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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Moroccan Tour for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy

Last night I had the pleasure of presenting the following recipes for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy.  Jenny Steusser, Education Coordinator for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, presented on the country and history of Morocco and Jody Twomey, Product Consultant for the MLCC, provided excellent beverage pairings.  (pairings added soon!)
These recipes are from Paula Wolfert's, The Food of Morocco.  It is a wonderful cookbook and an essential part of any kitchen.

1. Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup

1 yellow onion, chopped
pinch coarse salt
1 1/2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs butternut, kabocha, or calabaza squash halved, peeled and seeded and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks (about 6 cups)
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp La Kama Spice Mixture (1 tsp each of ground ginger, turmeric and white pepper, good pinch of grated nutmeg, 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon and optional cubeb pepper)
1/2 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche
1/2 lb crumbled chevre
1 tsp or more to taste Harissa paste (available at Halal Meats and Specialty Foods or Dino's Grocery Mart)
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook onion in heavy bottomed pot or casserole dish (tajine) on medium low heat with the olive oil until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes
2. Add the squash, cover with parchment paper and/lid and cook for 20 minutes.
3. Add tomato paste, spices and 4 cups of hot water and bring to a boil. Then simmer until the squash is tender, about 20+ minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Blend in batches or with an immersion blender until smooth. Add the cream and 3.4 or the cheese and the harissa at the end. Puree until velvety.
5. Bring up to heat and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve into warmed bowls and top each portion with a light sprinkling of the remaining cheese.


2. Eggplant Salad, Rabat Style

1 eggplant
1 clove garlic, peeled and slivered
2 tbs chopped parsley
2 sprigs cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbs olive oil (or less)
1-2 tbs lemon juice
pinch salt

Stud the eggplant with garlic slivers, using a pairing knife to cut slits into the eggplant. Bake at 400ºF until very soft. Remove from oven to cool when darkened and "collapsed".

When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the flesh of the eggplant into a sieve. Discard liquid and skin of eggplant.

Mash or push the eggplant and garlic through a food mill (avoid a blender as it won't give you the desired effect).

Add the chopped herbs and spices and mix well. Fry in the olive oil over moderate heat, turning often until all of the liquid has evaporated and the eggplant has been reduced to a thick black jam, about 15 - 20 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and salt. Serve warm or slightly cooled.

Try with grape tomatoes and good toasted pita bread.


3. Chicken Tajine with prunes and almonds

1 chicken – (3 1/2 lbs)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup prunes
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup whole blanched almonds
vegetable oil for frying

Rub all the chicken pieces with salt, pepper and cumin. Let stand for one hour.

Soak prunes if very dry.

Place onions in a wide shallow casserole with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 cup water, cover and steam for 15 minutes.

Brown the almonds in 4-5 tbs oil in a large skillet and drain on paper towels. Brown the chicken evenly on all sides in the oil and transfer to the steamed onions. Cover with parchment paper and cook in tajine on the lowest heat for about 1 1/4 hours.

Discard the parchment paper. Add the prunes and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from the heat. Serve with almonds sprinkled on top.

4. Moroccan Lamb Stew

1 lb elk roast, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 tbs ras el hanout
1-2 tbs olive oil
1-2 tbs butter
good pinch saffron
2 large tomatoes, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 green peppers, seeded and diced
1/2 - 1 cup prunes
2-3 tbs honey
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup red wine
salt, to taste

Slowly sauté onions on medium-low heat with olive oil until they begin to caramelize. Stir in Ras el Hanout spice blend. Turn up heat to medium-high and add butter and saffron. Brown meat well on all sides and add tomatoes and other vegetables. Add broth, prunes and honey. Add red wine and salt and let simmer for 1-2 hours, depending on using the tajine and toughness of the meat. Meat should melt in your mouth when done.

Serve with flat breads, rice, couscous or bulgur.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tantalizingly Tasty Tapas for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy

Last night I had the pleasure of presenting the following Tapas recipes for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy with the MLCC.  Bonnie Tulloch, Education Coordinator for the APC, discussed the plants featured from the region and Scott Strizic, Product Consultant for the MLCC, prepared a wonderful welcome beverage and pairings for each dish.
Welcome Beverage:  Agua de Valencia, made with Cava
200ml Orange Juice
50ml gin
50ml Vodca
700 ml Cava
pinch sugar

In a pitcher, add bottle of semi-dry Cava (or Champagne if you do not have Cava).  Add a shot and a half of both vodka and gin.  Add sugar to taste.  Chill and enjoy!

