Saturday, July 31, 2010

What's for Dessert? Glossy Strawberry and Apricot Tart

Despite the charming looks of this dessert, cutting into it was absolute hell!
It was a delicious tart crust made with lots of butter and a jam-like filling of clear apricots (a variety I just discovered today - they have clear skins), and strawberries. The top was done up with halve pieces of the fruit and a sugar syrup.
Tangy and delicious, but slightly... a pain in the but!

What's for Dinner? A BBQ Medley

Smokey Sausages, Heirloom Tomatoes, Braised Green Cabbage with Onions, Grilled Zucchini, Salty New Potatoes, Steamed Carrots, Garlic Bread Using a Flax Loaf from the Bakery.

You All Voted....

So it's officially raining now.
I take back what I said before...
The movie has just about ended, and the beach is washed out. I am stuck inside.

So, everyone voted last week on their ideal situation of summer dining. There were 4 choices: BBQ, Farm Fresh in the Field, Bistro on the Patio and "Anything with Meat". The later a category exclusively for my brother.

And the winning dinner..... drum-roll...... A SUMMER BBQ!!

In honour of the winning category, I will cook up a BBQ tonight, rain or shine.

Look for the pictures coming soon.

*Be sure to vote on this weeks topic: "What's your favourite vegetable dish?"
You can find the poll on the top right hand side of the "tab-bar" to the right of this post. Check every week for different polls.

Hope everyone is having a safe and happy summer, and let your weather be more delightful that mine. :D

To Market.... To Market....

This week I am up at at the cottage on Lake Huron. Fishing rod in hand, bike in toe... I'm all set!

Right now I'm sitting on the porch with my laptop, watching the rain-clouds sweep in from the lake.

Here is this morning's story:

*See the new pictures to clarify.

I woke up at 7am and quickly got ready. Fed the dog. Yadda Yadda.
At 7:45 I was on my bike riding to the bakery on Main street.
I arrived at 8am. Apparently, these days, bakeries no longer open early because this one already had a line up of people waiting for the 9am opening. I was seventh in line and waited for an hour. Now, that may sound lengthy, but if you new this bakery, you would wait for their: Honey croissants, flax bread, alpine bread, butter tarts, cheese buns, strawberry tarts, meat pies, etc. etc. They make about 30 different things, no more, but they do them EXTREMELY well! And so I waited...
After a load drop-off at the cottage, I biked 4 km outside of town to pickup vegetables from the "Hi-Berry" farm. I grabbed new potatoes, strawberries and an heirloom tomato.

They will be my stand in farm while I'm away from Fertile Gorunds.

Then I went to the meat market and picked up some local sausages. The 100mile meat market is fabulous! They are able to survive in this small town because they only sell the good cuts (lamb shanks, strip-loins, pork chops, etc) by special order, while keeping the consistent sellers always stocked (sausages, chicken breasts, etc). This way, they only order exactly what they have a customer for.

I also stopped by the 100mile super market and picked up some cute nectarines. I think I'll be making some variation of a tart for dessert.

It's a good thing it's about to rain and pour outside. I hate admitting this, but I'd rather been inside boiling potatoes and making a tart, watching the "DaVinci Code" on the History Chanel then sitting on the beach.

I'll have the dinner photos up after the supper-hour.

Between going to the hi-berry, our CSA pickup and the markets I am STOCKED!

Friday, July 30, 2010

What's for Dinner? Farm Pizza with Fennel Greens, Salty, Oily Beans with Garlic and Summer Savory

Flat-bread topped with ricotta, buffalo mozzarella, Gruyère and chevre. Diced chicken, a smear of tomato sauce, sea salt, cracked pepper, fresh garlic, onions, olive oil, and fresh basil.
Beans were steamed then tossed with an infused olive oil (done in a pot on the stove) of sliced garlic summer savory (KUDOS to Taarini at the farm for that on :) and sorrel. A good sprinkling of salt made the DELECTABLE!

*All the produce and herbs were from the farm.

A Perfect Omlette!

2 free range eggs with sunny yolks. A hot pan. A pat of butter.
20 seconds. Done. Yum Yum!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What's for Dessert? Fruit Cobbler

Peaches, Pears, Strawberries, Cherries (which took FOREVER to pit via knife and fingers), and a simple crust made with self-rising flour and butter and sugar and milk+vinegar and cinnamon.

