Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Local Fare

"I bought a lamb today" Shawn says to me nonchalantly over our morning coffee (that we are gulping as we are trying to get everyone out of the house on time)
"OK.....I thought we were talking about getting goats, maybe some chickens again, we never talked about a lamb"
"Yep, well we just have to decide how we want it cut up"
Oh, now I get it, he bought meat, not a "pet".
OK, so now I have to clean out the freezer (needs to be done anyway) to accommodate 50 pounds or so of lamb.

The day the lamb arrives, we are in Picton playing at the beach, visiting some wineries and enjoying the last week of summer. Fortunately, Nana can go and meet the "lamb lady"
Two days later, I pull some lamb out for dinner, musing that it has been a really long time since we have done a tour on our culinary adventure. You know how summer can be.....
Being the end of summer, it is one of my favourite times of year, harvest time! I adore buying vegetables and fruit at the side of the road, and harvesting whatever small successes I have had out of my own garden. I am very quickly able to put together a local meal and call it a stop on our "Round the World Culinary Tour.

I find a recipe for the lamb in my Chez Piggy Cookbook (for those of you not from Kingston, Chez Piggy is a local gourmet restaurant) and I scrub up some potatoes from the road side veggie stand up the road.
For dessert, I spy the pint of blueberries I picked up in Picton, I think of Shawn's favourite, blueberry pie. But alas, he does not eat wheat, and I have yet to experiment with pastry.....but I do have some organic, locally grown and milled spelt flour, hmmm should be able to come up with something, how about Blueberry Spelt hand pies? See recipe
For a starter, I settle on a mixed baby green salad (locally grown of course) with blueberries, walnuts (OK..those were not local) and blue cheese we had picked up from Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co in Picton and made a maple vinaigrette (with maple syrup we tapped and boiled ourselves this past spring)
Oh....and of course we need some drinks!
As I said, we had just returned from visiting some wineries in the Picton area, and came home with 6 bottles from Sandbanks Estate Wineries.
Also, did you know that Picton also has a vodka distillery?  66 Gilead Distillery Hmmm.....before dinner cocktail perhaps??






My Blueberry French Toast Martini
In shaker shake 1 1/2 oz 66 Gilead Distillery Rye Vodka
with ice.  In the bottom of martini glass, pour a wee bit of maple syrup and top with vodka from shaker. Garnish with blueberries








The lamb is marinating in a mix of
1 cup fresh mint (from my garden!)
a couple of red chili peppers (yep...from my garden!)
2 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
1/2 cup white wine

I also made a mint chutney to serve with it:
4 cups mint leaves
1 cup raisins
1/2 small sweet onion
6 pieces of candied ginger
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste
Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until a paste.





Blueberry walnut salad....I added goat cheese and blue cheese crumble before serving


They were good, but not overly pretty....my first attempt at pastry using spelt flour....
it's apple season soon, I won't give up!!!







And dinner is ready....note the newly painted deck!


Saturday, 6 July 2013

Burma

I take my hat off to all other bloggers out there....it is not an easy task to stay committed and get your entries up in a timely fashion. But here we go, finally another review of our world tour.
Technically, we landed on Estonia this round, and I got excited, as I actually know someone in our neighbourhood from Estonia, and figured, great, I can get some help on this one.

And then Shawn had this great idea, we should go to our friends house (whom we haven't seen in awhile, and they are expecting their first baby, check out their baby blog: http://irwinmoser.wordpress.com/  ) and cook for them. And let them choose the country we dine from. So a few text messages later, Mr. M said Burma (it was the first country that came to mind he later admitted)
OK...Burma (aka The Republic of the Union of Mynamar), bordered by India, China and Thailand....all great culinary countriesI`m looking forward to this trip! In my initial research, I learned that the Burmese people have many superstitions about food during various occasions throughout one`s life, especially pregnancy. Pregnant women should not eat chili, for the belief that it causes the baby to have `sparse scalp hairs`. OK, no chili for Mrs M. I would not want to be held responsible for the amount of hair on Baby M`s head
After a bit of running around for a few obscure ingredients (like agar agar flakes, and asian eshalots; I just used shallots) we sorted out the menu, loaded of a basket and drove over to Mr. & Mrs. M's home.


