Farmers’ Market Report – June 5th, 2011

5 06 2011

The first day of the 2011 East Lynn Farmers' Market, Toronto

The farmers’ markets are underway for another year! Last week marked the launch of weekly farmers’ markets in Toronto. While there are a handful of markets that run through the year, the pickings tend to be slim between December and April. Now that there is locally-grown produce available, we can enjoy getting it straight from the farmers for the next five months or so. For a list of Ontario markets, check out Farmers’ Markets Ontario. (If you live elsewhere, a quick google search should point you in the right direction).

There isn’t a whole lot available right now but things should pick up considerably in about a month. Here were some of the highlights of this week’s markets:

Asparagus

Asparagus at its peak

It’s June and that means asparagus is at its peak! It seems to be a very good year for asparagus – the spears have been sweet and flavourful. The tables at the market Saturday morning were piled high with bundles of asparagus of various thickness (I prefer thicker ones but many people enjoy the delicate thin spears). It’s extremely versatile and can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I whipped up a simple egg white omelet for lunch the other day and threw in some steamed spears (see Asparagus 101 for cooking tips). I added some chopped ham, finely diced onion, chopped chives and a tiny bit of cheddar cheese. Served with a simple green salad, it was the perfect spring lunch. Eggs pair very well with asparagus: try a Crustless Asparagus Quiche. It can be dressed up with a bit of ham, cooked crab or lobster, your favourite herbs, different cheeses (swiss is nice) or diced red peppers.

A simple egg white omelet filled with steamed asparagus, fat-free ham, diced onions, chives and a bit of cheese is easy, nutritious and delicious.

Strawberries

Ontario strawberries are finally in season!

I was excited to finally see strawberries at the market. They are a little bit late this year, likely because of the cool, damp weather we had for most of May. The few I tried were on the tart side but still had more flavour than imported berries. As the weather warms up, hopefully the berries in coming weeks will be a little sweeter. For breakfast, I like to add a few sliced strawberries to my cereal. If you’re feeling a little more decadent in the morning, Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce are sure to be a hit.

Rhubarb

There was no shortage of rhubarb at the markets this week. It’s a bit of an acquired taste (I know quite a few people who don’t care for it) but properly sweetened, it can be quite refreshing. Vanilla Cheesecake with Rhubarb-Ginger Compote is a great make-ahead dessert for a spring meal. Or start your evening off with a rhubarb-based cocktail such as a Springtime Kir or a Rhubarb Refresher.

Onions and Herbs

There were a few fresh herbs available this week, including mint which pairs beautifully with strawberries in Strawberry Mojitos. I also saw garlic scapes and picked up a few baby onions. Chives are also starting to blossom (in my herb pot – I didn’t see any at the market) and are delicious in stir-fries or coated in a tempura batter and fried: Chive Tempura Blossoms.

Chive blossoms: pretty and edible!

Bon Appétit and Happy Marketing!

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Vanilla Cheesecake with Rhubarb-Ginger Compote

30 05 2011

Rhubarb at the market

The first local fruit to hit the markets where I live is rhubarb. After a long winter of apples, apples and more apples, it’s refreshing to see something new. Rhubarb is remarkably versatile and can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes. In desserts, it pairs very well with ginger, vanilla and of course, strawberrries.

Cheesecake is always a popular dessert and is a great choice for entertaining because it can be made in advance. It’s also surprisingly easy; don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe, it’s very simple if you take it step-by-step. Be sure to use a springform pan so you can easily remove and cut the finished cake.

Once strawberries come into season, you can always add a few to the rhubarb compote (a compote is basically a sweetened fruit sauce). Try a ratio of half strawberries and half rhubarb and sweeten to taste.  The cheesecake base is pretty neutral so you can top with other favourite fruit sauces if desired.

