pickles to send away for a tidy binder to hold my cherished Recipes Only Magazines.

 

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the more contemporary Potted Cheese at the beautiful Harbour House Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake (we often go down during the Christmas Holidays) during a sampling of Local Vintages from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm each day in the Library Lobby. My cheese ball is not nearly as highbrow as the Potted Cheese but it is very tasty. I would encourage you to create your own with your own blend of cheese, it’s a perfect accompaniment to cocktails on the dock on a lazy summer’s day.

CheeseBall_2

I served the cheese ball with home made toasted sourdough baguette, Mary’s Crackers, cucumbers and celery sticks.

A Tasty Cheese Ball

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 2 8-10 cm (3-4 inch) Cheese Ball

Ingredients:

  • 250 g Cream Cheese
  • 55 g Danish Blue Cheese
  • 50 g Gruyère Cheese
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 100 g of chopped, toasted nuts, cooled (I used 50 g each of pecans and cashews because it’s what I had on hand).

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients with the exception of the nuts, in the bowl of a food processor, process until smooth.
  2. Scrape out all of the cheese mixture and divide into two balls. Roll in the nuts to cover completely. Refrigerate or freeze until required.
  3. It’s best to allow the cheese ball to come to room temperature before serving.
CheeseBall_3

*Back in the 1970’s and early 80’s, we would often have a small snack of cheese, bread or popcorn while watching TV. We called it our “Late Night Snack”.

StrawberryBlueberryGalette

A  few weeks back, I assisted a fellow food stylist for a well-known retailer on their magazine’s Christmas edition. I had to track down two FRESH 10-12 lb turkeys in July! Can you imagine? Not many butchers carry fresh turkeys at the beginning of July but I was lucky because one in particular supplies many food stylists in Toronto and I was able to get the two 11 lb birds on short notice! Note to self, this butcher ROCKS! The quality is exceptional and when I asked for 10-12 lb turkeys, he gave me 11 lb not 14 lb like my butcher does!

OntarioStrawberries

Ontario Strawberries are generally small, sweet, little heart-shaped berries.

During this shoot, we made pies and while the pies we made were beautiful, the stylist mentioned she would make a galette for the crew using the leftover fruit, so galette stuck in my head. Fast forward to the Sunday, JT and I were driving up to the cottage (he had a councillor meeting first thing on Monday morning) and I was able to purchase fresh, Ontario Strawberries from a road-side farm vendor (I think the kids were selling them!), the strawberries were picked that very morning. Ontario strawberries are usually the small, heart-shaped berries that taste like strawberries, totally unlike the gargantuan berries we usually have all year round from California (sorry guys, but California must send us the most tasteless, most gigantic strawberries ever and keep all the good stuff for themselves!) I put this quick galette together using my brand new cottage immersion blender, with the mini food processor attachment. I adore the rustic look of a galette, perfect for the cottage!

StrawberryBlueberryGalette3

Ontario Strawberry and Blueberry Galette

The original recipe for the pastry is from Dori Greenspan’s beautiful book, Baking with Julia, but you can find the recipe on-line, here, here and here to name a few!

Makes 1 galette about 20 cm or 10 inches in diameter

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tbsp ice-cold water
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp AP unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 egg yolk with a splash of water
  • 2 cups small strawberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 3 tbsp AP unbleached flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar, plus more for dusting the pastry

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, sugar, salt and butter in the bowl of a small food processor. Pulse quickly until the butter is totally incorporated and the dough resembles a coarse meal. Pour all of the water in at once and process again until the dough, more or less, comes together. Pour out the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and working quickly, press the dough into a single disk. Cover with the wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or in the freezer for 15 minutes, like I did.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (176 °C) (I have convection (fan) at the cottage).
  3. Wash and dry strawberries and blueberries. Toss with the 3 tbsp flour and  2 tbsp sugar until well coated. Set into the refrigerator while you work on the pastry.
  4. Roll out the pastry dough into a 30 cm or 12 inch round. Pile the berries into the centre and fold up the edges, pinching to contain the excess pastry. Brush the pastry with the egg yolk (and a splash of water) and sprinkle with additional sugar (sanding sugar would have been great, but I was at the cottage so I didn’t have any).
  5. Bake on a piece of parchment for 20-30 minutes (I have a small convection oven, so it baked very quickly). Serve warm with basil ice yogurt (see notes below).

StrawberryBlueberryGalette2

StrawberryBlueberryGalette4

StrawberryBlueberryGalette5

Notes:

  • JT said that my fruit to pastry ratio was off, so I adjusted the above recipe and doubled the fruit.
  • Basil Ice Yogurt is simple to make: combine 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup honey (or to taste), chiffonade of 8-10 basil leaves and mix well. Freeze for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t freeze solid.
  • Basil and strawberries are a lovely combo.

