Friday, February 17, 2017

Swordfish with Citrus & Cilantro Marinade

I adore swordfish and serve it at least two or three times a month. Ideally, it's best grilled outdoors on a barbecue to create gorgeous grill marks, but when faced with a winter that just won't quit, baking the swordfish in the oven is the next best thing. With a dense, meaty texture and mildly sweet flavour, the key is preparing a marinade that is fragrant enough to enhance the swordfish without overpowering it's delicacy. This fabulous Citrus and Cilantro Marinade of lemon and orange zest, cilantro, sesame oil, olive oil and Ponzu sauce works beautifully on swordfish as well as salmon, tilapia or even seafood. Marinated for at least half an hour, the swordfish is simply baked in a 400°F oven for about 25 minutes, or until it's just cooked through. Served with a light salad and chilled glass of white wine, warmer weather doesn't seem so far away.

Swordfish with Citrus & Cilantro Marinade
Serves 2

1 lb swordfish, cut in two
3 slices of orange and arugula, for garnish

2 tbsp chopped cilantro
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Kikkoman Ponzu citrus-seasoned soy sauce

In a small food processor, blend the cilantro, lemon zest, orange zest, olive oil, sesame oil and ponzu sauce until well combined. Place the swordfish in a flat dish and coat with the marinade. Allow the fish to marinate 30-60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F and bake the swordfish in a non reactive dish for 25 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through.  To serve, place the swordfish on a warmed serving plate and garnish with sliced orange and arugula, accompanied with the salad and a chilled bottle of white wine.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Mulligatawny Soup: An Anglo-Indian Classic

A classic Anglo-Indian soup, the name of which means "pepper water," should be richly endowed with meat and piquantly spiced, Mulligatawny became popular with the British stationed in India during colonial times of the late 18th century and later. When they returned home, they brought the recipe back with them to England and other members of the Commonwealth, especially Australia. The recipe for mulligatawny has varied greatly over the years and there is no single original version, but is usually based on a chicken stock and curry, with cream, chicken, onion, celery, apples and almonds and garnished with rice. This recipe by Sydney Oland starts with toasting mustard, cumin and coriander seeds in a small pan over high heat until the spices become toasted and wonderfully fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transferred to a mortar and pestle and ground until fine, it also features fresh ginger, garlic, sweet potato, tomato and green lentils for a bright, richly flavoured and satisfying soup, perfect on a cold winter day.

Mulligatawny Soup
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Sydney Oland

1/2 tsp whole mustard seeds

1/2 tsp whole cumin seed
1/2 tsp whole coriander seed
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb chicken thighs, skinless
1onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
1 medium carrot, finely chopped, about 3/4 cup
1 celery rib, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
1 tbsp curry powder
3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 inch piece fresh ginger, finely grated
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 apple, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 plum tomato, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup dry red or green lentils
6 cups homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken broth, or water
Greek yogurt, to garnish
Finely chopped cilantro, to garnish
Red chili flakes, to garnish

Place mustard seed, cumin seed, and coriander seed in a skillet and toast over high heat until spices begin to smell toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and process until fine.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Season the chicken thighs with salt and black pepper and roast until cooked through, about 25 minutes, then transfer to a plate and reserve.

Add the vegetable oil to a large pot and once hot, add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring often until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and toasted spices and stir until the vegetables are evenly covered. Add the garlic, ginger, sweet potato, apple and plum tomato and stir to coat. Add the lentils then return the baked chicken thighs to the pot. Add the broth and bring to a simmer, then cover and cook until the potatoes and lentils are soft and soup has thickened, about 1 hour.

Remove thighs from the soup and shred the meat and skin then return to the pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve garnished with yogurt, cilantro, and red pepper flakes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mini Chocolate Pecan Tarts: A Valentine Treat

One of the most irresistible of desserts, nothing beats a sweet and delicious Pecan Pie. This classic recipe is an updated mini bite-size version of the traditional Southern family favourite. With a buttery chocolate tart pastry and rich nutty caramel pecan topping, these mouth wateringly decadent Caramel Pecan Tarts are absolutely divine, completely addictive and the ultimate Valentine Day treat.