1. Sautéed garlic mushrooms
Paired with Flor de Vetus (Spain), $16.26

1 lb white mushrooms
5 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper
4 tbs flat leaf parsley, chopped
crusty bread

Trim off stems of mushrooms. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds- 1 minute, or until lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and sauté over high heat, stirring until the mushrooms have absorbed the oil in the skillet

Reduce the heat to low. When the juices have come out of the mushrooms, increase the heat again and sauté for 4-5 minutes until the juices have almost evaporated. Add lemon juice and season. Stir in parsley and cook for an additional minute.

Serve hot or warm with crusty bread.

2. Spanish Smoked Paprika Shrimp
Paired with Mas Amor - Rose, $16.26

1 lb peeled, wild caught shrimp
1 tbs butter
Drizzle olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
Pinch sea salt

Heat butter and oil in sauté pan. Add shrimp and toss well. Add garlic and then paprika. Serve with bread when shrimp is firm and pink. 

3. Calamares with no-fail Aïoli
Paired with Martin Codax - Albarino, $21.60

1 lb prepared squid (calamari rings, etc)
all-purpose flour for coating
corn, peanut or canola oil for deep-frying
lemon wedges, to garnish
aïoli, to serve

Dry squid and dust with flour. Do not season as the salt will toughen the calamares. Heat oil to 350 – 375º. Carefully add the rings in batches and deep fry for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oil and place on paper towels. Enjoy with aïoli.

1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 tbs white wine vinegar or lemon juice
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
salt and pepper
5 tbs extra virgin olive oil
5 tbs canola oil

Put the egg yolk, vinegar, garlic and salt and pepper in a food processor and blend well together. Slowly add the olive oil with the blade turning. When it starts to thicken, add more oil and blend until it is thick and smooth.

4. Potato wedges with roasted garlic dip
Paired with Fortius Grand Reserva 2001, $27.12 (YUM!)

3 lb potatoes
2 tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tsp salt

Roasted Garlic Dip

2 garlic bulbs, roasted
1 tbs olive oil
5 tbs sour cream
4 tbs mayonnaise
hot smoked paprika, to taste

Roast the garlic for 25 minutes at 350ºF until caramelized. Let cool enough to handle. Squeeze out and mash. Mix in a bowl with the sour cream and mayonnaise. Season with salt and paprika. Chill.

For the potatoes, cut each potato half into 3 wedges and place in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, garlic and salt and toss well. Transfer to a roasting pan and arrange in a single layer. Roast for 1- 1/14 hours, or until crisp and golden.

Serve immediately with roasted garlic dip.


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Around the World in 4 Dishes with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC

Last night I had the pleasure of presenting the following dishes for the Assinboine Park Conservancy Foodie Night with the MLLL (formerly MLCC) under the theme, Around the world in Four Dishes.  APC Education Coordinator, Bonnie Tulloch presented on the plants from the different regions represented and MLLL Product Consultant, Kelly Burton prepared the beverage pairings.

The Lamb Tajine is an adaptation from Paula Wolfert's, The Food of Morocco.

We started with a lovely Summer Sangria:
1 bottle Red Wine
200ml pomegranate Brandy (Wonderful variety from Ontario under the label Persian)
200ml Brandy
orange and lemon slices, lime juice, strawberries
1/2 cup simple syrup (1 cup sugar, 1 cup water warmed on the stove until the sugar dissolves)
1 can Ginger Ale
 Chill and serve 

1. Guacamole and Grilled Pineapple salsa  with corn tortillas
Simple Guacamole
Paired with Gazella Vinho Verde, #3416, $9.99

1-2 ripe Avocados
Lime or lemon juice
Green onions
Chopped Tomatoes

Cut Avocado in half and with a heavy knife, cut into the seed and remove from fruit. Scoop out avocado from peel into a bowl and mash with lime or lemon juice, a few pinches of salt. Add any or all of the options and serve with tortillas.