Vanilla Cheesecake with Rhubarb-Ginger Compote

Makes one 9″ cheesecake

Crust:

  • 5 oz. (140 g) gingersnap cookies (hard ones, not chewy ginger cookies) – will yield about 1-1/2 cups of crumbs
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a food processor*, pulse the gingersnaps until they become fine crumbs. (*if you don’t have a food processor, place the cookies in a sturdy bag and crush until fine with a rolling pin or wine bottle). You should have about 1-1/2 cups of crumbs. Place the crumbs into a medium bowl.
  3. Melt the butter (it can be done in the microwave in about 45 to 60 seconds). Pour into the gingersnap crumbs and stir until the crumbs are completely coated.
  4. Press the crumb-butter mixture into the bottom of the springform pan, making sure it’s in an even layer.
  5. Bake the crust for five minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool while preparing the cream cheese filling.

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 3 X 8 oz. (250 grams) packages of cream cheese (regular, not low-fat), at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (regular, not low-fat)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • The seeds from one vanilla bean (split the bean in half lengthwise with a sharp knife and scrape out the tiny seeds. Discard the empty pod)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs
  1. With a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, vanilla, vanilla bean seeds and salt until smooth.  Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  2. Turn the beater speed to low and add the eggs one at a time. Mix until smooth. Tip: Crack the eggs, one at a time, into a separate bowl before adding to the batter to ensure no shell pieces get into the filing.
  3. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the crust. Bake the cheesecake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until just set in the centre, about 40 to 50 minutes.
  4. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool slightly. Refrigerate for at least three hours before serving.
  5. To serve: Top with rhubarb compote (see recipe, below). Run a knife between the pan and the edge of the cake to loosen it before unhinging the springform pan.

Rhubarb-Ginger Compote:

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1-1/2 lbs. (24 oz. / 680 grams) rhubarb (before leaves and roots are trimmed), will yield about 4 cups of rhubarb once trimmed and cut up
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar (or more/less, to taste)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch + 2 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  1. Trim any leaves and root ends from the rhubarb and discard. Chop the stalks into 1/2″ chunks.
  2. Place the rhubarb pieces into a medium saucepan. Add the water and bring to a gentle simmer on medium heat.
  3. Cook until the fruit begins to soften, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the sugar, salt, ginger and vanilla. Stir to combine and continue to simmer until the rhubarb is completely soft. Use a large spoon or potato masher to crush the fruit.
  4. In a cup, add the cornstarch and water and mix well until smooth. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the rhubarb mixture and turn heat to medium-high.
  5. Cook until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the butter until melted. Remove from the heat and let the compote cool completely before using. Extra sauce will keep in the fridge for a few days.
  6. To finish the cheesecake: Spoon the cooled rhubarb compote over the cheesecake, spreading it in an even layer. Serve extra sauce on the side.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Vanilla cheesecake with rhubarb-ginger compote and a gingersnap crust

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





Seafood Salad with Avocado-Buttermilk Dressing

25 05 2011

Shellfish at the market

As the weather warms up, many of us are looking for fresh meal ideas. A simple salad of chilled seafood topped with an easy avocado and buttermilk dressing makes an elegant lunch or light dinner. It can also be served in smaller portions as a starter course. Many fish markets sell lobster, shrimp and crab that have already been cooked which makes this a snap to pull together. Make sure you select an avocado that is very ripe – I often plan ahead and buy my avocados a few days before I need them because the ones at my local store are usually under ripe and as hard as rocks.

About Buttermilk

Traditionally, buttermilk was the liquid that was left after making butter. Today, most buttermilk sold in supermarkets is made by adding lactic acid bacteria culture to pasteurized milk. Buttermilk is tangier tasting and slightly thicker than regular milk. Full-fat and lower-fat options are available in the dairy section of most grocery stores and it is sometimes sold as a powder in the baking section. However, if buttermilk is not available, a decent substitute is to stir one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice into one cup of milk. Let the mixture sit for five minutes and stir until smooth. Sour cream or plain yogurt will also work – mix with a small amount of milk to thin it.