Mini Chocolate Pecan Tarts
Makes 4 mini tarts

Chocolate Tart Pastry:

1 cup of very cold butter cut into ½-inch pieces
1 1/3 cups of all purpose flour
1/3 cup of pastry flour
3/4 cups of icing sugar
2/3 cup of cocoa
1/4 tsp of kosher salt
1/4 cup of water

Chocolate Pecan Tart Filling:
4 large eggs
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 tsp of kosher salt
2/3 cup of corn syrup
2/3 cup of whipping cream
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/3 cup of brandy
1/4 cup of butter, melted
1 ½ cup of pecan halves

Chocolate Drizzle:

1/3 cup of whipping cream
4 oz of semi-sweet chocolate
1 tbsp of corn syrup

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Using a food processor, combine the butter, flour, pastry flour, cocoa, icing sugar, and salt and pulse until the texture resembles coarse sand. Add the water and mix until the pastry just comes together, being careful not to over process. Using your fingers, press the dough firmly into four 4-inch mini springform pans with removable bottom and chill for 30 minutes. Line the pans with parchment paper and fill with baking beans and bake for 8-10 minutes or until just firm. Remove from the oven and discard the parchment paper and baking beans.

Reduce the oven to 350°F. Using a standing mixer fitted with flat beater attachment, begin the tart filling by beating the eggs, both the sugars, salt and syrup until just combined but not frothy. Stir in the whipping cream, vanilla, brandy, and melted butter, then fold in the pecans. Pour into the pre-baked tarts and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the filling is set and slightly puffed in the centre. Allow to cool completely before adding the optional drizzle topping.

Coarsely chop the chocolate and place in a heat-proof bowl. Place a small saucepan on medium heat and cook until the cream just comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat, and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for a 2-3 minutes and stir until the both the cream and chocolate form a homogeneous mixture. Add the corn syrup and stir again.

Using a teaspoon, dot the topping of each of the cooled tarts and swirl decoratively. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled. The tarts can also be stored for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Shrimp Chow Fun: A Cantonese Noodle Classic

Chow Fun is a popular Cantonese dish made with stir-fried wide 'He-Fun' Chinese noodles in a sweet savoury sauce with scallions, ginger, bean sprouts and dark soy. With a wonderful flavour and texture, these silky soft wide rice noodles can be stir-fried with beef, chicken, pork, shrimp or any section of seafood, and often makes an appearance during festive occasions, because they are a symbol of long life in Chinese culture.

Shrimp Chow Fun

Serves 4

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined 

2 tbsp rice wine

2 tsp light soy sauce

1/4 tsp white pepper


2 tsp dark soy sauce

2 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tsp chili in oil
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp rice wine
4 tbsp water

Stir Fry:
4 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1 tbsp chopped ginger
2 tbsp chopped garlic
2 red chili or 1/4 of red bell pepper, seeded and julienne
6 oz shiitake mushrooms, finely sliced
20 oz chow fun noodles - fresh wide rice noodles
8 green onion, cut in halves lengthwise & cut into 2-inches long pieces
8 oz bean sprouts
2 tsp sesame oil and seeds for garnish

Combine the rice wine, light soy sauce and white pepper to the shrimp in a medium bowl, toss together and set aside. Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce in a medium bowl and whisk well until the sugar has dissolved, then set aside.

Heat a wok over hight heat and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the shrimp and cook 1 to 2 minutes each side or until almost cooked through,  then remove from the wok and set aside. In the same wok, add the remaining cooking oil, then add ginger, garlic and red chili. Stir fry for 30 second to 1 minute or until it becomes fragrant. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened, about 1-2 minutes, adding another teaspoon of oil if needed.

Add the noodles and sauce, and stir fry until noodles soften and absorb the sauce, about 2-3 minutes. Then add the chopped green onion, bean sprouts and shrimp, and stir fry for 30 second to 1 minute. Remove from heat and garnish with sesame oil and sesame seeds. Serve immediately. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Guy's Famous 9-Bean Soup with Pancetta & Chard

My husband has a number of recipes which he loves to make, but his favourite and mine is his famous Bean Soup. He used to make it as a bachelor because the ingredients were relatively inexpensive, was easy to make and tasted great. Although the selection of beans change every time he makes this soup, the onions, garlic, tomatoes and swiss chard remain consistent, as well as his secret ingredient — Patak's curry paste. In fact, for the first few years we were married, he would't even let me in the kitchen when he made his Bean Soup, for fear I'd discover the recipe's elusive flavour and would be able to make the soup without him. No fear of that — this is his 'baby' and I always look forward to him making a big batch to stock our freezer for months to come. Delicious with a little grated pecorino on top for extra zing, this soup is sensational.