The Menu
Drink: Pegu Club Cocktail
Appetizer: Yellow Split Pea Fritters
Salad: Papaya
Main: ohn-no khaut swei (coconut chicken noodles)
Dessert: kyauk geor (coconut agar jelly) and fruit

Finding a Burmese drink, of the alcoholic persuasion (not for Mrs M though!) proved difficult. I did however come across the Pegu Club cocktail, invented in a British social club (the Pegu Club) in Burma  in the 1920's. 
1 dash Angostura bitters (found in the grocery store.....I had some from another "trip")
1 dash of orange bitters
1 tsp lime juice
3/4 oz orange curaco
1 1/2 oz gin
ice cubes

Mix all ingredients into shaker, shake and strain into chilled glass.
Of course, things don't always go quite as planned for us. First of all, orange bitters? What the heck are those, and where do you find them? Never mind, surely we can do without. Ice? Well, most people tend to have ice in their freezer. But alas, our gracious hosts did not. They did however have orange freezies. Hmm....could they double as ice cubes and orange bitters? Hey why not?!

The fritters were quite yummy, at first I was not sure about making them, as our fritter attempt in Brazil somewhat failed. So, I put Shawn in charge, and he produced a very fine, yummy fritter....that we ate ALL of! I followed this recipe: http://www.hsaba.com/recipes/yellow-split-pea-fritters

Our salad and our main were both a great hit!
For the Papaya Salad:




  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 large green papaya (I could not find a green papaya, which I believe is just an unripe papaya so I just got a regular papaya. I think the difference would be sweetness, my salad was sweeter)
  • 1/4 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (I forgot them at home....bu in the end did not miss them!)
  • 1 cup peanuts
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • salt
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro 
In a small pan, heat up oil. Cook garlic over low heat until golden, let pan cool.
Shred papaya and mix with cabbage and tomato (if you remembered them). Chop up the peanuts and mix into salad. Drizzle with oil and garlic, sprinkle with soy sauce, vinegar and salt. Toss gently with cilantro. Refreshing and oh so yummy. I'll never make coleslaw again!!




Our main dish, un-no khauk swe was really delsh. And there were so many interpretations of it in the world wide web. I followed this one http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipe/14835/Coconut_sauce_noodles_(ohn-no_khaut_swei) with a few minor alterations. I could not find Asian red Eshalots....so I used shallots.
I had homemade chicken broth in the freezer, so I used that, and just added the fish sauce , ginger and garlic and let it simmer for an hour or so. For the garnishes, I would do an extra egg or 2, they were a surprisingly good addition. And, in keeping with Shawn's wheat intolerance, I used rice noodles rather than egg noodles.







Dessert, did not turn out so great. I'm not sure if our palate did just not enjoy, or if I should have used more sugar. I found agar agar powder, rather than strands or flakes, so maybe that affected it as well.
The recipe I tried:
  • 1/4 cup agar agar flakes
  • 1 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch o' salt
 In a saucepan, combine everything, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 min until all is dissolved. Pour into an 8X8 glass dish and leave on counter to set.  The coconut milk should separate to form 2 layers, but mine did not.
This is what it should have looked like:
This is how mine turned out:


So, I stopped for some exotic fruit on my way home from work to liven dessert up some!


















Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Palau

It took us awhile to figure out how we knew this country....if you're a Survivor fan like we are (seriously, we have no satellite or cable at home, but still have managed to never miss a season, let alone an episode).
It also took awhile to find native food to this small island country in the South Pacific.  Many influences from Japan and India in their cuisine, but to find anything traditional.....
Through another women's blog, who is on a similar tour as us (ghttp://globaltableadventure.com/) and a WAY better blogger than I,  I got the idea to try grilling mussels. As you know, theses tasty morsels are a favourite to 3 of the 4 of us, but never had I heard of cooking them this way.
So delish. I even concocted my own BBQ sauce. After cleaning and prepping your mussels, put them on the grill, and baste with a bit of BBQ sauce when they open.

My Maple-Mango BBQ Sauce!
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 chopped mango
1 small can tomato paste
4 tbsp chili powder
1/2 cup favorite tomato sauce
salt & pepper to taste
Combine all in a small saucepan, and simmer for at least 45 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool.


