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Archive for September, 2008

Cooked on a stone

While in France, our first night in Meyreuil we ate at a lovely family owned restaurant. Paul, T and JT all had salmon cooked on river rock, each one presented beautifully on the boiling hot rock at the table (I had the traditional blood sausage, sounds gross but was delicious). JT and I have been talking about the hot stone presentation ever since.

We were at the cottage this weekend, and walked quite a bit on our road. We made it a point to try to find beautiful flatish stones for our rendition. I heated the stones in the oven for about 2 hours on 500F and then removed them to the counter (be very careful, granite will crack with such heat, the only thing that will support the heat is soap stone!). We seared some scallops marinated in soy and molasses (two to one, less molasses than soy) and then used the same marinade (I reserved some) for the salmon. Very simple and tastey! Sear the scallops about 2 minutes on each side (the stone is so hot, it sizzles!)

I reheated the stone and then we did the salmon, which took a bit longer but well worth it! The steaks will depend on how thick they are for cooking time, a quick finger test in the centre will tell if it’s done!

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Every year, I have mixed feelings about fall; I love the fall colours, I get excited about winter coming, but get really sad about having to put socks and shoes on! It all boils down to claustrophobic feet! There I said it.

We closed the cottage this weekend. The weather was quite lovely (about 24C yesterday). We were even able to sit on the porch for cocktails! And, we enjoyed a splendid display of light during a thunderstorm on Saturday night!

JT created the menu, and it was wonderful!

Friday – cocktails at arrival (11pm-ish) with my home-made flat breads and a couple of dips – and of course, martinis!

Saturday

Breakfast – make ahead panettone french toast with wild blueberries and maple syrup, grapefruit and coffee

Make ahead Panettone French Toast (a healthier adaptation of a recipe I tried at All Recipes)

  • Slice Panettone in about 2″ thick slices (I generally buy these on sale and slice and freeze  with parchment between each slice – that way, I have it ready when-ever!). One slice is enough for 2 people.
  • 2 large eggs, plus 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (or vanilla)
  1. On the night before, blend eggs, yogurt and maple syrup in a blender.
  2. Spray Pam (or similar) into an 8″ round cake pan and place panettone in the centre. Pour egg mixture all over the panettone and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  3. The next morning, pre heat oven to 350F. Bake French toast for 20-30 minutes (ovens will vary, but you want a golden colour on the French toast). The eggs will puff up like a soufflé!
  4. When done, remove from pan, cut into 2 portions and serve with your favorite maple syrup and fruit!

Lunch – Creamed roasted butternut squash soup with home-made walnut bread (Anna and Michael Olsen’s Walnut Bread recipe – I’ll post this soon)

Eva’s Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (Check out my recipe on Foodista)

  • 1 medium Butternut squash (peeled and cut into even sized cubes)
  • 1 medium sweet onion (like vidalia), chopped into quarters.
  • 1 entire garlic, skin on
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 2-4 cups of your favorite stock (I used miso for this one!)
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a large roasting pan, mix the butternut squash and the onion, drizzle with olive oil and sea salt.
  3. Take about 12 inches of parchment paper and place garlic in centre. Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Wrap tightly, and then wrap parchment in foil (I don’t like putting foil directly on food, but it’s up to you!). Place this package beside the roasting pan in the oven.
  4. Bake for about 45 minutes or until squash is tender and garlic is mushy.
  5. Add the squash and onion (and all the pan juices) to a glass blender and blend adding stock to desired consistency. Squeeze out garlic and add (with all the olive oil from the little package) into the squash purée and continue to blend until smooth.
  6. Pour through a fine sieve to make it creamy smooth.
  7. Enjoy (no cream in this soup, but you would never know it!.

Dinner – Cassoulet (yep, JT made cassoulet!), Madeleines with wild blueberry yogurt sauce!

We rendered the duck until the skin was crispy, and put it into the cassoulet whole – lots of flavour!

  • 1/2 pound pork sausage links, sliced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons whole cloves (I found this a little too clovey, next time we’ll cut this down considerably!)
  • 1/2 whole onion, peeled
  • 1-1/2 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1/2 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/4 pound bacon (too much bacon, if you are adding the skin with the duck)
  • 1/2 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 pound dry navy beans, soaked overnight (we used traditional white beans instead)
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1-1/2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1-1/2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound skinned, boned duck breast halves
  • 1/2 fresh tomato, chopped

This is a photo of the raw ingredients without the beans!

