The Friday Five – November 12th, 2010

12 11 2010

A weekly round up food and drink-related news stories:

1.  On a hot day, have you ever thought to yourself, “I could really go for an ice-cold glass of bacon right now?”  If so, you’re going to love the newest flavour of soda from Jones Soda and J&D Foods. (aol news)

2.  This amazing stop-motion animation video by Ok Go makes me realize that my plain brown morning toast is pretty boring. (Chow.com)

3.  If you’ve ever had a hankering for some fresh crabmeat while taking the subway, you’re in luck if you live in China where live crabs are now for sale in vending machines.  (Boing Boing)

4.  A new species of lizard was discovered at a buffet in Vietman – as one of the entrees. (Eatocracy)

5.  Wendy’s is trying to appeal to ‘foodies’ by giving their fries a makeover: leaving the skins on and sprinkling them with sea salt. This reminds me of an old episode of The Simpsons in which the Malibu Stacy toy company tricks eight-year old girls into thinking they’ve released a new doll by putting a hat on it.  (Yahoo, Wikipedia)

Have a great weekend!

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Mussels with Leek-Cream Sauce

11 11 2010

Mussels make an easy, versatile and inexpensive meal.

A feast of mussels is one of the cheapest and easiest meals you can make.  For less than $10 and 15 minutes of your time, you can have a big pile of tasty mussels to share.  Serve with fresh bread or toast to mop up the delicious sauce.

Preparing Mussels for Cooking

Many of the mussels found in Canada and the U.S. come from Prince Edward Island. They should be easy to find at fish markets and the fish department of most grocery stores. They’re very easy to cook, however, there are a few guidelines to follow for safe handling:

  • Discard any mussels with cracked or broken shells.
  • Rinse the mussles in cold water and pluck off any ‘beards’ that are present on the shell. The ‘beard’ is a moss-like growth that keeps the mussel attached when it is growing in the water. Soak the mussels for about 15 minutes in a large bowl of cold water to ensure they are clean and free of grit.
  • Make sure all mussel shells are tightly closed before cooking. If a shell is slightly open, give it a light tap on a hard surface – if it doesn’t close up, the mussel may be dead and it should be discarded.
  • Mussels need to steam for about 10 minutes to fully cook and their shells will open once they’re done. Inspect cooked mussels before serving and throw away any that do not open. Do not force closed shells open – this is an indication that the mussel is dead and may cause illness if consumed.

Mussels in a Leek Cream Sauce

Makes about 50 mussels

This recipe should make plenty for two to four people (depending on whether it’s a starter or main).  You can easily double or triple the recipe if you have a big enough pot.

  • 2 lbs. (907 g) mussels, cleaned and inspected (see instructions above)
  • 4 medium or 3 large leeks, white and light green parts only
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or safflower
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Chopped thyme or parsley to garnish – optional
  1. Trim the leeks of any roots and tough green tops. Slice them lengthwise down the middle and run under cold water to ensure any sand is rinsed from their layers. Pat the leeks dry and cut into thin ‘rings’, about ¼” thick.
  2. In a large stockpot with a lid, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the chopped leeks and let cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and let cook for another minute, stirring occasionally.
  3. Pour in the wine and stir the tomato paste into the mixture until thoroughly combined. Dump in the cleaned mussels.
  4. Put the lid on the pot and let the mussels steam for 10 minutes. Check on them after 10 minutes and if a lot of the shells are still closed, let them steam for another 2 minutes.
  5. Remove pot lid and stir in the cream. Discard any shells that haven’t opened. Season with salt and pepper and pour the mussels and sauce into a large bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley or thyme if desired.
  6. Serve the mussels with fresh toast or bread to mop up the sauce or with homemade frites, if you’re feeling ambitious.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.





Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Wrapped with Prosciutto

10 11 2010

Slices of stuffed pork tenderloin, served with risotto and garnished with fresh sage

Pork pairs very well with hearty herbs such as sage and thyme, making it the perfect choice for autumn dinners. Unfortunately, pork tenderloin is very lean and can tend to be dry if overcooked.  Stuffing it with a flavourful filling and wrapping it in thin slices of prosciutto will help keep it moist and delicious.