Grilled Pineapple Salsa

1 pineapple, cored then grilled, then chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, roasted whole over grill then chopped
1 ear corn, roasted or 1 cup pan fried
1/2 cup cooked black beans
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground chipotle peppers
1/2 cup chopped or pureed tomatoes
salt, to taste
2 tbs brown sugar
2-4 tbs vinegar
drizzle olive oil
3 tbs fresh chopped mint

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Refrigerate and enjoy with tortillas or in your favourite dish.  Try with fish tacos.  Excellent local corn tortillas are available at Dino's Grocery Mart on Notre Dame.

2. Kerala Shrimp
Paired with Patisserie Chardonnay/Muscat, #15997, $13.99
1/4 kg small shrimp
1 tsp ground chilies
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp vinegar

1 tbs cooking oil (grapeseed oil or canola so as to not add flavour)
1 large onion, chopped
a few curry leaves
1/4 tsp. paprika or chili powder (depending on how spicy you like the food)
1 tsp coconut oil (optional)

Clean and marinate shrimp in chilies, turmeric and vinegar at least 1/2 hour before cooking.

Heat oil in pan and sauté onion until golden brown. Remove from oil and set aside. Fry the shrimp in the same oil until crispy. Then add the fried onion, curry leaves and optional paprika or chili powder on low heat. Add the coconut oil for good Keralan flavour. Test for salt and serve with rice, roti or chappati, etc.

3. Patliçan yogürtlü (Turkish eggplant dish)
Paired with Sibling Rivalry White VQA, #126144, $13.95
1 lg eggplant sliced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 c plain yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt

Slice and salt eggplant and let sit in a bowl of cold water. If eggplant is very young, skip the step of salt and water. Rinse and squeeze out water from slices.

Mince garlic and stir into yoghurt with salt.

Sauté eggplant slices on medium high heat until golden brown on both sides. Remove from pan and let sit for a moment on a paper towel. Place on platter and top with yoghurt mixture. Sprinkle rubbed oregano and paprika over yoghurt. Top with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with baguette slices or water crackers.

4. Lamb Tajine
Paired with Sister's Run Cows Corner, #15966, $16.99 (surprisingly wonderful white pepper notes!)
1 lb lamb shoulder, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 tbs ras el hanout
1-2 tbs olive oil
1-2 tbs butter
good pinch saffron
2 large
tomatoes, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 green peppers, seeded and diced
1/2 - 1 cup prunes
2-3 tbs honey
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup red wine
salt, to taste

Slowly sauté onions on medium-low heat with olive oil until they begin to caramelize. Stir in Ras el Hanout spice blend. Turn up heat to medium-high and add butter and saffron. Brown meat well on all sides and add tomatoes and other vegetables. Add broth, prunes and honey. Add red wine and salt and let simmer for 1-2 hours, depending on using the tajine and toughness of the meat. Meat should melt in your mouth when done.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Banana Blossom Thoren

Bonus recipe for tomorrow's guests at Madison Square MLCC for the Assiniboine Park Conservatory.

If you have stomach problems, Banana Blossom (flower) Thoren is an Ayurvedic cure.

1 Banana blossom
2-3 Small onions
3 cloves Garlic
1 Green chili
1 Dried red chili
½ cup Coconut
¼ tsp Turmeric powder
½ tsp Cumin powder
Curry leaves
Coconut oil
Mustard seed

Slice the small onions.
Grind together, coconut, green chilly, garlic, 1-2 curry leaves, turmeric powder, cumin powder.
Remove the outer hard leaves of banana flower until you see the lighted colored part.
Wash it well, and chop it , and mix it well with little coconut oil keep aside.
Slice the small onions and garlic.

Heat oil in a pan.
Add mustard seed, add onion once the it is spluttered.
Add dried chilly and curry leaves.
Add chopped banana flower, salt and sauté well
Add very little water and cook for 4-5 minutes.
Group it together and pour the grounded paste on top.
Before mixing the ground paste, close it with a lid and and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Mix it well after and keep in low flame for few minutes.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Saturday on CBC's Weekend Morning Show - Squash Köfte and a taste of Spring

I am presenting the following recipes tomorrow on CBC' Weekend Morning Show with host Terry MacLeod.  

Easy to prepare in advance and a taste of Spring all year round if portions are frozen.  The Köfte were a big hit with vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike at my restaurant.  Try with Quinoa instead of Bulgur if looking to be gluten-free.
(photos after Saturday)

Squash Köfte

1 small squash, about 2 ¼ lbs (baked and scooped out of skin)
3 tbs olive oil
1 red onion, finely diced
1 tbs Harissa
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
9 ounces medium-fine bulgur
generous pinch salt
1 egg
(optional, 1 tbs Turkish Baharat)

Sauté onion, pepper paste and spices in olive oil until softened over a low heat for about 15 minutes.