Seafood Salad with Avocado Dressing

Makes 4 light servings

  • About 16 oz. cooked seafood such as lobster, shrimp or crab (or a mix of all three)
  • 4 cups butter lettuce leaves
  • 20 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • Fresh chopped chives as garnish
  • Dressing (see below)

Avocado-Buttermilk Dressing:

  • 1 very ripe avocado
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 6 Tablespoons 1% buttermilk (or buttermilk substitute – see above)
  • 3 Tablespoons Hellman’s or Best Foods style mayonnaise – regular or light
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons chopped chives
  • Very finely diced shallot
  • Salt, to taste

To Make Dressing:

  1. Cut the avocado lengthwise through the middle and pull the two halves apart. Remove the pit and discard. Scoop the avocado into the bowl of a food processor or processor cup of a hand blender.
  2. Add the garlic, buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, cider vinegar and two teaspoons of the chives to the avocado. Puree the mixture until smooth.
  3. Transfer dressing to a bowl and stir in the remaining chives, diced shallot and season with salt to taste.
  4. Use as a dip or dressing. It will keep covered in the fridge for a couple of days.

Plating the Salads:

  1. Place a bed of lettuce on each of four salad plates or one big serving plate. Top with cherry tomato halves. Set cooked seafood on top of the lettuce and tomatoes, arranging it so it looks attractive.
  2. Drizzle with avocado-buttermilk vinaigrette and garnish with fresh chopped chives.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Seafood Salad with Avocado-Buttermilk Dressing

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication. This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.





Snow Crab

12 05 2011

Snow crab legs and claw (cooked)

Every now and again something will come to my attention and I’ll become sort of obsessed with it for a while. The current object of my affection is Canadian snow crab. It started with a couple of trips to Montreal I took back in April. The snow crab season had just begun and I enjoyed a starter of cooked, chilled crab at a party I was attending. A couple of weeks later, my husband and I had an excellent meal at Le Filet, a new restaurant from the owners of the much-lauded Le Club Chasse et Pêche. (Lesley Chesterman gave Le Filet a lukewarm review in The Gazette around the same time but the kitchen was on its ‘A’ game the night we were there and our dinner was outstanding). The highlight of our meal was an asparagus and snow crab risotto. When I returned to Toronto, I decided to seek out some of the sweet crustaceans and we’ve enjoyed it a number of times since.

Snow Crab (a.k.a. Queen Crab, Spider Crab, Crabe des Neiges, Crabe Araignée) is harvested off Canada’s east coast from April to November. It is usually found frozen at most fishmongers although last weekend I was fortunate to find cooked, unfrozen claws and legs at The Beach Fish House, a great little seafood shop in my neighbourhood.

To thaw frozen snow crab, you can steam or briefly boil the legs/claws. Extracting the meat takes a bit of time but is well worth the effort. I usually set the crab on a clean folded dishtowel to soak up any liquid. You can use lobster crackers or a sharp knife to crack open the claws. The shells tend to be relatively thin at this time of year so I use seafood scissors (see photo) to cut them open. Most cookware shops sell seafood forks that you can use to extract the meat but I just use the forks from my fondue set – they work perfectly fine.

Tools for extracting crab meat: seafood scissors and fondue forks!

Snow crab is very versatile but I feel that the simplest preparations are usually best – let the sweet crab meat shine! Here are a few simple suggestions for enjoying it:

Garlic Butter

Melt some butter in a small bowl. Finely mince a clove of garlic and stir it in. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon if desired. Dip the crabmeat into the garlic butter and enjoy!

Crabby Spaghetti

In a sauté pan, heat a few tablespoons of butter or olive oil. Add a teaspoon or so of red pepper flakes, two finely minced garlic cloves, a couple of peeled and seeded diced tomatoes and cook for a minute until the garlic is tender and fragrant (you can also add a bit of minced green onion and finely diced red or yellow pepper if desired). Add a cup of crab meat to the pan and stir to combine. Cook spaghetti or other long pasta according to package directions. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss until the pasta is coated. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh chopped chives, if desired.

Spaghetti with Snow Crab, Garlic and Tomato

Crab and Avocado Stuffed Tomatoes

These make a great appetizer for parties. You can skip the avocado to make things easier. Get the recipe here: Crab and Avocado Stuffed Tomatoes.