Guy's Famous Nine-Bean & Tomato Soup with Pancetta and Swiss Chard
Serves 10-12

1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
3 tbsp olive oil
4 oz pancetta, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp Patak's curry paste
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1 28 oz can Italian plum tomatoes
2 19 oz can six bean mix, drained
1 19 oz can black beans, drained
1 19 oz can green broad beans, drained
1 19 oz can lentils, drained
12 cups homemade or purchased chicken stock
1 bunch swiss chard, trimmed, stalks removed and chopped

In a large pot, sauté the diced onion, pancetta, garlic, curry paste and chili flakes in olive oil over medium-high until translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes with the juice, and stir to combine with the onion mixture. Cook for 15 minutes, then add all of the beans followed by the chicken stock and swiss chard.  Increase the heat to high until the stock just starts to bubble, then turn it down to low and cover for 20 minutes. "Done...easy-peasy," Guy says. This soup freezes beautifully, and with the quantity it makes, you'll have lovely soup for weeks to come.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Roast Chicken Grand-Mère with Celeriac & Thyme

Roast Chicken Grand-Mère is a classic French fricassée. Warm and filling, this braised chicken casserole is prepared the old-fashioned way: everything is simmered together in one pot. Any dish termed 'Grand-Mère' has the same 4 ingredients: glazed pearl onions, bacon lardons, sautéed mushrooms and small new potatoes. French cuisine is filled with lots of comforting cottage-style gems, known as 'recettes de Grand-Mère', or 'grandmother's recipes'. A classic in French cuisine, Chicken Grand-Mère was a specialty in Chef Daniel Boulud's family too, and a favourite of his Grandmother Francine who cooked at the original Café Boulud outside Lyon. 

"The best thing my grandmother made, appropriately enough, was the French classic Poulet Grand-Mère. You can make it with a whole chicken, but she did it as a fricassée, with the chicken cut into portions. You simply brown the meat in a sauté pan then add shallots, garlic, potatoes, mushrooms and chicken stock and bake it in the oven. We picked the mushrooms, raised the chickens, grew the onions. All of the elements were perfect together because of their freshness, and no time was it better to make this dish than at mushroom harvest time, when my grandmother would add rose des pres, pink field mushrooms, newly dug potatoes, and new garlic." 

Chef Daniel Boulud

Chicken breasts dressed in vegetable oil, seasoned with coarse sea salt, 
fresh ground black pepper and baked at 375°F for about 30-40 minutes

When I make Chicken Grand-Mère, I generally use chicken breasts rather than cutting up a whole chicken, simply because it's easier to control the cooking time of the meat. The breasts are coated in vegetable oil then seasoned with salt and pepper and baked along with some new potatoes for about 30 to 40 minutes. When they're all nice and golden brown, it's time to remove them from the oven and start on the vegetables.

The breasts are nicely browned and cooked through

Lovely and crispy golden brown new potatoes

Pearl onions are blanched, peeled and added to an oven-proof casserole along with 2 tablespoons of butter, 4 chopped shallots and 3 cloves of garlic, and sautéed on the stove top until they become soft and fragrant. Cremini mushrooms, a diced bulb of celeriac and 4 or 5 slices of chopped thick bacon are then added the the mixture and cooked until the bacon starts rendering its fat. The casserole then is covered over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes to stop the ingredients from sticking.

Sliced shallots, garlic and blanched pearl onions sautéed in butter

Cremini mushrooms - large ones are halved and the smaller are left whole

Peeled and diced celeriac

Bacon, celeriac and mushrooms are added to the casserole

The cooked chicken breasts are added with 2 cups of chicken broth

The cooked chicken breasts and 2 cups of chicken broth are added to the cooked vegetables and the casserole is baked uncovered in the oven for about half an hour or so, until all of the lovely flavours have melded and the chicken is cooked through. This dish is wonderfully soothing and satisfying whether you’re making it simply with cremini mushrooms and new potatoes, or dressed up with exotic wild mushrooms or any of the small fingerling or organic potatoes that many local markets now offer. Simple, savoury and delicious, Roast Chicken Grand-Mère is the ultimate classic comfort food on a cold winter day, especially when served with a warm crusty baguette to sop up all of the flavourful juices — bon appetite!