For our main dish, we went with fish, I picked up some Tilapia from the grocery store, decent mild fish, inexpensive but ALOT of wee bones. In my searching for recipe ideas, I came across a website of a fishing charter company in Palau, who also cooks, and posted this recipe for fish. We made a potato rosti to go with it.
For the fish you need

  • aprox 4 lbs of scaled, gutted fish
  • 3 garlic cloves sliced
  • sliced gingerroot (about the same amount as the garlic)
  • lime leaves, sliced thinly
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • banana leaf (Considering how the last time we used banana leaves(New Guinea) for cooking, we used foil this time)
Score the fish, insert pieces of garlic, ginger and lime leaf in each score, and inside the fish
Combine sesame oil and soy sauce and drizzle over fish. Wrap and grill for about 15 minutes.






Thursday, 4 April 2013

Sweden


I got a call at work from home, and the little voice on the phone said “I'm from Sweden.....we're eating Sweden....”and then the phone hung up.
OK, so bedtime/bathtime hour made us forget our pick the other night. So they picked without me. All is good, we're dining on Swedish fare!
After searching for a few different ideas, I settled on Swedish meatballs. Partly because that's the first thing anyone thought of when I asked for inspiration, and partly becuase I could make a bg batch and we'd have leftovers! To accompany them, I made Jansson Frestelse, a potato dish not unlike scalloped potaoes, but with sardines in it....weird idea, but quite tasty really!
For dessert, I settled on Ostkaka, a Sewdish cheese cake. It was ok, the texture was different from our cheese cake, I will leave the recipe, I don't think we would make it again...let me know if you try it!

For an appetizer,  I really wanted to make Gravlox; Swedish cured salmon, but I didn't have the time, or fresh salmon. So, I compromised with Canadian Smoked Salmon .


Fin with his Finn Crisp!
But served it on rye crackers (I know, Finncrisps are from Finland, not Sweden.....but come on, they're called FINncrisps, and don't contain wheat, so Shawn would eat them) and made the traditional hovmästarsås (hohv-mestar-sohs) to serve with them. And to keep the Canadian-Swedish fusion happening, we had Ceaser's made with Absolut Vodka!
I also picked up a small dish of pickled herring from The Golden Rooster, a great deli downtown.

hovmästarsås
¼ cup dijon mustard
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
fresh dill
salt & pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients, and serve with Gravlox

These were gobbled down by all, quickly. 


There were countless Swedish meatball recipes on line...here is the one I followed:

1/3 cup oats
½ cup cream
1 tbsp potato flour (or regular flour if you prefer)
½ lb lean ground beef (I used venison)
½ lb ground pork
1 egg
1 tbsp grated onion
2 tbsp minced parsley
salt pepper
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger

Sauce
¾ cup water
1 tbsp potato flour
½ cup cream
1-2 beef bullion cubes

In small bowl, mix cream with potato starch until dissolves, add oats and mix well. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Combine remaining ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl. Add oat mixture and mix everything together gently by hand; don't overwork it.
Using your hands, shape meatballs into ping pong ball size (one generous tablespoon of meat worked well) Rinse your hands in cold water to prevent stickiness
Place the meatballs in a large baking dish, leaving a bit of space between them. Broil them about 4” from the heat until tops are browned and well crusted, about 5-10 minutes, watch so they don't burn!
Set oven to bake and reduce heat to 350F and bake until cooked through, about 5-10 minutes. Make the sauce while they are baking.

To make sauce:
In a small saucepan, combine water and starch, stirring until starch is dissolved. Stir in cream and stock.
Heat over medium heat, stirring until thickens. Think sauce, not gravy. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve meatballs hot, offering the sauce on the side, and lingonberry sauce.

I was going to just use cranberry sauce, but I found some frozen, Canadian grown lingonberries at Tara's, a great health food/bulk store downtown, and made my own!



Ostkaka
5 eggs
2 cups half & half cream
½ tsp almond extract
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups cottage cheese (not reduced fat)
strawberries and whipped cream to garnish


Preheat oven to 350F
Place cottage cheese into a colander and rinse until milky juice is gone. Let stand until the rest of the water runs out.
Whisk eggs, cream, sugar and extracts in a large bowl until well blended. Add cottage cheese and mix well. Pour into an ovenproof baking dish and bake in centre of oven for 1 – 1 ½ hours, until knife comes out clean. Serve warm, or at room temperature with berries and whipped cream.



