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Archive for November, 2010

We are having good friends MiMi and David for dinner Saturday night. Here is the menu:
Crostini with Seared scallop and avocado paste
Shrimp bisque with saffron garlic aoili toast – see below
Beef tenderloin with port reduction,
Roast garlic mashed potatoes
Green beans with butter and almonds
Molten chocolate cake, crème anglais and raspberries!

Shrimp bisque with saffron garlic aoili toast

Adapted from Gourmet, April 2001
Yield: Makes 4 servings (about 4 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
  • 1/4 stick (1/8 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup Pernod
  • 1 qt water
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 medium potato, cubed
  • 1 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup carnation LF evaporated milk
  • Fresh lemon juice to taste
  • Accompaniment: saffron garlic aioli toasts.

Directions:

  1. Cook shrimp shells in 1/2 tablespoon butter in a 4-quart pot over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until golden. Add Pernod and boil, stirring frequently, until most of liquid is evaporated. Add water and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes. Pour shrimp stock through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing on shells and then discarding them.
  2. While stock is simmering, cook shrimp with salt to taste in 1 tablespoon butter in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to pot, then cook celery, potato and onion over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Stir in tomato paste, cayenne, salt, and shrimp stock and simmer, covered, about 20 minutes. Set aside 4 shrimp and stir remainder into bisque.
  3. Purée bisque in batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids), then pour through fine sieve into another pot. Stir in evaporated milk and cook over low heat until heated through (do not boil).
  4. Use reserved shrimp as part of garnish for bisque on a toast with a dollop of aioli.

Cooks’ note: Bisque can be made 2 days ahead. Cool, uncovered, before chilling, covered.
Save your shrimp shells in the freezer throughout the year and add to stock for even more flavour.
Reserve the shrimp ‘paste’ from the sieve and beat with cream cheese for an additional dip!

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Original Recipe from Food Network Canada Christine Cushing

Pistachio Hazelnut Baklava

  • 1/4 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios
  • 1/2 cup shelled, roasted hazelnuts
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 finely grated lemon rind
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 sheets phyllo pastry
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, combine the pistachios, hazelnuts, cloves, 1/4 cup of the sugar and 2 tsp. of the cinnamon.
  3. Pulse until nuts are coarsely chopped. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 2 tbsp. sugar and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.
  5. Lay out 1 sheet of phyllo (keep remaining phyllo under a damp tea towel) and brush gently with some melted butter.
  6. Sprinkle with a little of the cinnamon mixture.
  7. Lay another piece of phyllo on top and repeat the brushing and sprinkling of cinnamon mixture, ending with a layer of phyllo that is only brushed with butter.
  8. Sprinkle with nut mixture and the remaining sugar.
  9. Roll the phyllo into a cigar shape.
  10. Transfer the roll to prepared baking sheet and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until browned and crisp.
  11. Remove from oven and cut the roll into 9 pieces.
  12. Let cool completely.
  13. Transfer pieces to a baking dish just large enough to hold them.
  14. Meanwhile, prepare syrup by combining water, honey and lemon juice in a small saucepan.
  15. Bring to a boil, stirring, and remove from heat.
  16. Pour over cooled baklava and let stand about 30 to 90 minutes before serving; for best flavour pour honey about 2 days ahead of serving. Store in an air tight container.

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A relatively quick appetizer with a little planning!

Serves 2

  • 5-6 dried mushrooms (choose a variety)
  • Water to cover
  1. Immerse dried mushrooms in water and allow to sit for 4-6 hours at room temperature.
  2. Strain mushroom stockR using a coffee filter, rince mushrooms well and slice into bite-sized pieces.

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp EV olive oil
  • 1 regular white mushroom
  • 1-2 tbsp fine white flour
  • Optional 2 tbsp heavy cream (or carnation evaporated milk – I did not use either for this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp cognac
  • 8 shavings of Double Smoked White Cheddar
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 thinly sliced crusty bread, rubbed with olive oil and toasted one side only.
  1. In a small saucepan, heat oil and butter until melted and hot. Add onions and cook until translucent.
  2. Sprinkle with flour, add garlic and cook just until you smell it.
  3. Cook flour mix until it is a medium brown colour (careful not to burn).
  4. Add about 1 cup of the reserved mushroom broth. Add both types of mushrooms, and cook until liquid is a creamy, slightly thicker than soup consistency (adding additional reserved liquid as required – or you may add heavy cream at this point for a creamy and not so healthy option)
  5. Add the cognac and cook for about 1 minute longer.
  6. Serve on a large plate, placing bread toasted side up, spreading about half the ragu on each toast and sprinkling with 4 each of cheese shavings and freshly chopped parsley.
  7. Enjoy.

Mushroom Ragu On Toast With Double Smoked Canadian Cheddar on Foodista

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My Place – A Canadian Pub is a relatively new (opened in 2009) pub in Bloor West Village (well, almost, but close enough). Last Thursday was our third time, and likely the last. We were fortunate enough to have our good friend Paul up for the evening, and what better way to celebrate than some Canadian Pub Fare? We made reservations, although we clearly did not need to, the place was empty. I’ve always found this place a bit pricey for exactly what you got, but when I went on line I had noticed that they had lowered their prices, so we thought we’d give them another go.

The pub is retro-fitted from a very badly designed sports bar of yester-year. The new décor is OK, but with all of Brad Long’s design connections, I would have expected better. The bar and area is very nice, old mini school-house lights, dark wooden shelves, great tin ceilings. The restaurant area still has too much of a European bad sports bar décor for my taste (angled wood surround brick on walls which looks kinda churchy, and there are some stained glass windows). School house lamps continue in the main dining area, but there are some weird ‘taps’ protruding from the wall which may have been booth lighting in years past, but are now just strange taps. The back dining room has the ugliest fluted glass and brass lamps hanging from the ceiling (why not school house lights here too?). The booths are OK, no big impression. I do recall that the place was freezing cold, and it was only November 4! Both front and back stairs have seen better days, broken tile, rickety stairs.

The place is huge, but broken up into smaller spaces which is nice. The restrooms downstairs are fine, Toto toilets (although mine wouldn’t stop filling!).

The food. The portions are a good size – although a bit pricey. Paul started with the cup of chili, which was about 2 cups worth. It was delicious, lots of cumin. Mains: I had the Grilled Vegetable Tortilla with Sour Cream and Guacamole, JT had the fish and chips and Paul had the pulled Berkshire Pork. My tortilla was delicious and huge, I finished only half of it. JT’s fish batter was soggy, personally, I would have sent it back, but he didn’t want to make a scene; Paul’s pulled pork (which we’ve had before, first time was great, second time was so so, too much fat, not enough meat and too much sauce) had no comment. I brought my Tortilla home and JT had it for lunch the next day. They forgot to put in the sour cream and guacamole (yes, there was enough left over).

Overall, this place is not drawing me back anytime soon. There are far too many new places to try in Toronto.

My Place – A Canadian Pub: Overall rating (in my opinion): Decor 2.5/5, service 2.5/5, food 2.5/5, Value 2/5, Noise: 4/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet)

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