  1. In a large skillet, brown the sliced sausage over medium heat.
  2. Insert whole cloves into onion. Roll bacon up, and tie with a string. Tie together parsley, thyme, and rosemary.
  3. In a large slow cooker, place soaked beans, sausage, bacon, onion studded with cloves, fresh herbs, bay leaf, carrots, minced garlic, and duck. Add enough water to cover the other ingredients. Cook for 1 hour on HIGH. Reduce heat to LOW, and continue cooking for 6 to 8 hours. (The duck will cook and break into smaller bits – kind of like pulled pork!)
  4. Remove onion, bacon, and herbs. Stir in chopped tomatoes. Continue cooking for 1/2 hour. Serve with crusty French stick or walnut bread!

Madeleines with Wild Blueberries and Yogurt sauce (I had to have one healthier thing this weekend!)

Sunday Breakfast JT muffins – whole grain english muffins with a fried egg, pancetta and french goat’s milk feta cheese…YUM!

Closing up is always a lot of work but we managed to get it all done by our 10am goal, and we were on the road again!

Only a few trees have been bitten by the chill and have started to ripen into bursts of red in a sea of green! Soon the evening chill will take them into a long slumber until the spring when we travel this road again!

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JT made pizza for dinner last night. YUM. Wish I had taken a photo because it was a feast for the eyes, as well as the belly!!! He used one of my home made pizza doughs (I’ll draft the recipe for that when I make the next round, as I usually eyeball it!) and topped it with goats cheese infused with garlic, thickly cut grilled chicken, grilled red pepper, thickly cut home grown tomatoes (neighbour’s) a few little dallops of hot salsa, and my grated mix of cheeses (from freezer). WOW. The tomatoes really exploded in your mouth…flavour flavour flavour (yep, we Canucks add the “u” in flavour and neighbour, get used to it).

We generally roll the dough to about 1/8″ thickness so it’s really thin and crispy when baked (my dough is mostly whole wheat and rough grains because I like it that way). Also, we use a cast iron pizza pan, which we always preheat to 450F in our small oven (really the best oven for the price). Put the dough on the hot pan and bake at 450F until the underside is lightly browned (you may wish to lightly oil the pan so it doesn’t stick, or use corn meal like the real pizza folk!). Flip dough and top with all toppings, returning to oven for the remainder of the cooking time. You really only need to heat things up and melt the cheese as everything on this baby is already cooked! Wow, that garlic infused goat’s cheese really comes through. YUM!

JT made this one a few days ago and I had the where-with-all to take a photo. This dough is a bit thicker – he even made the dough himself (adaptation from Epicurious)

Basic Pizza Dough

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm water (105° to 115° F)
  • 1 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • olive oil for the bowl

Preparation

  1. Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Let stand 1 minute, or until the yeast is creamy. Stir until the yeast dissolves.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the 2 cups flour and the salt. Add the yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
  3. Lightly coat a large bowl with oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to oil the top. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free place and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Flatten the dough with your fist. Cut the dough into 2 pieces and shape the pieces into balls. Flatten the dough slightly. Dust the tops with flour. Place the balls of dough on a floured surface and cover each with plastic wrap, allowing room for the dough to expand. Let rise 60 minutes, or until doubled.

The photo is of an asparagus (blanched), red pepper and prosciutto pizza (with the garlic infused goats cheese as the base)

jts-pizza

Garlic infused Goat’s Cheese

  • 3-4 oz plain goat’s cheese at room temperature (use as much as you need, not really important for measurements)
  • 1 small clove garlic (or to taste) grated finely using a micro plane grater
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil (or use enough for consistency required)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (use white pepper for looks and taste)
  1. Mix all ingredients well drizzling in olive oil until desired consistency is achieved.
  2. Use this mix as pizza base (instead of tomato sauce), as a dip, in sandwiches, what ever your heart desires.
  3. Enjoy!

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Ukrainian Festival, Bloor West Village and Polish Festival in Roncessvalles Village, Toronto

This was another festival-filled weekend and we did both! Very humid with rain threatening both days, we managed to avoid and had a nice time at both! In honour of the festivals, I made some perogies for hors d’oeuvres last night. Not so traditional, but definitely inspired by.

Goat’s Cheese-filled perogies

Using a traditional Gnocchi recipe for the dough, make whatever filling you desire, boil pierogies until cooked and cool. Freeze any unused portions on a cookie sheet for future hors d’oeuvres.

Goat’s Cheese Filling

  • 1/2 cup goat’s cheese at room temperature
  • 1 small clove garlic pressed through a micro plane (or very finely minced)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-4 medium basil leaves finely sliced (chiffonade)
  1. In a small food processor, or simply with a fork, mix all ingredients but the basil until well combined.
  2. Add basil and toss lightly. Set aside in refrigerator.

Pierogi Dough (makes about 24 perogies 3″ in diameter)

I ran out of flour! Can you believe it? So i had to improvise with my pierogi dough. These measures are just estimates, you’ll have to eyeball the texture or make a tried and true potato gnocchi recipe.