Roast Chicken Grand-Mère
Serves 4

4 chicken breasts, bone in and skin on
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
12 pearl onions, skin on
4 shallots, peeled and sliced finely
4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
6 sprigs thyme
16 small Yukon Gold potatoes
1 celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
6 oz bacon, cut into short thin strips
16 small cremini mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and halved
2 cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 crusty Baguette, to serve with chicken

Centre a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 375°F.

Blanch the pearl onions in a small pot of boiling water for about 2 minutes, and when they're cool enough to handle, peel off the outer skin, trim off the root end, cover and set aside.

In a large bowl, coat the chicken breasts and small potatoes all over with canola oil, then place the chicken and potatoes in two separate foil-lined baking pans. Season them both generously with salt and pepper and roast together in the oven until the chicken breasts are well browned on top, about 30-40 minutes. Meanwhile, remember to stir the potatoes every 10-15 minutes to ensure they become golden all over. When the chicken and potatoes are deeply golden, remove them from the oven and transfer to a platter and keep warm while you work on the vegetables.

Pour off 2 tablespoons of the cooking fat from the baking pan and place into an oven-proof casserole over medium heat, on the stove top. Add the butter and sliced shallots and cook, stirring frequently, about 5-6 minutes. Then add the cipollini onions, garlic and thyme and cook just until the vegetables start to take on a little color, about 5 minutes. Add the celery root and bacon and cook for 5-6 minutes, until the bacon starts rendering its fat. Then cover the pan and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and return the chicken to the pan. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and slide the pan into the oven. Bake, uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Spoon everything onto a warm serving platter or serve from the casserole, and garnish with extra sprigs of thyme. To serve, bring the chicken to the table with plenty of crusty baguette to sop up the sauce.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Guy's Spaghetti Bolognese: A Comfort Food Classic

Spaghetti Bolognese is the traditional Italian ragu from Bologna, a slowly cooked sauce that characteristically includes a soffritto of onion, celery and carrot, minced or finely chopped beef, pancetta and red wine. A small amount of tomato concentrate or tomatoes are added, and the dish is then gently simmered at length to produce a rich thick sauce. Outside of Italy, "Spag-Bol" as my husband calls it, consists of a meat sauce served on a bed of spaghetti topped with a sprinkling of grated Parmigiana cheese — maybe even with a loaf of warm garlic bread — and although it bears little resemblance to the traditional Italian ragù, few could argue that it isn't molto delizioso, especially with a loaf of Guy's Garlic Ciabatta on the side. 

Spaghetti Bolognese with Beef, Mushrooms & Red Wine
Serves 6

1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oli
1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
3 cups homemade tomato sauce, or good quality store-bought
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup red wine
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 lb spaghetti
1 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino 
1 bunch parsley, chopped for garnish

In a large frying pan, melt the butter on medium-high heat and when it starts to sizzle, add the mushrooms and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes, then set aside. Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan set on medium-high and add the ground beef, stirring frequently until the meat is no longer pink and is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste, and stir thoroughly to combine. Turn the heat down to low, and add the mushrooms plus their liquid into the bolognese, then pour in the red wine and continue stirring until the mixture is the desired consistency. For a looser sauce, add some water or beef stock as necessary. Cover the sauce and continue cooking on low heat to meld the flavours, about another 30-60 minutes.

Set a large pot of water to boil over high heat, and when it comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook according to the manufacturers instructions. When al dente or to taste, drain in a colander then return to the pot and combine with just enough bolognese sauce just to coat the noodles. To serve, arrange the semi-dressed pasta in warmed dinner bowls and top with a mound of additional sauce, as desired. Sprinkle some grated cheese on top and a garnish of chopped parsley and serve immediately, with additional parmigiana on the side for those who wish a little more.

Guy's Garlic Ciabatta
Serves 6

1 fresh ciabatta or baguette
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, mash up the butter and minced garlic until it's well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add the chopped parsley. Cut the ciabatta in half length wise being careful not o cut all the way through — it should open like a book. Liberally spread the garlic butter on the inside of both 'halves', then wrap snuggly in aluminum foil. Place in a preheated oven set to 375°F and bake for 15-20 minutes. Just before serving, open the garlic bread up from it's foil package and allow it to cook open to the heat of the oven for another 5 minutes. To serve, close the bread back to it's original loaf shape and slice into 1-inch pieces. Place in a bread basket and serve with the pasta.