When pumpkin is scooped out, puree or mash.  Add to onion and spice mixture. 

Rinse bulgur and add to the squash mixture.  Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.  Mix in eggs and then cool.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  On a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet, form squash mixture into oblong patties.  Bake until firm, about 15 minutes.  Cool.   At this point, the köfte can be wrapped and frozen for future use.

In a pan, heat olive oil and fry köfte until crispy.  Serve with grilled vegetable on flatbread with a yoghurt tahini sauce.


Pea Shoot Pesto
1/4 lb fresh, young pea shoots (or pea tips!)*
1 bunch chives, chopped (or spring onion)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or almonds)

Place the pea shoots, chives, garlic, cheese, olive oil, pine nuts salt and pepper in a food processor or blender, pulse until a thick paste forms.
Enjoy with pasta, fish or other pesto uses.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Pickerel with Pernod - an adaptation of an excellent Turkish Fish recipe

I made this for dinner for Desmond last night.  Not able to get Raki here in Winnipeg any longer, I used Pernod as it isn't as sweet as Ouzo or Sambuca yet has the flavours needed.   Quite delicious.   I'll remember to take a photo next time.

Why am I posting this now?  Gorgeous pickerel is in season until March 31st.  The sweetness of the fish makes it so versatile for so many cooking methods and recipes.

Pickerel with Raki (Pernod)  
4 filets pickerel
2 tomatoes, grated
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbs Turkish Baharat *
1/2 cup (less) olive oil
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup fish stock
salt and white pepper, to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 bunch dill
2 tsp raki (Ouzo)

Heat skillet and sauté the garlic and add the onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add bay leaves and Turkish Baharat. Add the vegetables, pour over the stock and simmer for 2 minutes. 

Season the fish with salt and pepper and place on top of the vegetables. Simmer for about 4 minutes. Chop the dill. Add lemon juice, chopped dill and raki and simmer for about 2 minutes. Arrange the fish and vegetables on a serving dish and serve immediately.
*Turkish Baharat now available at Pollocks Hardware Coop.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Spring will be Sprung. Pickerel and Spring on CBC's Weekend Morning Show

 Tomorrow morning after the 8:30AM news, I will be presenting the following dishes on CBC's Weekend Morning Show with host Terry Macleod.

I chose these recipes for a few key reasons.  First, the Winter Pickerel season ends on March 31st so get them now!  These sweet, pink fillets are delicious and very versatile.  Second, these recipes are very simple to make at home and since the ingredients are so close to home, even easier.   Third, whether observing Lent or celebrating Spring and the Vernal Equinox, these recipes fit.

Enjoy!  Spring will come. (photos tomorrow).
(Prepping parchment paper fish, photo by Karen Peters)

Parchment Paper Fish
Per Fillet:
1 fillet Pickerel – now on sale at Gimli Fish
1/2 carrot, peeled and then peeled into strips
1-2 spears asparagus, in ribbons or sliced on a bias
pinch sea salt
pepper to taste
3-5 basil leaves, chiffonade (or pesto)
parchment paper
spray olive oil*

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Place fish on top of very lightly oiled parchment paper. Place basil, carrot, asparagus and pinch of salt and pepper on top of fish. Lightly spray with olive oil. Seal paper and place in oven or on top of grill for up to 20 minutes in the oven, depending on thickness of fillet. If using a BBQ, place fish on upper level and not directly over the heat. The fish is so delicate. Paper will puff up. Remove and serve immediately.

Pickerel Fillet Fish Tacos
Serves 2

2 pickerel fillets
juice of 1-2 limes
1/4 - 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
pinch sea salt
1 chopped jalepeno (I used dried chipotle chilies)

Marinade the fish in the juice and spices for at least 20 minutes.

1 thinly sliced red onion (I caramelized it)
sour cream
1-2 thinly sliced green onion (cut on the bias for thinner slices and nicer presentation)
Sour cream or crema
Warmed corn tortillas (toasted for a few minutes)

Prepare all of the dishes for the taco and then sauté the fish in a bit of olive or canola oil, 1 -2 minutes per side. Remove fish from heat and flake. Assemble tacos and enjoy!