Crab and Avocado Stuffed Tomatoes

Crab and Avocado Stuffed Tomatoes

Asparagus and Snow Crab Risotto

The perfect spring dish, this was inspired by my dinner at Le Filet in Montreal. Follow the instructions for Basic Risotto but use shellfish stock (see recipe below) instead of meat stock (although chicken stock will work in a pinch). Add about 1-1/2 cups cooked crab meat and 4 oz./113 grams of lightly steamed asparagus, cut into 1-1/2″ pieces. Stir in the asparagus and crab toward the end of cooking. Season with fresh chopped chives and two finely minced fresh basil leaves. Finish with a generous amount of butter and garnish with a crab claw (optional). Note: Italians do not usually serve seafood dishes with cheese but you can add a bit of parmesan if desired.

Snow Crab and Asparagus Risotto, garnished with a crab claw

Shellfish Stock

This makes a great base for all kinds of seafood dishes from risotto to pot pie to chowder. I usually save any shells from shrimp, lobster and crab in a bag in the freezer until I have enough to make a batch of stock. Leftover stock can be frozen.

Makes about 7-1/2 cups of stock

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups shrimp shells
  • 1 lb. / 500 grams crab and/or lobster shells (cooked and empty)
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup brandy (optional)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 8 cups water
  • Cheesecloth, for straining
  1. In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the shells and sauté until they begin to brown slightly around the edges, stirring frequently (they may stick to the bottom of the pot a bit).
  2. Add the onion, carrot and celery and sauté for another two minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste and add the brandy, if using. Add the thyme.
  4. Pour in the water. Cover and let simmer gently (don’t hard boil) for about 25 minutes.
  5. Line a strainer with multiple layers of cheesecloth and pour the stock through it into a large vessel.  If the stock isn’t completely clear, repeat the straining with more clean cheesecloth.
  6. Stock can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen.
  7. Note: The stock will seem a bit bland because it doesn’t have any salt in it – season it as you use it so you can control the sodium levels.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





Roasted Tomato Salsa

5 05 2011

Roasted Tomato Salsa with tortilla chips

May 5th is Cinco de Mayo, which is a great excuse to enjoy Mexican-inspired food and drinks. A simple roasted tomato salsa makes a delicious accompaniment to many dishes, from quesadillas to tacos. Or, just enjoy it with some tortilla chips and a margarita or Mexican beer.

Tomatoes are not in season right now but high quality greenhouse-grown cherry tomatoes are available in the produce section of most grocery stores. I usually use Canadian-grown Savoura brand cherry tomatoes but any kind will do as long as they’re ripe. A quick roast in the oven enhances their sweetness and adds a bit of delicious char. You can add additional jalapenos and hot sauce for a hotter salsa.

Serving Suggestion: Why not make some Crispy Fish Tacos and Mango Margaritas?

Roasted Tomato Salsa

Makes about 1 cup

(VEGETARIAN)

For the roasted tomatoes and onions:

  • 2 cups (400 grams/ 14 oz.) cherry tomatoes, stems removed
  • 1/2 small red onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 Tablespoon neutral oil such as canola or safflower
  • A generous sprinkling of salt
  • Parchment paper

To finish the salsa:

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped pickled jalapeno peppers (or to taste)
  • 1 large clove garlic, very finely minced
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon (or more, to taste) finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional – a lot of people don’t like it so you can omit it if desired)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Extra hot sauce, to taste (optional)

To roast the tomatoes and onion:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, add the tomatoes and onion chunks. Toss with the oil and a generous pinch of salt until they are coated.
  3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Make sure the paper goes up the sides of the rim so it catches any juices from the tomatoes.
  4. Roast the vegetables for 25 minutes or until they are softened and slightly charred. Carefully lift the parchment paper and pour the contents into a large bowl. Let cool completely.

To finish the salsa:

  1. Use a spoon to break up the tomatoes and their skins, leaving the sauce slightly chunky.
  2. Add the chopped jalapenos, garlic, lime juice, cilantro (if using) and salt to taste. Stir together until smooth. Add additional hot sauce if desired.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





Maple Rice Pudding

17 04 2011

A bottle of Canadian maple syrup

If you live in Eastern Canada or New England, maple syrup is everywhere at this time of year. Whether you take the time to visit a sugar shack or are shopping at the supermarket, there are usually a variety of syrups readily available. It’s versatile, delicious and makes a great gift if you’re visiting friends abroad.  If you live don’t live in an area that produces maple syrup, it can often be found at specialty shops or by mail order. It’s worth seeking out the real thing – imitation syrups and flavourings are a poor substitute.