WholeWheatFajitaShells_first

Happy Civic Holiday to my Ontario readers! It’s the second last long weekend of the summer! I can’t believe summer is almost over! I don’t even want to think of The Ex (Canadian National Exhibition). So let’s not!

How many times have you heard or experienced: Necessity is the Mother of Invention? Some of my best cooking experiences come from exactly that expression, either I’ve forgotten to purchase something or what I was counting on was no longer viable. Case in point: we were at the Upper Deck a couple of weeks back and I had intended on making Waldorf Tuna Wraps for our car lunch for the way home but the fajita shells were old and too dry to make a decent wrap that wouldn’t fall apart, so I decided to make some fajita shells from scratch! They worked out so well, JT proclaimed he liked them better because they had flavour and did not feel dry and crumbly when he bit into it, in fact, they reminded me of a very thin Naan because they are slightly chewy. My wraps held together perfectly. So one afternoon in the city, I decided to experiment and create a recipe that was blog worthy and this post was developed.

I had no idea making these fajita shells was so easy, 4 ingredients, mixed together and knead a little, rest a little (both the dough and the cook), roll out, cook on stove-top in a skillet and they are done! See? So damn simple. I doubt I’ll buy ready made fajita shells ever again. This recipe makes 7 wraps that are about 25 cm or 10 inches in diameter, if you make smaller ones you’ll get more of them! I was being lazy and didn’t want to have to wash a whole bunch of measuring tools so I simply put my bowl on my scale, tared it to zero and kept adding ingredients, each time, tarring to measure from zero. One bowl makes it even easier.

FajitaShells

Easy Whole Wheat Fajita Shells

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

This recipe makes 7 shells that are about 25 cm or 10 inches in diameter

Ingredients:

  • 275 g (scant 2 cups) AP unbleached white flour
  • 75 g (2/3 cup) whole wheat flour
  • 20 g (2 tbsp) EVOO
  • 5 g (3/4 tsp) sea salt
  • ~200-220 g (2/3-1 cup) water
  • non-stick cooking spray or a light vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Measure all of the ingredients into the large bowl of your stand mixer. Insert dough hook and slowly knead the ingredients together until a smooth ball forms (I made this dough while it was rather humid so you may need to adjust the water). Set aside for 10 minutes and allow to rest.
  2. Divide the dough into 7 equal portions (about 83 g each). Dust your work surface with a little flour, and roll out each ball into a 25 cm or 10-inch circle. It’s best not to stack them because they will stick together.
  3. Heat to medium, a cast iron skillet that is at least 10 inches in diameter. Spray or oil the skillet lightly. Cook each fajita shell about 2 to 2.5 minutes each side or until slightly browned.
  4. Allow the shells to cool ever so slightly and bag them immediately with parchment separators in a zip-lock bag, use as needed. These will stay fresh for 4 days but they have no preservatives so if you are not using them right away, store parchment separated shells in the freezer. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight to use. If they have hardened, heat very gently prior to use to make them more supple.
  5. You won’t regret this.

Notes:

  • I cooked my fajitas on a well-seasoned cast iron crêpe pan, you may use a non-stick pan or a large skillet.
  • Purée spinach or basil with some water and use it instead of just plain water.
  • Use tomato juice instead of plain water.
  • Flavour with herbs or spices for a change.
  • I updated the ingredients with imperial volume measures August 3.
GreekWrap2

The shells have excellent texture, unlike that sticky white-bread quality the store-bought kind have. The Greek-Style chicken with goats cheese and black olives were absolutely delicious and they did not fall apart or get too soggy even after having been made in the morning for a later lunch.

FajitaShellsCalories

Based on 7 Servings but I would make them smaller next time.

FajitaShellsWW

Based on 7 servings. Make 10 servings out of this recipe to have more manageable points.