What's for Dinner? Soba Noodles in a Rich Cashew Pesto w/ Pickled Beets and Braised Endive

Soba Noodles are comprised mainly of buckwheat vs. the regular Semolina flour in 'normal' pasta. It therefore has more protein and is supposed to have a nuttier flavour. Frankly, we couldn't tell the difference but I have heard rave reviews that Soba noodles are fantastic cold. So I served this whole dish after it had been chilled in the fridge for a few hours, minus the endive.
The pesto wasn't really a pesto: cashews (and a few almonds), EVOO, a clove of strong garlic, toasted sesame oil, pepper, and soy sauce. These flavours paired nicley with the noodles. I pickled the local beets with sugar and balsamic vinegar after being cooked. Because the pesto made the noodles so rich, the tangy heap of slivered beets cut the richness.

The endives were braised in butter and white wine.

I served broccoli on the side so all GREEN wasn't lost!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What's for Dinner? Ontarian White Fish w/ Beurre Blanc, Roasted Turnips and Parsnips, Layered Zucchini and Chard

The fish was bought whole, then I gutted, de-boned and scaled the little monster. (See pictures). He was dressed with a paste of local garlic and dill, s&p, olive oil and lemon. He was cooked in a flash in the oven at a high temperature to keep moist.

I used the last of the seasons turnips and roasted them with parsnips for sweetness.

Cooked zucchini was layered with cut-out rounds of cooked swiss chard and broiled in the oven.

* Minus the olive oil and seasonings... everything was local! Whoot!

Andrew's Favourite Snack

I think the magic about cornbread is more the after-taste than anything.
When you first bite into it, it will be slightly corny and delicately sweet.
After swallowed, the lingering flavour will be more intensely corn and a little nutty.
Andrew begs for cornbread week after week. I once made it with pieces of shaved, sweet corn, but he complained that it made it too sweet. He likes it just like an authentic southerner... baked in a round, cut out like slices of cake, and with a good bite! (Due to the grit in the cornmeal.)

- 1 cup of flour
- 1 1/4 cup of stone ground yellow cornmeal
- 1 egg
- 1 quarter cup of veg. oil
- 1 cup of butter milk
- salt
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1tbs baking powder

Mix everything until JUST moistened and pour in a spring-form pan to bake for 25 min in a 400 degree oven.

*Possibly the SIMPLEST recipe in the world. I just don't get it. Why does he like cornbread so much?! He doesn't even originate from Louisiana!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Class Treats: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache and Milk-Chocolate whipped Cream

On our second last day of class in summer school I figured triple chocolate cupcakes would be suiting. Grade 11 Biology review... and CHOCOLATE!
Both are indulgent. (I don't plan on becoming a surgeon, or a botanist, but I love the subject, so I took it over the summer to have in under my belt.)
Darwin's theory of evolution...and CHOCOLATE
Meosis....and CHOCOLATE
The Mammalian heart structure... and _______!!

Lots of fun using my new chef's pastry bag.
I can't wait to make profiteroles with the spcial attachment!!

What's for Dinner? Thai Coconut Soup with Lemongrass

I have included my modifications in the following recipe.

1 quart organic chicken stock
1 stalk lemon grass, white part only, bashed-up with a knife.
3 kaffir lime leaves or lime basil and lime zest
1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 small Thai chilies, seeds removed and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 cup diced mushrooms
1/2 red bell pepper thinly sliced
1/2 red onion chhopped
2 chicken breasts
1 lime, juiced
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves or parsley

Friday, July 23, 2010

What's for Dinner? Summer Potatoes with Roasted Peppers, Crispy Basa, and Mesclun from the Garden

** Still sorting out the camera situation..

Pictures: Herbs from the garden, and the unripened vine-tomatoes.

Boiled (and well-salted) red-skinned potatoes tossed with roasted red peppers and cooked zucchini. The peppers were just broiled in the oven then steamed and peeled and diced. I tossed everything with EV olive oil, s&p, LOTS of fresh basil and parsley from the garden.