  • 1/2 rice flour
  • 1/2 cup potato flour
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour for dusting
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 feet of parchment paper (use parchment on your counter for rolling, the rice and potato flours are glue – you will thank me later!)
  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients with the exception of the water and pulse until you get a ball of dough, adding the water a little at a time. If the dough is too wet, add all-purpose flour to achieve the ball.
  2. Dust the parchment with a generous amount of all-purpose flour, roll dough to about 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Cut with a 2-3 inch round cookie cutter (for hors d’oeuvres, use smaller cutters).
  4. Put a small amount of the goat’s cheese mixture into the centre. Dot edges with a very small amount of water and pinch to seal (you may not even need water).
  5. Continue until all of the dough is used up (if you run out of goat’s cheese filling, use a thick European jam as dessert pirogies (just make sure you know which is which, once sealed, you will have to bit into it to see!).
  6. Boil well salted water. Once on a good hard boil, add the pierogies one at a time, only enough to fill the bottom of the pan. The perogies will rise to the top when done. Remove with a strainer and allow excess water to drip off.

Finishing and Serving Pierogies

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 pirogies
  1. Melt butter with olive oil in a cast enamel pan.
  2. Add pirogies and brown both sides.
  3. Remove from pan and drain off oil.
  4. Serve with 2-3 tbsp sour cream or yogurt cheese (strained yogurt).
  5. Enjoy!

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My good friend Pam, kindly invited me to TIFF 2008 again – a bit of a brush with fame this time (last year we saw James McAvoy and Keira Knightley – this film had the director and an actor playing a secondary role) but it was an interesting movie (Empty Nest) and we had a great time.

After the movie we headed down to Dundas Square…WOW, Toronto really beefed this area up (I haven’t been down in a month or so). It’s absolutely lovely! They set up an outdoor theatre for TIFF and screen movies for free at night! They also set up a cute little photo booth where Pam and I horsed around a bit!

Pam and Eva at Dundas Square Photo Booth

Pam and Eva at Dundas Square Photo Booth

We then walked down to Pravda Vodka Bar for dinner (it was OK – I will review on tripadvisor). 3 martini’s 2 vodka rocks and a mediocre beef tartar and salmon and tuna grave lox (appi portions) was over $120!!! And I had to grab a snack when I got home! I should mention that JT came down for a drink with us – I didn’t consume 3 martini’s on my own, although I should have!!!!

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adapted from Epicurious.com

This is one of the tastiest salmon recipes I have done so far, and each time is a HUGE success! I generally buy a large salmon fillet and serve it family style, because it is so beautiful, but you can do individual portions or steaks. You will want to marinate the salmon in the brine overnight or at least 4 hours to get the full effect.

  • 1 quart water
  • 1 cup (packed) brown sugar – I use dark maple syrup
  • 1 cup sugar – I omit this
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 2lb salmon fillet
  • 3 cups (or more) alder-wood smoke chips, soaked in water 30 minutes, drained (I used mesquite)

Preparation

  1. Stir first 4 ingredients in large bowl until sugars dissolve. Add salmon (skin side up), to brine, pressing to submerge. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove salmon from brine; discard brine. Rinse salmon under cold water. Place salmon, skin side down, on rack. Let stand until top is dry to touch (do not pat dry), about 1 hour. Prepare barbecue (medium-low heat). Using 2 layers of foil, make 12 x 10-inch foil rectangle with 1-inch-high sides. Place 3 cups smoke chips on foil rectangle. Set atop coals 5 minutes before grilling salmon allow to begin smoking. Make sure the heat is turned OFF below the salmon, you want indirect heat from the smoke to cook it. Position barbecue rack at least 6 inches above briquettes. Position vents on barbecue so that chips smoke and briquettes burn but do not flame.
  2. Smoke until salmon is firm to touch and glaze forms over salmon, adding more smoke chips to barbecue if necessary, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on heat of grill.
  3. Transfer salmon to platter; serve warm or at room temperature. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
  4. Serve with a Chipotle Aoili or Pear Chutney (recipe below)

Pear Chutney (my recipe)

Our neighbours across the street, Tom & (still to meet the wife) brought over some lovely home grown pears. They were ripe and ready to be enjoyed, way too much for us, so I made a chutney to go with the smoked salmon…d e l i c i o u s!