Preparing a pork tenderloin for stuffing is very easy:

  • Lay the tenderloin on a piece of plastic wrap on the counter. Using a sharp knife, slice lengthwise down the middle of the tenderloin, cutting about ¾ of the way through the meat (do not slice it entirely in half).
  • Open the slit as though opening a book. Make another similar slit down the middle of the left side and repeat again on the right. There will be three cuts down the loin in total.
  • Spread open the loin and place a piece of plastic wrap on top. Using a heavy meat mallet, pound the tenderloin until it is of uniform thickness, about 3/4“ thick. The pork is now ready to be stuffed and rolled.

A Helpful Tip: To secure the stuffed and rolled pork loin, break off a couple of pieces of raw dry spaghetti. Use the spaghetti like toothpicks to hold the meat in place. Insert into the meat and snap off any extra length that is poking out. The spaghetti will cook along with the pork and no one will notice it. It’s much safer than leaving toothpicks in!

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Wrapped with Prosciutto

Serves 4 to 6

Stuffing:

  • 1 Tablespoon neutral oil such as canola or safflower
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 3 slices white bread, crusts trimmed and cut into ½” cubes
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine (optional)
  • 5 swiss chard leaves, chopped (about 1 cup of chopped chard)
  • 1 slice prosciutto, cut into small dice
  • ¼ cup (packed) shredded mozzarella or smoked mozzarella

Pork:

  • 1 lb. (450 grams) whole pork tenderloin
  • 4 to 5 slices prosciutto, sliced paper-thin
  • 1 piece dry spaghetti
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons oil
  • 2 large pieces of plastic wrap
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. To make stuffing: In a large skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon of oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add bread cubes and toast for 1 minute. Add herbs and cook for another minute.
  3. Pour in chicken stock and wine. Add swiss chard and cook until the chard goes limp, about 2 minutes. Stir mixture and continue to cook for a couple of minutes, until all liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Remove stuffing from the heat. Stir in diced prosciutto and mozzarella. Set mixture aside until ready to stuff the pork (stuffing can be made in advance and refrigerated up to 24 hours).
  5. To Prepare Pork: Slice open and pound out pork between sheets of plastic wrap as detailed above (‘Preparing a pork tenderloin for stuffing’).
  6. Lay the prepared pork flat and spoon the stuffing in a line down the middle. Roll up the tenderloin and secure with pieces of dry spaghetti (see ‘A Helpful Tip’, above) or toothpicks.
  7. Wrap the entire tenderloin with prosciutto slices. Pour 1-1/2 Tablespoons oil on the bottom of a baking sheet and place the tenderloin on the sheet.
  8. Roast pork for about 30 minutes or until the meat is just faintly pink when sliced into. Let cool slightly and slice. Serve with roast potatoes, rice or risotto. Garnish each serving with a sprig of fresh sage.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.





The Friday Five – November 5th, 2010

5 11 2010

A weekly round up food and drink-related news stories:

1. Attention Tim Horton’s and Krispy Kreme lovers!  Now you can protect and transport your treats with the Japanese-designed ‘Doughnut-to-Go‘. (Toronto Star)

2. Do you or your kids still have lots of Halloween candy?  Perhaps these amazing creations will inspire you to use up what’s left over. (Lemondrop)

3. Some guys in Montreal have created a monstrosity they’re calling ‘The World’s Greasiest Sandwich’.  It has 5,343 calories and includes such delicacies as an entire package of bacon, a large order of poutine and three hot dogs. (Toronto Star)

4. Apparently Domino’s Pizza in Japan is hiring someone to work part-time for $31,000 an hour.  Sounds like my kind of job… (Montreal Gazette)

5. It’s for more than making popcorn: Fourteen uses for your microwave that may surprise you. (Real Simple)

Don’t forget that Daylight Savings Time comes to an end this weekend so set your clocks back an hour Saturday night.

Have a great weekend!

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Stuffed Butternut Squash

2 11 2010

Butternut squash can be stuffed to make an elegant vegetarian dish

My brother-in-law Dan is a vegetarian so I’m always trying to come up with interesting dishes so he’ll have something special to enjoy at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I enjoy the challenge and it encourages those of us who eat meat to try some new dishes as well.  I made this butternut squash stuffed with wild rice and herbs last year and it was a hit.  It makes quite a bit so you should have plenty to serve as either a vegetarian main course or as a side dish.  It is delicious with pork, chicken or turkey. I can easily be adapted for vegans- just follow the substitutions at the end of the recipe.