The basa was just brushed with an egg wash and coated with a mixture of our favourite flax-bread (from the cottage) and cornmeal for crunch. The crumble-topped fish were drizzled with oil and cooked in the oven until tender.

The mescaline I picked about 40 seconds before using. It did take 3 washes to clear all the soil, but it was worth it! The small leaves meant the salad was tender, almost sweet, and never bitter. If mescaline grows over 4-5 weeks, it will become inedible, so I made sure to catch it at its best. Leafy greens are wonderful to grow and eat because they look so spectacular and (for the most part) fail-proof.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

100+ Whoot! Whoot!

Hey! I just made it past 100 posts on my blog!
If you look on the right hand side of the page, you'll see a monthly archive in which you can dig-up my older creations (not all I'm proud of!) and see what was cookin' 4 months ago!
This has to count for something right?
A milestone?
A significant moment in my adolescent life perhaps?

Okay, maybe not.. but it does make me a venerated blogger...of some sorts...
MEANING... I was able to shed some light on the blogging scene to an awesome baker named Jessica who can do something I have failed many-a-times at.... FONDANT!
She is a whiz when it comes to desserts and I am so proud that she's finally going to record some of her work.
Check it out in a few weeks when she's posted something!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What's for Dinner? Bone-In Breast of Chicken, "Candy-Beets," Roast Carrots, Homemade Coleslaw

First of all.... ARGH! My foodie camera took its final breath two nights ago. Ironically, it died on the beach, taking a picture of a hollowed out wheel of grainy bread with artichoke and asiago dip inside. For this picture I used the faulty fam camera.

The Bone-In Chicken Breasts were trimmed of fat, had their skins pulled back (but not removed) and had garlic, grainy mustard, oil, s&p, and a sprig of thyme stuffed under the skin. I tossed in some round-sliced onions to flavour the fat that would come off during cooking. They were roasted on the top rack of a 425 oven for about 25-30 minutes. In my belief that it is sacrilegious to overcook chicken, I made sure to check on it now and again to prevent dry meat.

The beets were so sweet as it was, so I just tossed them in EVOO and a tad of salt and roasted them in the hot oven for about 45 minutes. They tasted like candy when I bit into them. Succulent and sweet and chewy, with a nice little handle of the attached greens that I left on when peeling.

The carrots were also from the farm and were brought home in a bunch of purple, orange and yellow. They made me happy just looking at them. Really. I woke up this morning, opened the fridge to grab my market blueberries (YUM!) and there they were... THE COLORFUL CARROTS! I am sad that I ate them now, because nothing can make me smile in the morning, other than colourful carrots. I roasted them the same way as the beets and they were delightful and sweet.

The coleslaw was one of the best I ever made! I used a good quality tbs of mayonnaise and fresh lemon juice, and a tbs of local honey. I tossed in some finely sliced green Ontario cabbage and purple basil (a stand-in for the lack of radicchio). I used a round cookie cutter to shape the mound of coleslaw which (sadly) is hard to see in this picture.

I'll work on the camera situation, and you work on some summer cooking ideas to give me :)

Some of My Favourite Ingredients!

Clockwise from the top:

Penzey's Spices Bay Leaves - This little spice shop in Grand Central Station NYC had the most beautiful bouquets of spices. Their stand was small, but mighty! They import from all over the world, and just a shake of their spices or spice blends will pack a big punch. Everything is authentic, and their flavourings amp up all my dishes. Their bay leaves are wonderful! They are the size of a deck of cards and flavour all my soups, stocks, soups and gravies.

Fresh Spinach - How versatile! It is one of those great foods that taste fabulous both fresh and cooked. I hate that they get a bad-wrap with kids for being too "slimy" or "bitter". Heck! When I was a kid...I LOVED spinach! And, it's health benefits are too numerous to count. *I am a fan of the bigger spinach vs. the baby variety, but that is just personal preference.

A Bunching Onion Studded with Two Cloves - I don't know? Makes a dish feel kind of vintage. The cloves lend a typical dish a more complex flavour. (I used it in a lentil pilaf the other day).

Crimini Mushrooms - Cook in a flash! Have a more sophisticated flavour than regular button mushrooms.