Friday, 22 March 2013

Ireland


On March 17th, I felt we had no choice but to honour Ireland in our culinary tour.
Being a Sunday, and the last day of March Break, and St Patrick's Day....why not start the day with an Irish coffee? While Shawn and I were in Ireland last fall, I learned how to make Irish coffee at the Jameson Distillery Museum....and of course, we had a half bottle of Jameson in the “bar”.
                     


So, first drag yourself out of bed and put the coffee on to brew. While it is brewing, make yourself as presentable as you deem fit. Pour hot coffee into you mug (a clear one if you have it), about ¾ full. Add a small teaspoon of brown sugar and stir. Add 1oz (really.....it is morning after all) of Jameson Irish Whiskey. Pour some cold cream (½ & ½ works.....full 18% will do if that is all you have....) into your chilled cocktail shaker. Shake it up until thickened, and spoon onto the top of your coffee...it should look just like a freshly poured pint of Guinness. Go sit by the fire (or window, or back into bed if you must) and enjoy. Repeat as necessary.

I have had these recipe cards that I had picked up at the Guinness museum in Dublin, and I have hung onto to them for the last year and a half, waiting for a reason to use them....well there's no time like the present!

For dinner we had Venison & Guinness Stew with Champ Potato, for dessert Guinness Chocolate Mousse, and of course a couple of pints of Guinness to wash it all down.  The cans of Guinness we get imported from Ireland are not quite the same, but will do.Fortunately, we are expert Guinness pourers....we have certificates somewhere to prove it....AND even an authentic Guinness pint glass that a friendly barkeep in Sligo “gave” Shawn.

Shawn and the boys donned there Irish rugby shirts, Iain broke one of our Jameson glasses (what kind of karma do you get from breaking a glass we so carefully brought home from Ireland with us ON St Patrick's Day?) and we dug into dinner...and then promptly went to bed.

Venison & Guinness Stew
(my variation, inspired by my recipe card)
This recipe fed the four of us dinner and lunch the next day
  • 1 lb of venison, chopped (recipe card called for ½ pound stewing beef)
  • 1-2 large carrots chopped
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • handful of white mushrooms, quartered (recipe called for parsnip....who actually keeps parsnip in their fridge?)
  • 1L thick stock (beef....or venison if you happen to have it, we did!)
  • sprigs of fresh thyme & rosemary
  • 1 can of Guinness (ummm.....recipe called for only 200ml, I didn't read that until after)

 Stir fry the meat, add the vegetables and cook until tender, then pour in the Guinness (go ahead, use the whole can, you bought a 4-pack, right?) Reduce by half (will take awhile of you used the whole can, if not, it should take the amount of time it takes you to drink the remains of the can)
Add the stock and herbs and simmer slowly for 1 ½ – 2 hours. Serve with champ potato.....which is really just mashed potatoes with spring onions in them, I made mashed potatoes with butter and sour cream, them added in 3 shopped green onions.



Guinness Chocolate Mousse
Serves 6...generous servings!
  • 10 (yep, 10) eggs, separated (as in yolks from whites, not 4 from 6, or 5 from 5)
  • 350g dark chocolate
  • ¼ lb butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 100ml Guiness (did you use, or drink the whole can from the stew? Better open another one.....)


Melt chocolate and butter, stir in the Guinness. Beat yolks and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beak whites until soft peaks form. Mix chocolate into yolk mixture until well combined. Fold in whites until all is smooth. Transfer to serving glasses and chill.
Was great topped with whipped cream (slightly under whipped) and cherries.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Brazil


The night we `landed`on Brazil was also the night we landed on Antarctica.......we had started dropping two fingers on the map due to the amount of times we ended in an ocean.  Initially we were going to do Antarctica, we felt up to the challenge. But in the end, the land of ice and snow got the better of us, this time anyway, and we opted for tropical! But never fear, we will be back to conquer the South Pole, we have a plan in the making, and if this winter weather keeps up, we`ll get to it soon.

Narrowing down a menu for Brazil was difficult......simply so many options! In the end, I decided on the national dish, Feijoada (a black bean & meat stew); and I was not going to use canned beans, I have not had success in the past with dried beans, but I was determined to make it work.  Which meant I had to start the night before. And they turned out great!
The menu for our Brazilian dinner:
Drink: Caipirinihas
Appetizer: Acaraje (black eyed pea fritters)
Main: Feijoada (Brazilian black beans)
Dessert: Quindin

A trip to the LCBO to pick up a bottle of Cachaca (ka-sha-sa) and then a trip to the grocery store for some limes, a coconut, black beans & black eyed peas and I was ready to go.  Cachaca is a liquor made from sugar cane, we decided it was something like a cross between rum and tequila.....at any rate it sure packs a punch!
To make a Caipirinihas wash and cut a lime into chunks. Put the lime into a glass, sprinkle with sugar and muddle to release the juice. Add 2 oz of Cachaca, stir, top with ice and enjoy...carefully. This just might replace my gin & tonics in the summer....



 
Our appetizer of black eyed pea fritters (Acaraje) with shrimp & onion filling did not work out so well, I think that my batter was too wet perhaps. At any rate, Shawn was able to rescue them, and they turned out more like a dense cracker (or bread) which we served the shrimp & onion on top.

Before bed the night before `World Wednesday` I put the black beans on to soak.  The recipe I was `following` called for 8 cups, but considering I wasn`t feeding a soccer team, I opted for 4 cups (this still proved to be ALOT!)  I had found many recipes for making the Feijoada, but still had to adapt the recipes to what I had on hand. Finding Brazilian salted cured beef (carne seca) proved difficult in Kingston. And although this whole tour is supposed to be about trying new things, I have to draw a few lines, and pig snouts, ears and tongues is one of those lines! So, here is my revised Feijoada, for the Canadian kitchen
 
Feijoada Canadiana
4 cups dried black beans
1 pound venison (to see how we acquired our venison, check out my other blog http://eatplaylaughdrink.blogspot.ca/!)
1 pound pork ribs
1/2  lb chorizo sausage
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp oil

The night before, soak the beans in a large pot with water to cover at least 3-4 inches. The next day, drain the beans place in a large pot with enough water to cover 3 inches. Bring the beans to boil of medium heat.
Meanwhile, cut all the meat into 1” pieces, and cut the ribs into 1 or 2 rib sections.
Add all the meat and bay leaves to the beans and simmer for a couple of hours, stirring from time to time, adding water if necessary, until the beans are tender.
Chop the onion and garlic. Saute them in a pan with the oil until soft and golden brown. Add 2 ladles of the beans and mash them. Put this mix back into the pot, and simmer for another hour or so (until you're ready to eat!) It should have a creamy consistency when done.
Serve over a mound of rice.
 For dessert I chose to make Quindin, a coconut custard like treat. It could be made as one large “cake” but I liked the idea of the bite sized ones I found, here is the recipe: (it made 36....so my co-workers got to try some the next day)


8 tbs melted butter, plus more for greasing the pans
1 1/3 cup sugar, plus more for dusting
14 (!) egg yolks and 1 whole egg (at room temperature)
1 tsp coconut flavouring (I did not have any, so omitted this)
½ tsp vanilla (I used a full tsp)
1 2/3 cups fresh or frozen finely grated coconut, unsweetened (I used a fresh coconut that I cracked and put the meat in my food processor to grate it....to see my new found method of cracking a coconut, check out my Jamaica stop)

                     With a pastry brush, paint inside the molds of 2 mini-muffin pans.
                     Sprinkle sugar over the molds
                     Preheat oven to 350
                     Cream butter and sugar until creamy
                     Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition, the batter should be smooth
                     add coconut and vanilla
                     fold in fresh coconut
                     put each muffin pan inside a baking pan, and almost fill each mold with the coconut batter
                     pour hot water into the larger pans so that the muffin pans are sitting in a water bath, be careful not to splash water into the batter (I placed the pans in the oven before pouring in the water)
                     bake for about 15 minutes, until they are firm to the touch and light golden brown
                     Let cool for 15 minutes (do it for real....if you pull them out to early, they don't hold their shape and you get a pool of custard on your plate....trust me) To remove them, run a knife around the edge to loosen and gently lift them out.


Thursday, 31 January 2013

Oregon


A reminder; when we land in North America, we use the State, Province, Territory or general region. I am full aware that Oregon is not a country!  We were delighted to be in yet another coastal region though....another excuse for a seafood dinner!
I had tried to convince the boys (I include Dad in the term "the boys") that we should do a pioneer, Oregon Trail kind of meal......Shawn said I was only thinking that because of the computer game we played in grade 6, Oregon Trail although he does not know what I'm talking about when I reminisce about this, apparently they did not play this game in Kingston. I loved “buying” things in the store, and trying to get my cattle across the country. He also makes fun of me when I talk about King's Quest; the game I always played on my Grandparent's computer. Does anybody out there know what I'm talking about??
Anyway, they were having nothing to do with beans and biscuits, not when we could dine from the sea.
  
Research showed me that the nut of Oregon is the Hazelnut (98% of the hazelnut production in the US is grown in Oregon) the fruit is pear (although, I came across more references to berries) and the mushroom is chanterelle. OK, I can work with all of this. And round it out with some oysters and mussels.
Using the LCBO website, I found there were 2 stores that had a beer brewed in Oregon on it shelves. The first one I visited could not find the beer. The second one had it; Rogue Ales' Pumpkin Patch Ale. Another location had 3 bottles left of a wine; Evolution by Sokol Blosser Winery.....and it was on sale! After 3 LCBO visits, I had my drinks.

The beer was actually quite nice, I wasn't sure about a pumpkin ale, but I liked it! The wine too was a nice surprise.....I'm developing a taste for white, and this was nice, crisp and refreshing.

The Menu
Appetizer: Oysters on the half shell while sipping on Pumpkin Ale. I even found Kumamoto Oysters, harvested in the Pacific Northwest, USA.....perhaps they even came from Oregon?
The Main: Golden Chanterelle Mushroom Soup and Pumpkin Ale and Shallot mussels
Dessert: Pear & Hazelnut Crisp





The Recipes:

Golden Chanterelle Mushroom Soup
Found the main recipe on cdkitchen.com I'll share that recipe, and make notes of the changes I had to make. The first one being, just how was I supposed to find (and afford!) 1 ¾ pounds of chanterelle mushrooms in Kingston, in January? Instead of the amount called for in this recipe, I used 4 cups sliced mixed mushrooms (oyster, white and cremini) and 2 packages of dried chanterelles. Each package produced about 7oz and cost $4.I don't want to do the math, but I  would have had to buy A LOT of the dried packages to make up 1 ¾ lbs. For the broth, I used the venison broth Shawn made. THAT is a whole other story.....one I'll tell in my other blog........it's coming soon. This soup produced a rich, earthy flavour.

                     ½ cup olive oil (I used about ¼ cup)
                     1 ¾ pounds chanterelle mushrooms
                     ½ pound white mushrooms, chopped
                     2 large celery stalks, chopped
                     2 medium leeks, chopped
                     ½ cup shallots, sliced
                     4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
                     3 quarts strong chicken stock (I used about 6 cups of venison stock & 2 cups of mushroom soaking liquid)
                     3 fresh thyme sprigs, or 1 tsp dried
                     2 bay leaves
                     salt & pepper
                     inner leaves of one bunch of celery, chopped

In a heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan (I used my beautiful new Le Creseut I got for Christmas!) heat olive oil. Add mushrooms, stirring for about 5 minutes. Add celery, leeks, shallots and garlic stirring until all vegetable juice has evaporated and mushrooms start to brown, approximately 15 minutes. Add stock, stir, add thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for 60-90 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool. Blend most of the soup your favourite way (If you don't have a hand held submersible blender, you should ask someone to get you one!) Season with salt & pepper. Garnish with celery leaves.
A side note: we told the boys the soup was made with venison (not a lie......if we told them it was made with mushrooms, they would have said it was yucky) They tasted, and loved! Even after we told them that it was mushroom soup, and the chunks they ate were not venison, they still had seconds!

Pear Hazelnut Crisp
Shawn really likes my apple crisp (and I don't just think he's saying that because he has to) But, my crisp calls for wheat  flour, and he is not eating wheat. This recipe I made up totally on my own, based on my apple crisp recipe, that I probably learned from my Mom.