This dessert is made with arborio rice, which can be found at most grocery stores. Arborio is an Italian rice that’s often used for risotto. It gives off starch as it cooks, making it perfect for creamy rice pudding.  Don’t skip the step of folding in the whipped cream at the end – it lightens the texture of the pudding, making it less dense.

Serving Tip: I like to scoop the pudding into individual dishes (martini glasses work well). For an extra boost of maple flavour, drizzle a bit of syrup over the pudding before serving.

For the recipe, check out Suite 101.com: Maple Rice Pudding.

Maple Rice Pudding, garnished with chopped walnuts

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Sour Cream and Chive Noodles

11 04 2011

Chives are easy to grow in a pot and require little maintenance

The first green item of spring has arrived: Chives!  The oniony herb is usually the first thing to appear in my herb garden each spring after a very long winter so I think it’s worth celebrating with a new recipe.

This simple pasta dish only takes minutes to put together and makes a great side dish for chicken or beef. Think of this dish as an alternative to a baked potato with sour cream and chives.

Sour Cream and Chive Noodles

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

(VEGETARIAN)

  • 8 oz. (227 grams) dry egg noodles (equals about 4 cups of dry noodles)
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock or milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup chopped chives, plus extra for garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Cook the noodles according to package directions (usually 5 to 6 minutes for al dente noodles).  Drain the water once cooked and return the noodles to the pot.
  2. Add the butter and stir until melted.  Pour in the chicken or vegetable stock (or milk) and add the sour cream and dijon.  Add the chives and stir until the noodles are thoroughly coated.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with additional chopped chives and serve immediately.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

For more great ideas using chives, check out the Chive Archives.

Sour Cream and Chive Noodles make an easy and delicious side dish

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





Herb Roasted Chicken

3 04 2011

Crispy skinned and juicy, an herb roasted chicken makes a delicious and elegant dinner

Roast chicken is a classic dinner and perfect in any season.  However, I particularly enjoy it in early spring because it’s a bit lighter than some of the heavier dishes we enjoyed through the winter yet is still hearty and comforting when the weather remains cool. It’s also versatile and can be served with any number of side dishes, from Roasted Green Beans with Shallots to Celery Root Slaw.  And of course mashed potatoes are a must to soak up the delicious gravy. For more great ideas on how to use leftover roast chicken, check out my article Three Delicious Ways to Use a Rotisserie Chicken.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

To keep the breast meat from drying out and the cooking time reasonable, select a smaller chicken weighing around 3 lbs. (1.5 kg). It will only take about 80 minutes to roast, which keeps the white meat from becoming stringy and dry. If you’re serving a crowd, consider roasting two smaller birds instead of one that’s twice the size so the roasting time will remain relatively short and the meat will stay juicy.

Boost the Flavour

Tucking herb infused butter under the skin before roasting keeps the meat moist but also adds flavour. Filling the cavity with fresh herbs, onion and garlic helps flavour the chicken and adds depth to the juices, resulting in delicious gravy. Use fresh herbs instead of dried for a brighter flavour. Fresh sage, rosemary, thyme and parsley are readily available year round at most supermarkets.

Juicy Herb Roasted Chicken

Serves 4 to 5

  • One chicken weighing about 3 lbs. (1.5 kg.)
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage
  • 1 small onion, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Herb Butter:

  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ garlic clove, very finely minced
  • Pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper

Gravy:

  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably sodium-reduced
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 Tablespoons dry white wine (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

To Make Herb Butter:

  1. In a small bowl, add all herb butter ingredients and use a fork to mix until combined. Wrap herb butter in a piece of plastic wrap and form into a ‘log’ about 3” long. Place in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. (Herb butter can be made in advance and refrigerated until use).