Gazpacho Revisited

Gazpacho_First

Recently, my long-time blogger friend Liz, of That Skinny Chick Can Bake posted a delightful Gazpacho recipe which made me immediately crave this summer sensation! Liz’s recipe took her back to her childhood when her dear Mom recreated the recipe on a summer car vacation to Aspen after having it at a favourite restaurant. My recipe isn’t quite as romantic, in fact, it has no history nor does it conjure up childhood memories because cold soup in a Hungarian household is Sour Cherry Soup, a delicious soup made from European Sour Cherries in a lightly sweetened syrup, yogurt and cinnamon — it is delicious but it does not come anywhere near the complex flavours a Gazpacho has. Each vegetable contributes a certain aspect and my proportions are intentional. Some gazpachos are onion heavy so I used a very small French shallot, and I didn’t use garlic this time, I wanted a mellow flavoured soup with depth. Liz chose tomato juice or V-8 which adds a lot of flavour, I went with plain ordinary vine-rippened tomatoes and water — you could use a veg stock instead. I like a smooth soup so I press it through a fine sieve several times, I find the tomato seeds and the red pepper skin adds a little too much texture, and I do blend for several minutes a few times to get as much out of the pulp as possible. I loved Liz’s crouton garnish, because it adds such texture and interest but we’re going light this week and omitted it. Thank you Liz, your inspiration was perfect timing as we’ve been having 35° C (95° F) with high humidity.

To see more chilled soups that I created in the past, please click below:

Gazpacho

A full flavoured soup, perfect for hot and muggy summer days.

Gazpacho

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 1.5 L strained soup (about 4 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 300 g Red Pepper (Capsicum)
  • 125 g celery
  • 140 g zucchini
  • 100 g radish
  • 120 g cucumber
  • 15 g shallot
  • 25 g avocado
  • 430 g vine ripened tomatoes
  • 500 mL water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • mint
  • basil
  • parsley

Corn Salsa

  • 40 g sweet corn
  • 40 g cucumber, finely cubed
  • 40 g celery, finely cubed
  • 5 g cilantro, chiffonade
  • zest of one fresh lime
  • splash of lime juice
  • sea salt

Directions:

  1. Chop everything roughly and add to a large 4 L bowl. Blend with a stick blender (immersion blender) until smooth.
  2. Press through a fine sieve and blend the remaining pulp with about 500 mL of the strained soup, press through a fine sieve again. I usually repeat twice to get the most out of the pulp. Discard pulp (or compost) and refrigerate strained soup for a couple of hours.
  3. Combine sweet corn, cucumber, cilantro, lime juice and salt, stir well. Top each bowl with 1 tbsp of the salsa just prior to serving.

Note:

  • I used about 2 large mint leaves, 20 basil leaves and 4 parsley sprigs.
  • Avocado would be an excellent addition to the salsa garnish.

GazpachoWW

Based on 4 servings without the garnish.

GazpachoCalories

Based on 4 servings without the garnish.

AdultGrilledCheese_First

Cooking at the cottage means simple recipes using fresh ingredients. I don’t want to be in the kitchen any longer than I have to. Don’t get me wrong, I adore cooking but I also adore this view:

CottageView

This is the view looking out into the lake from our little bay.

Several years ago, our dear friend Barb (Profiteroles and Pony Tails) and her then beau (now hubby) came up to our cottage, The Upper Deck. We traded off days for cooking and for one lunch Barb made this excellent grilled cheese sandwich (Toastie)! We’re not talking about a processed cheese slice slapped between two slices of Mungie-cake white bread. No, this is a serious blend of cheeses with a splash of whiskey or cognac and some delicious green onion thrown in for good measure. Believe me, when I say: once you have this grilled cheese, you will NEVER want any other.

I posted this recipe originally in March 2009 and it was a bit of a sore spot because a named magazine asked to use my photo in a grilled cheese story but since I was relatively new to blogging, I wasn’t paying attention to the comments, so I missed out! Sigh. The flavour of the whiskey or cognac is essential, the cheese blend is entirely up to you, but I suggest hard cheese and not soft like goats cheese.

Adult Grilled Cheese

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 125-150 g shredded cheese, in total
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 slices sourdough bread, use this recipe
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp cognac or whiskey

Directions:

  1. Combine shredded cheeses, green onion and cognac and mix well.
  2. Butter one side of each bread, lay one slice buttered side down and top with the cheese mixture. Lay the other side of the bread on top, buttered side up.
  3. Heat a grill pan and place sandwich on top, lay a weight over it (I used 3 cast iron pans but I put a piece of parchment on top of the sandwich first).
  4. Grill until cheese has melted. Cut sandwich in half and serve with celery sticks and homemade salsa.

Notes:

  • For this sandwich, we used Applewood Smoked Cheddar, Extra Old Cheddar and Mozzarella.
  • We have also used Mozzarella, Gruyère and white Cheddar, the combinations are endless. It is nice to use a stringy cheese for this type of sandwich.
  • You could also put additional cheese on the exterior (omit butter) and instead of grill, lay a piece of parchment down in a cast iron frying pan and cook, repeat for other side. See instructions from my dear friend Lorraine, here.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 527 other followers

%d bloggers like this: