Archive for October, 2009

I have been really bad about blogging lately. My hesitation is that I want to post recipes with photos, but I do hate our crappy little Nikon so I procrastinate. My dear friend Barb gave me the boot last night and suggested that I post my creations anyway, so here I go (thanks Barbie!).

We haven’t seen Barb and Kevin for quite some time, so we had them over for a tapas dinner. What’s really nice about a tapas dinner is that it’s the entire evening. We sat in front of a roaring fire and ate little portions all night long. If you think about the time you spend creating a sit-down meal and the relatively little time it takes to devour said meal, the tapas menu is a much more satisfying experience! I’ll post only recipes I haven’t posted before and I will try to link those that I have posted before. Keep in mind that I never use a recipe verbatim, I always eyeball to my own personal taste. This is a rendition of how I remember doing this dinner. Hope you enjoy.

Round One: Asia
Sushi rolls
Lemongrass soup w. shrimp
Mango salad
Wine: South African Viognier

Round Two: Mediterranean
Chorizo w. tomato & balsamic
Onion & orange Salad
Wine: Spanish Rioja

Round Three: Europe
French onion soup dumplings
Beef bourguignon
Roasted golden beet & goats cheese salad
Wine: French Cabernet Sauvignon

Round Four: North America
Québec Artisan Cheeses w. crackers and breads
Wine: Ontario Late Harvest Riesling

Lemongrass Soup with Shrimp (80 mL each serving, serves 4)

  • 350mL low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots finely chopped
  • 3 dried Kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 tbsp lemongrass, finely ground
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, finely ground
  • 2 tsp or so freshly grated ginger (I like to use my microplane for this)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic (I like to use my microplane for this)
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • pinch of roasted chilli paste
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar (you may substitute honey for this)
  • 4 medium mushrooms (cut into quarters)
  • 4 cooked shrimp
  • 3 tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 3 tbsp finely sliced green onions
  1. This soup is prepared relatively quickly so it is best to have your mise en place  so all you do is add ingredients to the pot.
  2. Chopped shallots, set aside. Grind lemongrass and coriander seed, set aside (I like to use my spice grinder aka coffee grinder dedicated to spices).
  3. Heat olive oil in a 3 quart soup pot, add finely chopped shallots and sauté until soft.
  4. Add lemongrass, coriander and freshly grated ginger and garlic and sauté until you can smell all of the ingredients (less than 1 minute).
  5. Add chicken stock, fish sauce, lemon juice, chili paste, kaffir lime leaves and agave nectar and stir to combine.
  6. Bring to a boil and allow flavours to blend about 5-7 minutes on the boil, taste to make sure it is seasoned well.
  7. Add mushrooms about half-way through the boil.
  8. Remove from heat. Remove kaffir lime leaves.
  9. Serve in small bowls, adding one shrimp per bowl, garnish with chopped cilantro and finely sliced green onions.
  10. Enjoy!

Mango Salad (serves 4 small)

  • 1 medium ripe mango
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 2 radishes
  • 2 green onions finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 4 tbsp coarsely chopped peanuts
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 finely chopped thai chili
  • 1 tsp agave nectar (or honey)
  1. This salad is best made the morning of the day you are serving so that the dressing has time to blend into the salad.
  2. Using a fine slice on a mandolin, finely julienne the mango, cucumber and radishes, toss to mix well.
  3. Add green onions and cilantro leaves and toss again, set aside.
  4. In a small measuring cup, mix lime juice, fish sauce, thai chili and agave nectar and whisk until well combined. Set aside for about 5 minutes.
  5. Strain thai chili’s from the dressing (otherwise it could be way too hot!) and pour over the salad mixture. Toss to coat evenly and refrigerate 4-5 hours.
  6. To serve, garnish with additional cilantro leaves and chopped peanuts.
  7. Enjoy!

Chorizo with Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar (serves 4)

  • 1 cup 1/4″ sliced chorizo sausage
  • 2 medium sized plum tomatoes, seeded but skins left on
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion (I prefer Mayan sweet onions or vidalia)
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped (I prefer to use my microplane)
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat olive oil in a small pan, add chorizo and caramelize each side.
  2. Add onions and garlic and sauté for a minute. Add tomatoes and sauté for another minute.
  3. Add balsamic and allow balsamic to reduce slightly 3-4 minutes (this will thicken the balsamic a bit)
  4. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

Red Onion and Orange Salad (serves 4) adapted from Spain-Recipes.com

  • 2 medium navel oranges, peeled, sectioned and sliced in half into bite sized pieces.
  • 1 small red onion finely sliced (mandolin works best)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3 tbsp salted sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons blueberry merlot balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Section oranges over a bowl to catch the juice that undoubtedly drizzle from the orange.
  2. Combine oranges, onions and raising in a bowl.
  3. Combine vinegar and olive oil and mix well.
  4. Pour over oranges and onions. Refrigerate overnight (this will allow the onions to mellow quite a lot).
  5. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top and serve.