Preparing and Roasting the Chicken:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the cavity of the chicken is empty and pat the skin completely dry with clean paper towels or kitchen towels. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of a small roasting pan and place chicken in the pan.
  2. Stuff the cavity with sprigs of herbs, garlic cloves and quartered onion. Remove the herb butter from the fridge and slice the log into ‘coins’ about ¼” thick. Carefully lift the skin covering the breasts and slip the herb butter rounds under the skin, making sure to cover as much of the breast meat as possible. Make sure the skin covers all of the breast and butter.
  3. Rub the chicken with remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper.
  4. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. After 20 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Set a kitchen timer for 1 hour.
  5. After one hour, check on the chicken. Use a thermometer to test the internal temperature, at a thick part near the leg. It should read 170 degrees Fahrenheit when ready. If the chicken is not done, return to the oven and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Once the chicken has reached 170 degrees, remove from the roasting pan and set it on a carving board to rest.

To Make the Gravy:

  1. In a measuring cup, combine three tablespoons flour with one cup of chicken stock and whisk until smooth. Place the pan used to roast the chicken on a burner and bring the chicken juices to a simmer. Whisk in flour/stock mixture, add wine and cook until beginning to thicken, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and strain the gravy through a sieve to remove lumps. Serve over carved chicken.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication. This recipe first appeared on Suite 101.com.





Asian Spiced Sticky Maple Sauce

29 03 2011

 

 

Maple syrup is delicious and versatile

It’s maple season!  March and April are the peak times for maple syrup production in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States.  Warm days + cool nights = excellent sap flow.  It’s a time consuming and laborious process: it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup. However, the results are well worth it and there are countless delicious recipes that showcase this beautiful sweet elixir.

I enjoy maple syrup in many forms: as a topping for pancakes and french toast, cooked into desserts and occasionally in savoury dishes. Savoury dishes (ie. not desserts) are a less common way to use maple but the results are just as delicious. This Asian-inspired sauce is absolutely fantastic on chicken and pork. Note that the sauce is quite sweet so it should be brushed onto the meat in the last few minutes of cooking or it will burn to a crisp.

Most ingredients should be readily available at supermarkets but if you can’t find shao hsing rice wine (a.k.a. shaoxing or Chinese rice wine), you can substitute dry sherry or gin (or just leave it out). Chinese five spice powder can be made from common spices can’t find it already blended.

For more great maple ideas, check out the Maple Archives.

Asian Spiced Sticky Maple Sauce

Makes about 1 cup

  • 2 teaspoons neutral oil such as canola or safflower
  • 3 cloves garlic, very finely minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons finely minced ginger (about a 1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced)
  • 5 green onions, finely chopped (white and light green parts only, save the green tops for garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon (more or less, to taste) red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup sodium-reduced soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons shao hsing (shaoxing) Chinese rice wine (see above for substitutions)
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
  • To garnish: toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onion tops (optional)
  1. In a medium saucepan, add the oil and heat on medium-high. Add the garlic, ginger and green onion and reduce the heat to medium. Sauté until softened, stirring constantly to prevent burning, about two minutes.
  2. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds.
  3. Pour in the soy sauce, hoisin, maple syrup, ketchup, sesame oil, rice wine and white vinegar.  Stir until smooth.  Add the Chinese five spice powder and stir to combine.
  4. Simmer the sauce on medium-low heat until it begins to thicken, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  5. Remove the sauce from the heat and let cool a bit.  Strain the sauce to remove the ginger and onion chunks, if desired.
  6. Brush sauce onto grilled, baked or roasted meats in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Sauce can be kept covered in the fridge for a few days.  Garnish the finished dish with toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onion tops.

Suggestions: The sauce is delicious on pork, chicken, beef, shrimp and firm tofu.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Pork ribs are delicious with Asian Spiced Sticky Maple Sauce

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

 





Barolo-Braised Beef with Pappardelle

24 03 2011

Beef braised in barolo and served with pappardelle

As many of you know, I recently returned from a trip to Piedmont, Italy. The fantastic food and wine of the region has inspired me so I’ve been working on my own interpretation of recipes that reflect the foods of the region using ingredients that are accessible to North American cooks.

A popular dish in the Piedmont region is Brasato al Barolo, which is beef braised in Barolo wine. Unfortunately, Barolos can be quite expensive so you can easily substitute any inexpensive dry red wine, as long as it’s decent enough to drink.  I used a bottle of Cantina Terre del Barolo Barbera d’Alba 2008, which retails for $13.95 in Ontario. Luckily, the recipe only calls for two cups so you’ll have the rest of the bottle to enjoy with dinner!  I call for short ribs because they braise beautifully, resulting in a tender and flavourful dish.

To build flavour and add umami to the dish, I’ve used porcini powder.  Porcini are mushrooms that grow abundantly in Italy and are common in many Italian dishes. Unfortunately, fresh porcini are often difficult to find in North American stores because they are very perishable. However, many stores sell packages of dried porcini (I’ve seen them at gourmet stores, Italian specialty shops, some supermarkets and fruit and vegetable markets). It’s very easy to make porcini powder from dried mushrooms: just add a few to a mortar and use the pestle to grind them to a powder (if you don’t have a mortar-and-pestle, just crush them with a rolling pin or the flat side of a large knife). Extra powder can be kept in a sealed container and used in soups, stews or pasta sauces.

Porcini powder is easy to make with dried mushrooms and a mortar-and-pestle

A Note About Authenticity: Italians typically serve Brasato al Barolo with polenta instead of pasta (pasta is usually served as a separate first course).  However, egg noodles are delicious with the sauce, creating a rich and hearty main dish. Look for long, flat noodles made with eggs.  The beef will taste even better after a day or two so plan ahead and make extras!  Leftover shredded meat also makes a great filling for ravioli or agnolotti.

Pappardelle is delicious with wine-braised beef

Barolo-Braised Beef with Pappardelle

Makes about 6 servings

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 large meaty bone-in beef short ribs, each weighing about 10 to 12 ounces (300 to 340 grams)
  • 4 oz. (113 grams) slab bacon, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 2 cups Barolo, Barbera D’Alba or other dry red wine such as Côtes du Rhône
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 cup espresso or very strong coffee (equals about two shots of espresso)
  • 2 teaspoons porcini powder (made from about 6 dried mushrooms, see above)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. (500 grams) pappardelle or other flat egg noodles
  • Parmesan cheese to finish
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Pat the short ribs dry with clean paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper. In an enameled cast iron pot (5.5 quarts or larger) or oven proof pot with a lid, add the olive oil and heat on medium-high.
  3. Add the short ribs. Let the ribs brown, about three to four minutes per side. Turn the ribs so that all sides brown. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  4. Add the bacon to the pot and sauté until it’s beginning to crisp. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about five minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste.  Add the flour and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan. Pour in the wine, beef broth and coffee.
  6. Add the herbs and the porcini powder, stirring to combine. Return the browned short ribs to the pot.
  7. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and place the lid on the pot. Put the pot into a preheated oven (350F).  Cook for two hours.
  8. Check on the ribs after two hours. Stir to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom.  Return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
  9. Check on them again after 30 minutes – the ribs should be getting very tender and almost falling off the bone. Spoon some liquid over them (you can add another 1/2 cup of stock if the sauce is getting low).  Return to the oven for another 20 to 30 minutes or until they are fork-tender and falling off the bone.
  10. Remove the pot from the oven. Use tongs to extract the ribs from the sauce. Place them in a bowl and set aside. Strain the sauce into a large sauce pan, using a large spoon to press all of the liquid through a strainer. Heat the sauce on medium-low heat.  Spoon off as much fat from the top of the sauce as possible (you can also cool the sauce overnight – the fat will harden and can easily be removed).
  11. Place the cooked ribs on a cutting board. Remove any bones, fat and connective tissues and discard. Use two fork to shred the meat. Chop the meat into bite sized pieces and return the meat to the pot of simmering sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and heat through while preparing the pasta.
  12. Cook the pappardelle or other egg noodles according to package directions (usually about 6 minutes). Drain well. Toss the pasta with the braised meat and sauce and top with shaved parmesan cheese before serving.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.