The Friday Five – April 29th, 2011

29 04 2011

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

1.  If you sold that punch bowl you got as a wedding gift at the last neighbourhood yard sale you might regret it: apparently punch is making a comeback. (nrn.com)

2.  Millions (billions?) of people around the world watched today as Prince William and Kate Middleton got married. The royal festivities will likely go on through the night, ending with Prince Harry’s “Survivor’s Breakfast”: a meal of traditional English fry-ups and bacon sandwiches. (Yahoo)

3.  Have you ever had trouble finding a recipe you needed just as you were about to start cooking? Then you will probably enjoy the convenience of having an omelet recipe already printed on your egg.  (Slashfood)

4.  Social media shows no sign of slowing down. If you’re interested in adding to your list of people to ‘follow’, check out this list of 10 Most Followed Food Critics on Twitter. (The Daily Meal).

5.  April 30th is Tax Day in Canada. To ease the pain, why not mix up cocktail or two? The Taxman contains blood orange juice, gin, vermouth and of course, bitters. (Toronto Star).

As a final note, my thoughts are with the people in the Southern United States who have experienced devastating storms over the past few days. If you are interested in helping out, check out some of these links to various aid groups and charities.

Have a great weekend!

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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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The Friday Five – April 15th, 2011

15 04 2011

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

1.  You know royal wedding fever is heating up when someone claims to have found a jelly bean that looks like bride-to-be Kate Middleton (it really kind of does!). (Yahoo)

2.  Apparently Olive Garden’s ‘Tuscan Cooking School’, where they claim to train their chefs, is basically a sham.  They just rent some rooms at a hotel and hold a few cooking classes in the kitchen. What?!  You mean they aren’t learning how to make delicate handmade pastas from someone’s nonna, using the finest local ingredients? Shocking! (Slashfood)

3.  Montrealers take their hockey very seriously (trust me!), especially during the playoffs.  First, the French-language election debate was moved to accommodate game one of the Montreal Canadiens-Boston Bruins series. Now, Canadian-based Boston Pizza is temporarily changing the name of their 26 Montreal outposts to ‘Montreal Pizza’. Go Habs Go! (Bloomberg,Montreal Gazette)

4.  In a move that is sure to be popular on college campuses, Taco Bell is experimenting with a new menu item: a taco shell made out of nacho cheese Doritos. (Food Beast)

5.  Apparently a school in Seattle has asked people to call Easter eggs ‘spring spheres’ instead. Stephen Colbert is understandably outraged. (Toronto Star, Eater)

Have a great weekend!

(p.s. – if you’re American, you still have the weekend to pull together your taxes: they’re due Monday!)

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The Friday Five will return on April 29th, 2011.





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.





The Friday Five – April 8th, 2011

8 04 2011

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

1.  I absolutely love pho – a Vietnamese soup that is packed with noodles. I also love puns so you can imagine how delighted I was by these Nine Funniest Pho Restaurant Puns (even if they do require pronouncing the name of the soup incorrectly). (good.is)

2.  Researchers in Maine have developed a biodegradable golf ball made from lobster shells.  They are intended for use on cruise ships and help prevent lobster waste, which sounds like a great excuse to eat more lobster. (Yahoo)

3.  Speaking of lobster, The Maritime Fisherman’s Union has started a marketing campaign where you can ‘meet’ the person who caught your dinner. The pilot project tags lobsters with a code, which diners can enter on-line and get information where and how their lobster was caught. (CBC)

4.  Everyone is familiar with the legacy of Julia Child: chef, cookbook author, television pioneer and ….spy? A new book details her time in the Office of Strategic Services (a predecessor of the CIA) during WWII. (Salon)

5.  You know the bacon craze has gotten out of hand when companies are coming up with things like bacon cologne. Let’s hope the next big food trend isn’t durian… (Huffington Post)

Have a great weekend!

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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.





The Friday Five – April 1st, 2011

1 04 2011

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

1.  As a recipe developer, I am concerned about a new government proposal that all Canadian recipes will have to include metric times.  I’m not great at math so I’ll have to put on my thinking cap for this one… (Zapatopi)

2.  Totino’s Pizza Rolls have decided to scrap their user-generated marketing plan in favour of a more traditional ad campaign. Apparently the submissions for the Tell Us Your Totino’s Tale were too depressing. (The Onion)

3.  You may recall a that a few months ago, a photographer took photos of a McDonald’s happy meal for six months and discovered that it looked exactly the same at the end of the project.  In light of this, McDonald’s has scrapped their composting program because the foods wouldn’t decompose. (Eatocracy,Grist.org)

4.  The famous Michelin Guide is firing its inspectors and moving to a user-generated model.  Finally the average diner will have a say about what constitutes a three-star dining experience. (chow.com)

5.  Getting kids to eat can sometimes be a challenge.  These clever recipes can make mealtime fun again. (familyfun.go.com)

Happy APRIL FOOL’S Day everyone!   😉

Have a great weekend!

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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.

 





The Friday Five – March 25th, 2011

25 03 2011

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

1.  Salon creates a dinner menu based on food made by children’s toys such as the Big Burger Grill and Chuck E. Cheese pizza oven. A Snoopy Sno Cone makes an excellent palate cleanser between courses… (Salon)

2.  I used to love birthday parties when I was a kid in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Usually they involved homemade birthday cake, pizza and a rousing game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t quite cut it at these stylish parties: 10 Great Kids Party Ideas. (The Daily Meal).

3.  If you enjoy Tim Hortons’ Roll-Up-the-Rim contest, you’re going to love what happened at Starbuck’s: Last week a man walked into a Boston area Starbuck’s yelling, “I’m rich, I’m rich!” and threw around $100 bills before calmly walking out (the money was collected by staff and donated to Japanese relief efforts). (The Consumerist)

4.  If you’re looking for an excuse to celebrate something today, it’s International Waffle Day!  Why not whip up some Gingerbread Waffles or Crispy Waffles with Salted Caramel Coulis (or just doctor up some Eggos with a delicious topping). (The Independent, Toronto Star)

5.  Tired of the same old thing and are looking for something different when dining out? You might want to try one of America’s Weirdest Restaurants. Some of the unusual dining destinations include a restaurant in a cave and a Martian-themed resto (Bonus for South Park fans: Casa Bonita is real!) (The Daily Meal)

Have great weekend!

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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.