  • 1 medium sized bosc pear
  • 1 cup white or red wine, 1 cup water
  • 1 star anise
  • 5 cloves
  • 1/4 vidalia onion chopped into small uniform pieces (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut the pear lengthwise and core (no need to peel).
  2. In a small sauce pan immerse the pear cut side down in the wine and water combo, poach until semi soft (about 10 minutes but it really depends on how ripe your pear is).
  3. Remove pears from liquid and reserve both.
  4. In a small enamel pan (this is important so the vinegar doesn’t react with the pan), add oil and sauté the onions 2 minutes. Add the balsamic and cook until the balsamic is reduced to half.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Chop the poached pear into small uniform cubes. Add to the balsamic mixture. If the balsamic reduced too much and is too thick and syrupy, in small amounts add the reserved poaching mixture and stir gently not to mash the pear.
  7. Season to taste.
  8. Serve hot or cold.

Smoked Paprika Aioli (adapted from Epicurious.com)

  • 2 garlic cloves (minced finely on a microplane)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  1. Mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt using a large heavy knife.
  2. Using an immersion blender, blend together yolk, lemon juice, and smoked paprika in the immersion blenders’ cup.
  3. Combine oils and add, a few drops at a time, to yolk mixture, blending constantly, until all oil is incorporated and mixture is emulsified. (If mixture separates, stop adding oil and continue blending until mixture comes together, then resume adding oil.)
  4. Blend in garlic paste and season with salt and pepper. If aïoli is too thick, whisk in 1 or 2 drops of water. Chill, covered, until ready to use.

Cooks’ notes:
• The egg yolk in this recipe is not cooked, which may be of concern if there is a problem with salmonella in your area.
Aïoli can be chilled up to 2 days.

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“No car Saturdays” – to try to be more environmentally conscious, we have made a consorted effort to not drive on one day of the weekend. This gets us out on our bikes or on the subway and it allows us to make an effort to consolidate our driving day errands! Yesterday was Saturday!

We rode out to Taste of the Kingsway from noon to 2pm and then around 3pm we rode up to The Junction Arts Festival. The Taste was a bit of a downer, but the Junction festival was fun. Lots to see and do. We went back at 9:30 to see David Usher perform a free concert (well, we didn’t actually see him, but it was cool!)

Since JT’s been off, he has been doing all of the cooking during the week. He really is coming into his own, and I simply cannot complain, it’s just that I miss doing it. So, on the weekends, I do my share.

Saturday I made us Chimichurri Shrimp as an hors d’oeuvres and Mushroom Barley Risotto with Chicken au herbs en provence.

BBQ’d Chimichurri Shrimp

Chimichurri Sauce (adapted from Epicurious.com)

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots (about 2 medium)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 drops of Mesquite smoke (this is strong stuff, use very sparingly)
  • about 12 shrimp (6 per person)

Preparation

  1. Peel and clean shrimp.
  2. Stir together all ingredients in a bowl, coating shrimp evenly.
  3. Heat BBQ to ~450F.
  4. Using a lightly oiled BBQ wok, grill shrimp for about 1 minute on each side (this will entirely depend on how large your shrimp are – mine were 31-40 per pound)
  5. Serve hot with Grey Goose Martinis
  6. Cheers!
Mushroom Barley Risotto
Normally I prefer to use fresh ingredients, bar none, but for this dish the dried assorted forest mushrooms are really the very best. Butter and cognac are amazing companions to mushrooms, and really enhance the flavour layers of this dish. Serve as is or add a grilled chicken breast.
  • 1 cup dried forest mushrooms
  • 1 tsp light soy bean paste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 vidallia onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2-1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp cognac or brandy
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. In about 4 cups of hot water hydrate mushrooms (do this first thing in the morning and let the mushrooms sit all day). Clean mushrooms well, and strain sand out of liquid and reserve.
  2. Make a paste of the cognac and unsalted butter. Reserve in refrigerator.
  3. Reheat reserved mushroom stock and add soy bean paste. Stir well.
  4. Sweat the onions in about 1 tbsp olive oil. When translucent add barley and toast until you can smell the nuttiness. Add garlic.
  5. Just as you would make risotto, add the reserved mushroom stock about 1 cup at a time, stirring barley well, simmering. Barley will take 45 minutes to 1 hour to properly cook.
  6. At about 1/2 hour, add the mushrooms into the barley risotto.
  7. Keep adding liquid until the barley is done to taste.
  8. Take off heat. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir well.
  9. Season with salt and pepper, being careful as the Parmesan is salty as is the soy bean paste.
  10. Add the cognac paste and stir.
  11. Serve immediately.
Chicken Breast au Herbs en Provence
  • 2 chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced well
  • 1/4 cup herbs en Provence
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Dry chicken breast well. Rub with olive oil.
  2. In a mortle and pestil, make a semi dry rub of the herbs en Provence and the garlic. Season.
  3. Rub well onto chicken, particularly the skin side (I like a crusty coating).
  4. Heat BBQ to 350. Turn off one element (this is where you will place chicken as the herbs may flare up).
  5. BBQ chicken until done.
  6. Serve on a bed of Barley Risotto, above.

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