My Spice Wheel from Zanzibar - Kutos to my brother Curtis for bringing this one back from his adventures! The wheel includes, whole seed dill, whole seed cardamom, whole chilis, whole peppercorns, saffron (probably the equivalent of 40$'s worth here!!), curry powder and whole cloves.

Summer Squash - These ones from the farm cook as fast as mushrooms and have the silkiest texture! Just EVOO, s&p and a quick roast in the oven, and you have THE BEST side dish!

Pearl Onions - Maybe it's a Julia Child thing, but there's nothing cuter than a steaming pot roast with little baby onions tucked around. In a funny way, they remind me of a mother pig with 10 little suckling babies beside. :) I have a think for cute food!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What's for Dinner? Luscious Broccoli Soup with Mushroom Crescents for Dunking

The soup was very simply done to keep effort and time to a minimum. Really, while the dunkers were rising as well as in the oven, that was time to myself. ...Though of course, I enjoy spending time in the kitchen, so I'll spend that half 40 minutes or so, hovering over the stove or looking through cookbooks. Basically, I browned 1 large, sweet onion, 1 spring turnip, and a clove of garlic. (All from the farm). Towards the end of browning, I threw in some fresh thyme and seasonings (also from the farm). I poured in some chicken stock to deglaze the pan (that's right! scrape-up all those yummy golden bits off the bottom of the pan!!) and put 2 heads of chopped broccoli. I also threw in a bay leaf and some lemon zest for good measure. I let this cook for 20 minutes until everything was more than ready to be blended. Using my handy-dandy immersion blender, I creamed everything to a thick paste, then added about a cup and a half of milk. Seasoned to taste and YUM! Garnish with green and purple basil and Greek yogurt.

For the mushroom dunkers, I made a standard pizza dough (see step by step pictures) and stuffed little rounds with a combination of onions, mushrooms, basil, thyme, asiago cheese and seasonings. I baked them like a stuffed pizza (because who are we kidding? that's basically what it is...)

Monday, July 19, 2010

What's for Dinner? Thai Wraps with Spice-Rubbed Flank Steak + Dipping Sauce and Patty-Pan Squash with Roasted Garlic Vinagrette

Wraps: In soaked rice paper stack, thinly sliced lettuce, cabbage, sprouts, julienned red pepper, shallots, green onions and rare & sliced flank steak (rubbed with cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cumin, fenugreek, chipolte pepper, pepper, salt, sugar and lime basil and purple basil. Roll up the rice paper and dip in a sauce made of: soya sauce, pepper, green onions, rice wine vinegar and toasted sesame oil.
*Cinnamon pairs nicely with robust cuts of meat. It's not just for sweet dishes. (Just remember not to over-do it!
*Always slice your steak across the grain to make for easy eating :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

What's for Dinner? Stuffed Atlantic Salmon, Roasted Cauliflower, Grilled Pak-Choi, and Potato Medley

The Salmon was bough fresh and whole. I deboned/cleaned it and slathered in a healthy dose of olive oil and rubbed with sea salt, cracked pepper, and the remainders of the many different herbs that I have been accumulating and that have dried out. I also laid down a bed of shallots between the layers. Then I tied it up with butchers twine and tucked in some lemon and basil and parsley and roasted it for about 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven. (It took a while for the heat the penetrate through to the centre.
(See before and after pictures of the raw --> cooked salmon)
*Buying the salmon whole and uncleaned cost about 12$, and we have considerable leftovers after feeding the family. We could have easily spent that much on 2-3 fillets of the same fish. Spending a half an hour fussing over it with tweezers and scissors and a chef's knife can save you a great deal of $$.

I roasted the cauliflower to bring out more flavour, as well as to match the 'grilled' look of the salmon. Steamed cauliflower would have been a downer to the plate.

The pak-choi was picked up from the farm last week and was just grilled in a non-stick pan with EV olive oil and salt.

The potato medley was basically 1 local potato, chopped up in hashbrowns and cooked until crispy then spinach was added as well as cooked diced green beans. Not fancy, but a nice simple compliment to fish.

I made a salad on the side to use up our leftover vegetables from the week. Cucumbers, tomatoes, kohlrabi, s&p, best olive oil and quality balsamic. The easiest salad in the world and one of my favourite for years!!

Took about an hour and a half from start to finish... but hey, it's a Friday.