                     6 pears, peeled and sliced
                     1 cup oats
                     ¾ cup brown sugar
                     ¼ cup rice flour
                     ½ toasted hazelnuts; grind them up in a coffee grinder or food processor until you get a flour like consistency
                     ½ butter, chopped into ½ pieces
                     handful of toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped


Arrange pears in bottom of a baking dish. In another bowl, combine oats, sugar, rice flour and hazelnut flour. With your hands, work the butter in, until you have a nice crumbly “mess” with small bits of butter showing, but all dry ingredients are incorporated. Spread crumble over pears, and sprinkle chopped hazelnuts on top. Bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes, depending on how crunchy (or mushy) you like the pears. A bit of bite to them is nice; the top should be nicely browned.





Thursday, 24 January 2013

Yugoslavia

I was a good high school student. Rarely did I skip class, I always did my homework,  joined clubs (I wasn't much of an athlete; was always given the position of “manager”) and was respectful to my teachers. Much of my behaviour was because of my mother.....I was too afraid of her wrath if I  strayed (those of you who went to high school with me can vouch for all of the above statements, including the one about my mother!) I got pretty good grades, and I worked hard for them. So, I still can't figure out just how I managed to miss the fact that Yugoslavia is no longer a country. I should have learned this is either geography, or at least world issues. Well, I guess the map in the kids room is a few years old!

Researching this meal was a bit challenging, as there is very little on the Internet regarding Yugoslavian cuisine. So we then looked at the 6 countries that make up the old Yugoslavia (Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and M....)  for some inspiration. Here is the menu we put together:
Appetizer: Cevapici with Ajvar the one “classic” Yugoslavian dish I was able to find.
Main Course: Leskovaccka Muchkalica (Pork & Paprika stew)
Dessert: Tufahije (Bosnian Poached Apple)

Even harder than researching the meal, was finding something to drink! After harassing the good folks at 3 different LCBO's (and discovering their on line search engine, complete with inventory and location) I was able to find a wine from both Croatia & Macedonia. I also splurged on a on a treat from Serbia, Stara Sokolova Medovina; a plum & honey liqueur that “strikes a perfect chord between the honey of the Mediteranean and plum brandy. Every sip opens with the bright, natural sweetness of honey and is filled in by the full, fruity base of the underlying spirit” It was very nice with dessert, and I enjoyed another couple of sips in a hot bubble bath days later.

The Recipies

Cevapcici- Basically a skin-less sausage made up of a combination of meats. I found a few different recipes and merged them together to come up with this:
                     1lb ground pork
                     1lb ground beef
(use any combination of meats you'd like, lamb was in many of the recipes I came across)
                     1 minced onion
                     3-4 cloves minced garlic
                     handful of minced fresh parsley
                     1 tsp baking soda
                     1 egg, beaten
                     ½ tsp each: paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt, pepper
Combine all ingredients. Shape the meat into finger like sausages, about 4” long. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Heat some oil in a large non-stick pan. Cook sausages, turning until done. Many recipes called for cooking on the grill, which I would have done if it wasn't winter.
Serve as an appetizer with a side of Ajvar for dipping (which we did) Would also be nice in a pita with the Ajvar, lettuce, onion and sour cream or tzatziki.








Ajvar- this was like a cross between baba ghanoush & roasted red pepper dip

·         2 large eggplants, about 3 pounds 
·         6 large red bell peppers
·         Salt and black pepper
·         1 garlic clove, finely chopped
·         Juice of 1 lemon
·         1/2 cup good-quality olive oil
·         1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley (optional)

Heat oven to 475 degrees. Place washed eggplants and peppers on a baking sheet with a lip to catch any juices, and roast until their skins blister and turn black, about 30 minutes.

Place roasted vegetables in a paper bag and let them steam for 10 minutes.

Peel off and discard blackened skins, stems and seeds. In a large bowl, mash or chop vegetables, depending on how smooth or chunky you like your ajvar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add garlic and lemon juice, and drizzle in oil, stirring constantly.

Transfer to a glass dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley for garnish, if desired. Store covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week.


Tufahije- Bosnian Poasched Apples
I found this recipe on about.com; it is from chef Julia Jaksic, a New York City chef of Croatian-American descent. The dessert is popular in parts of the Balkan where it was introduced during Ottoman rule, but is originally from Persia. Whereever it came from, it sure was delicious! And I got to buy a new kitchen tool to do it right, an apple corer......or as Fin calls it “the apple core gun” How have I lived without this tool?