French Onion Soup Bundles (makes about 24 dumplings, which may be frozen for future use)

  • 2 large mayan onions
  • 2 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1/4 cup Port
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 48 sheets of won ton wrappers
  • 1 egg white with a little water to help glue the wrappers
    Beef Broth for presentation
  • 2 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1/4 cup port
  • 1 clove garlic smashed but left whole
  • 1 small onion in large chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 cup gruyère cheese finely grated and broiled on a silpat sheet until crispy
  1. Finely chop onion and garlic.
  2. Heat olive oil and add onion and garlic, sauté for about 1 minute. Slowly add the beef broth to cover, add bay leaves. Stirring frequently, boil down adding stock as it evaporates until all the stock is consumed by the onions and the onions are golden brown.
  3. Add port to deglaze the pan, add thyme.
  4. Set aside to cool completely.
  5. Lay out 6 won ton wrappers at a time, painting each one with the egg white and water mixture. Add about 1 tsp of the onion reduction to the centre of each wrap and fold two opposing sides into the centre so they overlap and the sides are smoothed out to seal. Layout 6 more won ton wrappers at a time and paint each one with the egg white mixture. Lay filled won tons seam side down and repeat the folding process. Place finished bundles onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment so they do not touch one another. Repeat until the entire onion mixture has been used. Freeze over night and store in a zip lock bag for future use.
  6. For presentation, I like to serve the bundles in a beef broth reduction, drizzled with gruyère crème and a gruyère crisp. To make the beef broth reduction, add 2 cups beef broth, smashed garlic, onion in large chunks, 1 bay leaf and thyme into a sauce pan and simmer until reduced to about 3/4 cup. Strain liquid and set aside (discard onion, garlic, bay leaf mix).
  7. To serve, steam bundles for about 3-4 minutes until the won ton is done. Heat beef broth reduction and pour evenly into four shallow round bowls (should just be a hint of liquid, not a soup). Add french onion soup bundles and drizzle with the gruyère crème (I like the contrasts of the cold crème and the hot bundles in the hot soup) – garnish with the gruyère crisp. Serve immediately.
  8. Enjoy!

Beef Bourguignon was JT’s specialty and he followed Julia Child’s recipe which can be found on line at Julia Child recipes: Boeuf à la Bourguignonne (should be made ahead and reheated on the stove for a few minutes, adding red wine if needed).

Roasted Golden Beets, Sautéed Beet Greens and Goats Cheese Salad

  • 3 medium golden beets (well scrubbed, tops and bottoms trimmed, cut into 2″ cubes)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil in about 4 cups water
  • 1 oz pancetta finely sliced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 2-3 cups well washed and chopped beet greens
  • 1/4 cup balsamic
  • 1 tsp pesto (home made or store bought)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup goats cheese crumbled
  1. Preheat over to 375°F.
  2. Put beet cubes into the water and olive oil, strain (this is an excellent way to reduce fat as the olive oil floats and as you strain the beets, it sticks evenly to the beets). Discard water.
  3. Arrange beets in a 13″ x 10″ pan evenly so they are not on top of one another. Bake for about 45 minutes or until beets are tender to pierce.
  4. Fry pancetta in 1 tsp olive oil until crisp, add onions and garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
  5. Add beet greens and sauté until soft (4-5 minutes). Remove from heat and add roasted beets.
  6. In a small measuring cup, mix balsamic, pesto and olive oil together.
  7. Place greens and beets on a platter and add crumbled goats cheese. Drizzle dressing over the warm salad and serve immediately.
  8. Enjoy!

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We made our traditional trek up to my brother Gus’s cottage at Lake Rosseau. Last year JT went golfing, this year it snowed!

Snowing across Lake Rosseau Oct 11, 2009

Sudden snow storm across the lake.

Eva, Jack and Annie

Of course, I am bundled up like a snowman, and the kids barely have a sweater on! It was quite chilly, no really!

Afternoon walk, lake Rosseau

A nice afternoon walk. No, we didn’t bump into Martin Short, but I think he was there – his gate was open!

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This year we had to close the cottage down a bit early because of weekend obligations. It’s never fun but we’ve got it down to a science so it generally goes smoothly.

Because it’s a work weekend, I try to make most of the food easy and fast. For the first time in months, we were able to sneak away from work early, around 2ish, which means we’re on the road by 3! Of course, the gods of traffic hate us, and we barely made it up in four hours!!! Should be a 3.25 hour trip. But we made it.

I made an asparagus soup the night before. I generally keep a baggy of asparagus ends in the freezer and take out as needed. Because they are usually the end you discard anyway, it’s basically free. For this soup, you will need more than you think because a lot of it is discarded after it’s run through a fine sieve (it’s mostly the woody parts, but they are still quite tasty.

Asparagus Soup

Creamed Asparagus Soup (serves 2 as main course or 4 as small cups)

  • 2 cups asparagus stems (I generally use the ends which I have snapped off over the summer months and frozen)
  • 1-2 cups low sodium chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 slices prosciutto
  • 2 thinly sliced crusty bread
  • 1/4 cup grated gruyère
  1. Thinly slice prosciutto and fry until crispy in a little oil (1 tsp)
  2. Drain crispy prosciutto and set aside.
  3. Using about 1-3 tsp olive oil, rub both sides of bread and toast until crispy. Set aside.
  4. Using 1 tbsp olive oil, sweat out the onions until soft, add the asparagus stems which have been cut into about 1 inch lengths.
  5. Add 1 cup chicken stock and cook until the asparagus is very soft.
  6. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth (you will need a good motor because the woody stems may cause problems).
  7. Once you have puréed the soup, ladle into a fine sieve and press through using the back of your ladle (do not skip this step, the woodiness of the stems will make this soup inedible if you don’t strain it!). Add more stock until desired consistency has been achieved.
  8. While keeping soup warm, sprinkle the gruyère evenly onto one side of each toast. Place under broiler for a minute until cheese is bubbling.
  9. Ladle soup into two bowls, gently top with the gruyère toast and sprinkle with the prosciuto crisps. Serve hot
  10. Enjoy!

Check out the photos from the weekend.

Free Soup: Creamed Asparagus Soup on Foodista

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