Stuffed Butternut Squash

(VEGETARIAN)

Makes about 8 to 10 servings as a side dish or 4 to 6 servings as a main course

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 2 teaspoons neutral oil such as safflower

Stuffing:

  • ½ cup raw wild rice
  • ½ cup raw white rice
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ medium onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup red pepper, finely diced (about ½ a large pepper)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter OR margarine OR oil such as safflower or olive
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Using a large sharp knife, cut the butternut squash lengthwise down the middle and separate the two halves.
  3. Scoop out any seeds and discard. Rub each half of the squash with the oil (1 teaspoon per half). Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until tender. Check tenderness with a sharp knife – it should be soft enough to scoop out with ease.
  4. While the squash is roasting, prepare the stuffing ingredients. In a large saucepan, heat 2 cups vegetable stock until boiling. Add wild rice, cover tightly. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes. Add white rice to the pot and continue to cook the rice mixture for another 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and the stock has been absorbed.
  5. In a large bowl, add onion, red pepper, garlic, sage, rosemary and thyme. Once the rice mixture has cooked, add it as well.
  6. Remove baked squash from the oven and let cool slightly. Using a large spoon, carefully scoop the flesh out of the baked squash halves, making sure to leave about ¾” of a ‘wall’ intact so the shells will hold together. Add the scooped squash to the rice/stuffing bowl.
  7. Stir the cooked squash into the rice stuffing mixture until it is thoroughly combined. Add melted butter and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Scoop the stuffing mixture back into the squash halves. Top each half with parmesan cheese or bread crumbs (1/4 cup per half).
  9. Bake stuffed squash for 20 minutes or until the cheese is beginning to brown on top. Garnish with a sprig of sage if desired.

*Vegan Adaptation:

Substitute vegan-friendly margarine, olive oil or neutral oil (canola, safflower, etc) for the melted butter. Top with ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs that have been tossed with 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh chopped herbs. Bake stuffed squash for 20 minutes or until crumbs begin to brown.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This recipe first appeared on Suite 101.com.

Stuffed Butternut Squash, garnish with a sprig of fresh sage





Penne with Sausage and Fennel Seed

1 11 2010

Penne with sausage and fennel seed

I can’t believe it’s already November!  It seems like just yesterday I was excited about the first chives of spring peeking out of my herb pot.  Now most of the farmers’ markets are done for the year and there is the possibility of snow in many areas (in fact, it snowed in Eastern Canada yesterday!).  However, there is still a lot of seasonal cooking we can do and as we get cozy, our menus become more hearty and warming.

This easy pasta dish is rich and filling but you can use evaporated milk in place of cream to lighten the sauce a bit.  Lean sausages also work but make sure not to overcook them or they will become dry.  You can also use whole wheat penne instead of white if you’d prefer.  It’s perfect after a vigorous autumn hike or day of raking leaves.

Penne with Sausage and Fennel Seed

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 5 mild or sweet Italian sausages
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • A 14 oz. (398 ml) can of tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup evaporated milk or cream
  • Pinch of sugar, to taste (optional – if tomatoes are very acidic)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 500 g (1 lb.) dried penne or rigatoni
  • Parmesan cheese, to garnish (optional)
  1. In a large deep skillet or enameled cast iron pot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and sauté until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
  2. Slice the skins of the sausages lengthwise down the middle and remove the meat from their casings. Discard the casings. Add the sausage meat to the pot and use a spatula or spoon to break up the meat. Add garlic, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes.
  3. Cook sausage mixture on medium-high until just browned, about 7 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  4. Add tomatoes and break up with a spoon. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until some of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in tomato paste until thoroughly combined.
  5. Add evaporated milk or cream and stir into sauce. Let sauce simmer for 5 more minutes. Season to taste with a pinch of sugar (optional – use if the tomatoes are very acidic), salt and pepper. Keep warm on low heat while the penne cooks.
  6. In a separate large pot with a lid, heat water to cook the penne. Bring to a boil and cook penne until al dente, according to package instructions, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  7. Drain penne and toss with sauce until thoroughly coated. Garnish with parmesan cheese if desired.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.