                     6 golden Deliciuos apples, peeled and cored
                     2 cups suger
                     2 cups water, or enought to cover apples
                     1 tbsp lemin juice
                     ½ cup ground almonds
                     ¼ cup ground hazelnuts (I used pecans, as that what was in the cupboard)
                     2 tsp cinnamon
                     2 tbsp creme fraiche or Greek style yogurt
                     whipped cream

Apples: In a saucepan large enough to hold all the apples, mix together sugar, lemon juice and water. Add apples, weighing them down with a plate on top. Make sure apples are completely covered with liquid. Simmer on medium heat until apples are tender, but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Carefully remove them from the water, and place them on a rack to cool. Reserve the poaching liquid.
Filling: In a medium bowl, stir together nuts, cinnamon and yogurt until smooth. Fill the cooled apples with this mixture.
To serve: Pour reserved poaching liquid over apples, and top with whipped cream. Yum!




















Monday, 14 January 2013

New Zealand


Wow, December can really mess up your routines!! It's been awhile since we've taken a “culinary trip”, and I can't remember where we are supposed to travel to next.  It's been on my mind, but I pushed it aside to go out for another ski over the Christmas holidays (we got the boys skiing!!!) but as we were skiing it came to me, we would do New Zealand! OK, how did I get from skiing (cross country at that) to New Zealand? Well, here's the route I took:



We were getting dressed into our Icebreaker (a wonderful merino wool clothing and base layer company, from you guessed it New Zealand)) and it occurred  to me that my order was due when I returned to work. (for those of you who don't know what I do to earn money, I buy (among other things) for Trailhead, an outdoor store in Kingston) Thinking of work made me think of wine; well at least the bottle of New Zealand wine sitting in the wine rack given to me by my Icebreaker rep. Thinking of that wine made me think of the bag of lamb Shawn received as a birthday present. (That's another story: one of the guys we curled with knew that we liked to cook, and on Shawn's birthday, which fell on a curling night, he presented Shawn with a bag or organic lamb that he raised himself.....really what guy wouldn't love a bag of meat for his birthday?...ok maybe a vegetarian) Anyway, thinking of that lamb and wine reminded me we needed a plan for dinner that night.....and well you can probably put it all together now!
We marinated the lamb in red wine, (not the New Zealand Flying Kiwi, but some home brew given to us by our neighbour)garlic & rosemary.
When researching for this dinner, I learned that Kumara is a staple, and was delighted to learn that Kumara was the Maori word for sweet potato, which we are all a fan of in this house. And we happened to have some (which no one gave or grew for us, theses came from the grocery store) I found a recipe for Kumara Salad. It was a way I had never prepared sweet potato before, and I am happy to report it got rave reviews. The vinegar offsets some of the sweetness, which was quite nice.
The recipe is below. For dessert, I made Pavlova. I know that I had already made this when we were “in” Australia, but considering there is debate as to the origins of this dessert, I thought it fitting to make it again. Besides, it is wheat free, and delicious!!




After the lamb had marinated, Shawn decided to cook it over the open fire......a very yummy choice.

















Kumara Salad
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1” pieces
3 tbs vegetable oil
4 slice of bacon, diced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
¼ sugar
¼ cup parsley

1.Cook sweet potato in boiling water for about 8 minutes, you should be able to stick a fork in them, but still feel some resistance. Drain and cool
2.In a bowl, toss the potatoes with salt, pepper and vegetable oil. Grill them for 3-5 minutes until well browned. (we did them over the fire, if you don't have that, use your BBQ)
3.In a large pan over medium heat, cook bacon until they start to crisp, remove  to paper towels.
4.Pour out about half of the fat, add onions and cook for a couple of minutes, then add garlic and cook for a few more. You don't want anything burnt, just nicely browned, caramelised would be tasty! Remove pan from heat and stir in vinegar, olive oil, sugar and bacon. Salt & pepper to taste.
5.In a large serving dish, place your kumara, and toss with bacon  mixture, sprinkle with parsley and serve!


OK.....blog is written, floor is vacuumed, load of laundry in and there a 4 hours before the kids get off the bus. I'm putting on some Icebreaker and going for a ski!!